Michael J. Fox: A Model Patient

Always Looking Up Book by Michael J. FoxI recently watched an ABC special titled, Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. I watched because I was intrigued after I read an article about how Fox (diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 18 years ago) has become a major patient advocate for the disease, all while remaining an optimist about what the future holds for him. In this special he offers his philosophy on dealing with the disease and also interviews a number of people about the concept of optimism.

As a patient, I’m always very interested in learning how others cope with a chronic problem. As a person, I’m intrigued by what makes people tick.

There were a lot of quotes from the one-our episode that I found thought-provoking and inspiring, so I decided to highlight them in a handy little blog post so that we could all be inspired.

The only unavailable choice was whether or not to have Parkinson’s, everything else was up to me. I could concentrate on the loss or I could just get on with my life and see if those holes starting filling in themselves.

For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given, sometimes just a marker that points me in a different direction that I might not have otherwise traveled.

What i find is that it’s important that if I am going for that goal or if I am going for that thing, is that every moment I am short of that, isn’t a bad moment because I’m not there yet. It’s okay to just be striving.

Do the next right thing and hopefully something will happen.

I think that’s where the hope comes from. If I could do everything then I have no reason for hope. And there’s something in the hope that’s even more powerful than the realization of whatever the hope is for.

You are most optimistic when you feel you are not alone.

Optimism doesn’t mean being in denial. It’s not Pollyannish. It allows for the fact that things are tough. There can be tough optimism: An acceptance of obstacles, with a willingness to fight through them.”

This quote from musician Ben Harper (who was interviewed in the episode), also resonated with me:

Music is, to me, the soundtrack to optimism. Silent optimism is optimism at eight, when it could be at ten.

The quote that I found most interesting was: “Do the next right thing and hopefully something will happen.” I’m often so worried about “doing things right” that sometimes I lose sight of whose “right” I’m trying to live up to. Usually, it’s some sort of “rule” that I’ve created in my head that only makes life harder for me. The “next right thing” sounds much more achievable and spiritual. It sounds like something I just need to be open to, not something I have to agonize over for an entire day, then make a decision about, then worry about whether or not I made the right decision.

Tomorrow I plan on getting up and walking out that front door with the confidence that my day will be full of “next right things.”

Watch the entire special here.

Learn more about the show here.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this TV special was also created to help promote his new book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.

What are your tips for remaining optimistic in the face of chronic disease?

Bedtime Snack

It’s 10:33 pm on Tuesday night and I’m about to have my bestime snack: Advil, Plaquenil, Sulfasalazine, Celexa and a peanut butter cookie. DEE-licious.

Drugs on my night stand.


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Update 6/4/09: People have asked and the chef has hinted at wanting credit… Chocolate chip, peanut butter cookie was baked by my boyfriend.

Everything Is Amazing, Yet Nobody’s Happy

Comedian Louis CK does an excellent job of helping us all gain some perspective. There are a lot of things in each of our lives that make life difficult, but if we step back and look at the world we live in, what we have available to us is pretty darn amazing.

Appreciate all the good things in your life today: medication, friends, family, technology, Clive Owen movies, rheumatologists … I could go on and on. Have a splendid day!

(If the flash player doesn’t work for you, click here to view the video.)

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Arthritis Walk At Six Flags Magic Mountain

Arthritis Walk At Six Flags Magic Mountain

The Arthritis Walk at Six Flags Magic Mountain was a smashing success today! There was a HUGE turnout and the theme park was the perfect location.

Having the walk at an amusement park really made everything more festive. We did a short walk around the park, while a custom playlist of “walking” songs played: Walkin’ on Sunshine, Walk Like an Egyptian, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), and more. I love that it was a short walk. It’s not about the 3 mile (or 1 mile) walk, it’s about the people and the money and awareness raised. The short walk gave us more time for bonding with other arthritis warriors and supporters.

My two supporters were my beau PJ and my good friend Holly. PJ was the tattoo artist at the Arthritis Foundation booth and hooked kids and adults up with a “Kids Get Arthritis, Too” tats. Holly has been to nearly every Arthritis Walk since I starting going to the walks back in 2001. The walk is an early call for a Sunday (9am), so yay to PJ and Holly for coming out!

Those that raised $150 dollars or more were given a free ticket to get into the park for the rest of the day. Sweet! A group of six of us (thanks for the coaxing, Jocelyn!) went into the park after devouring burgers and hot dogs from the walk BBQ. We rode a few rides, got a little sunburned, and then called it a day.

It was great seeing people in the park with their Arthritis Walk shirts and Hero hats on as we wandered around the park.

Special thanks goes out to my good friend Mike for coming with me to the New York Arthritis Walk in Battery Park last weekend while I was in town visiting. NYC started their walk at 10am, which was kinda nice, I gotta say. Sometimes those joints don’t get moving until after 9am. 🙂

I’m looking forward to the Irvine Walk in two weeks that I’ll be doing with my brother and mom.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up for an Arthritis Walk near you and raise money for a cure and awareness for this often invisible disease.