Friday, April 9, 2010

Teddy (Life is Beautiful)

This story is about a devastating event, but the moral of the story itself, I would venture to say, is an uplifting one. Hearing this story was an especially moving experience for me. Because Teddy cannot control his hand very well, he told me the story verbally and asked me to write it down on paper for him; because my scribbles were rough and he cannot see very well, he asked me to read the story out loud to the class. While I was reading, I would stop between paragraphs to make sure he was ok (emotionally) before I moved on. Every time I looked, he was nodding, slowly, reflectively, yet confidently. This event is the kind that tests a person’s character. I knew Teddy is a bright, friendly guy before hearing this, but this story has shown me the true measure of his smile.

Thomas Teddy Coyle
Life is Beautiful

In 1993, the singer Charo wrote me a letter and asked me to go to her 50th birthday party at her nightclub in Hawaii. I agreed and when I went to Hawaii I went on a culture tour. There were two buses of us and we went to the mountainside and deep into the woods. After getting off of the bus we started roaming around but we were told to stay on the road. They weren’t any signs telling us anything was dangerous. I saw these beautiful reda, yellow, orange and green plants, which were humongous.

The colors were almost metallic and they drew your attention. I should have known the metallic colors were a warning that these plants were dangerous. I actually stepped on the roots because I was too bust looking up. The roots stung my foot. I didn’t realize at the time that it was shooting toxins into me. The tour guides asked me if I was okay and I said I was fine. There was a little cut on my ankle but I had sandals on so I didn’t think anything of it.

Two years later I felt something. I was up and down the stairs and my legs started to buckle. I was 47 so I just thought I was getting old. But at the same time, my doctor told me I was developing diabetes, which affects your legs and feet. So I just thought that’s what it was. Wrong.

Soon it was getting into my neck, into my sides and even my eyelids. As years went by it was getting worse. The doctors couldn’t figure out what it was. They gave me x-rays and MRI’s and they saw that my insides were inflamed. For 5-6 years I walked with a cane and then ended up in a chair.

It took them 13 years to figure out what it was. My neurologist was reading magazines and saw symptoms that sounded like mine. He called me into his office and showed me photos of the plants and asked me I had seen them. I said “Oh yes!”

The doctor said “The good news is it won’t kill you, the bad news is you’re gonna wish it did. The pain that comes with this is excruciating.” If the tour guides knew what it was and took me to the hospital, I could have gotten detoxed that day.

Now I have a choice. I can sit in this chair and cry or I can sit in this chair and live my life and make everyone else happy. Be on the positive side.