Monday, February 18, 2008

Twisted Fate

In 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House and the seldom photographed president was leading the country from a wheelchair. The March of Dimes he helped create was an effort that began with a radio appeal, asking everyone in the nation to contribute a dime to fight polio. In only a few days his plea had received $230,000. Roosevelt served four terms as president, led the country through some of its greatest crises and doing so while disabled.

Lou Gehrig had taken himself out of the lineup, putting the Yankees first and his failing limbs on the bench. Just before Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, Dr. Habein's of the Mayo Clinic thought that the New York fans needed a "Press Release" to explain the sluggers diagnoses. In an attempt to ease the pain of their loss, the release told Yankee fans that the Iron Horse had Infantile Paralysis better known as Polio. Lou and Eleanor knew the truth about ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) but went along with the story that gave the Yankee legend this hopeless fifty-fifty chance. When the Mayo Clinic decided to hide the real horrors of ALS, it may have been the set-back we deal with yet today. As Lou Gehrig's body failed and became more and more paralyzed he would keep the lie alive by acting out this fabrication of hope.

All those dimes were too late for Lou Gehrig and after his death the tragedy of ALS was explained to the public, at least to those who were still listening. The ALS connection was made and because of his death, Lou Gehrig became a legend for a whole different reason.

Polio was eradicated with a vaccine because a country rallied and gave dimes to aid in the research. FDR is still the face on a Dime while Lou Gehrig's disease sadly remains the same.


Jayne said...

My cousin was diagnosed with ALS about three years ago. Prior to her getting it, I didn't know about the ravages of the disease. I had heard... but did not comprehend... until it was in front of me to see. God Bless each of you who suffer from this and who are working for more funding/research. Keep getting the word out, keep educating.


ALS Grumpy said...


If the world is like I was, they know very little about ALS. I didn't until my diagnosis and I continue to be amazed at how ignorant many in the health care professions are. It isn't their fault, it is ours. We owe to them and to ourselves to advocate for more education for the health care workers.

Jayne said...

The sad thing is I worked in the health care profession for the last 10 years I was able to work. I wasn't in direct patient care. I was a PR rep. So I have a big mouth, and I'm trying to help spread the word, not only about ALS, but also about MS, which I have. If even a few learn more about it, and they tell others, a lot has been accomplished. Keep the faith.