Monday, July 2, 2012

Would You Quit?

This is not a story about the Affordable Care Act, or health insurance, or politics, or the Supreme Court, or the presidential election. Regular readers know that I keep this space as apolitical as humanly possible because that sort of thing just isn't in my wheelhouse.

This is a story about my good friend Amy, who -- thanks to a terrifying health scare -- has become a spokesperson for the Affordable Care Act. I want to tell my friend Amy's story, but nobody tells it as well as Amy does. Thus, the gentleman yields the floor:

So there's your backstory. On to the question at hand.

Better Half and I went to dinner with Amy and her husband Ross not long ago, and the pressing question on Amy's mind for me that night was, what if your doctors said you should no longer do what you love to do? I bounced it around, a brain-twisting hypothetical for me -- but it's a reality for my friend. After all, once you've done time in a medically-induced coma, all systems going dark thanks to the fungal infection you picked up falling out of your kayak into a lake, the medical staff that (somehow, miraculously) brought you back amongst the world of the living isn't keen on seeing you paddle out again. They'd rather you handle their handiwork with extreme caution.

I tried, really tried, to put good brain cells against that question, but I'm not sure you can get there unless you've been there. Sure, I broke my femur once, the major connecting rod to one of the pistons in my two-cylinder engine. And while there were moments in my recovery when I wondered if I really could ride again, my supremely arrogant surgeon (I kid because I love, Dr. T) seemed never to doubt that I'd turn pedals, and soon. And he was right. I never had to face that stark wall of "AGAINST MEDICAL ADVICE". I got my aftermarket hardware, sat out part of one biking season, and popped right back up, a well-insured Weeble with only a bitchin' scar and some 'splainin' to do at airport security to show for it.

But Amy really has to decide. To do the thing she loves, literally risking death to go out on the water, or to put it aside and spend the rest of her life on the shore. It's easy to have the flip answer, the swaggering, "Hell no! I wouldn't quit!" Think that through again, though. Think about someone you care about, who cares about you. You don't have to live with the consequences, but that person does. Has to go through the rest of their life wondering why they didn't try harder to stop you.

I could turn this one over in my head for years and not have an answer. I guess I'll just be happy with the fact that I still have my good friend Amy around to ask the question.


essjay said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this video of Amy sharing her story - what an amazingly hard journey and I am so thankful to see that she is doing so well.

I think you are right - until you are in the situation I don't think any of us can say what we would actually decide.

Anonymous said...

well... when I had a significant bit of nerve damage from neck problems, it gradually became clear that I'd have to reduce or eliminate the time I spent on upright bikes. As an owner of 7 upright bikes, all of which were either custom frames or very cool vintage bikes, it wasn't a pleasant prospect. But, as of this year, I've only put 20 miles on my vintage bikes, with the rest on my modern, indexed shifting, clipless pedal equipped recumbents. It's great to still get out and ride, but it's not the same. Such is life. There are a lot of fun things you can do in life, so there's no sense obsessively sticking with the stuff that will hurt you. Better to find something else that can bring you joy. It's not going to be easy, but nothing is.

Steve in Peoria

Amy said...

Jason, thank you for honoring me so. Here's what I have decided: As soon as I can get one of the nifty trachs with a watertight cap, I'm going to dust off my kayak and go out. I may never be able to get one, but I have to try. An unlived life is not worth living. Yes, this may be the idiot's response. But I swear my 'yak whimpers when I pass it by in the garage. :)