Saturday, February 13, 2010

Who Am I? An Existential Question

It was the journalism degree, of all things, that turned out to be the sturdy dinghy in a mighty storm. When my child was diagnosed with a neurological illness, I went into investigative reporter mode – for years. The research kept at bay the nauseating sense of helplessness. The pointed questions to doctors and school staff kept them honest. And the writing – succinct, on-message sound bites to summarize my objectives for each check-up – improved my child’s care. Today, I firmly believe it played a strong role in bringing his health and functioning to optimal levels.

Strangely enough, the illness in turn softened my crusty reporter’s heart. That adage about “the really important things in life” became solace as any career aspirations I had faded away. A unique capacity for great patience and compassion would have remained untapped had this illness not joined our lives. And I slowly, painfully became adept at the art of optimism, a virtue heartily scorned in the journalism world. There are good doctors, there is the kindness of strangers, there are strong and compassionate friends without whom we would have never weathered the storm.

Next up, meet my best friend who was my rock and salvation as my child and I journeyed as lay people through the medical maze.

Elaine lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, three children, and her Phillies World Series commemorative earrings.

(Artwork courtesy of

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