From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog: An embodiment of dignity

Friday, March 18, 2005

An embodiment of dignity

Ezra Klein in a scattershooting post had a link to this article in the LA Times (free subscription required I think but worth it).

Dr. Richard Olney knows nearly all there is to know about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease.

He knows that over a couple of years, it destroys nerves that control muscles, gradually entombing the mind alive in a useless body until, unable to move, speak, swallow or breathe, the patient perishes.

The founder of the ALS clinic at UC San Francisco and a national figure in the protracted war of research against the mysterious ailment, Olney knows it strikes a victim without warning in the bloom of adulthood.

As a physician noted for the exceptional compassion he shows his patients, Olney also knows the sorrow and dread they and their families must bear.

All this knowledge, Olney says, is a comfort now that ALS is ushering him toward his own death, probably in a matter of months.
The man is a top expert on the disease, which gave him an edge in how to prepare for it to be sure. But even given that, how Olney has met this head on is amazing. My heart goes out to his family. I hope they all continue to fight the good fight.