Why Ali’s Death Affected Me So Much

I’m not a sports fan. In fact, neither my husband or I watch sports. I knew of Muhammad Ali’s boxing legacy & that there were documentaries & movies about him. He left behind a legendary career to those who followed boxing. But, that isn’t what I was focused on about him.

He suffered from Parkinson’s. With the drastic differences between his life & mine, this is one issue we had in common. Perhaps, prior to my diagnosis, I may have heard of his health woes. But, it wasn’t until I saw a piece on the news about his wife that I realized he had the same disease. Standing by his side as a tireless caregiver, his wife told of the highs & lows of his struggle.

When someone has a chronic or terminal illness, it’s human nature to absorb information on social media & television that mentions whatever you have. Obviously, Michael J. Fox has become the poster boy for Parkinson’s. Often, we see him on t.v. & think, ‘Oh, he doesn’t look so bad.’ He recently had another television show & continues to be very active. But, Ali was different. His struggle wasn’t as ‘camera-friendly’. That scares me.

My diagnosis isn’t that old. Some days, I can almost forget I have it at all. Then, when the house is quiet, I will notice a tremor & be reminded all over again. Since hearing of Ali’s hospitalization, I’ve become ultra-sensitive to every little twitch. I’ve even gotten ‘lost in my own head’ while doing mundane tasks, blocking out the world around me to ponder the endless what ifs of Parkinson’s.

Summer is here & I’ve become even more aware of the things I cannot do. My family wants to camp & experience nature. Quite frankly, I’m going to miss out on most of it. I’ve even caught myself being extra-sensitive to comments, even ones meant to be kind. Bottom line: I’ve been in a huge pity party. Here we had Muhammad Ali- called the Greatest. A man full of self-confidence, dare I say arrogance, a super hero, athlete. The epitome of strength. He was reduced to mortal status by a disease no one can cure or even contain.

Parkinson’s is merciless. It doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t care. But, I do care & I do not want to live in the land of pity. I want to live a full life. It isn’t fair. However, nothing in this life is fair. Name any disease. Sufferers can ‘why me’ & ‘what if’ any one of them. When someone we know, either in person or via their persona, dies from the disease or a complication from it, it’s going to affect us.

We can either accept this fact, celebrate the person’s life, and go on or we can give up. I’m choosing to keep going. I won’t stop reading about new nutritional discoveries or the latest research. I appreciate that Ali put an additional face on Parkinson’s perhaps inspiring others to assist in efforts to stop it. I would thank him for his courage. But, in my non-famous, little spot on this Earth, all I can do is what I can do.

I will participate in fundraising, sharing information, and accepting my own limitations. But, I will not accept that my life is over. I know God can heal me in an instant. Jesus paid for my healing & I am waiting for the manifestation. Until then, I will try to live as He wants me to & use it for good.

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