When my child was diagnosed with a neurological illness, my training as a journalist became my most valuable resource. 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.
Elaine lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, three children, and her Phillies World Series commemorative earrings.