How Love Helps to Overcome the Challenges of Kennedy's Disease
Unconditional love is defined as love without any limitations. It’s the kind of love that will help people who suffer from disabilities, diseases or disorders overcome the boundaries of their condition and live as normal and as full a life as possible.
A prime example of this is the story of Charlie and Georgeanna Capito. In 1985 a mere six months after being married, Charlie was diagnosed with a life-altering degenerative disorder called Kennedy’s disease (KD). This genetic progressive neuromuscular disease that falls into the muscular dystrophy family causes muscle weakness throughout the body. The disease tends to focus itself on the arms, legs, face, and throat and will eventually cause muscle atrophy. This is when the muscles completely waste away.
After his initial diagnosis of KD, the Capoti’s did was most people do in the face of life-changing news. They allowed themselves to feel angry and pitiful and sad - and any other emotion that bubbles up to the surface. Eventually, they found a support group for patients dealing with the various kinds of muscular dystrophy out there.
What they discovered was a group of people who were active and happy despite their diseases and disorders and various disabilities. This was the turning point for both Charlie and Georgeanna. Rather than let the burden of living with a degenerative disease take over who they were, they decided to live a happy life to the best of their ability. It was this shift in attitude and their devotion to each other and their marriage that allowed Charlie to travel, to raise a family, to be employed and to find his faith.
Since 1964, Kennedy’s disease has been known and while studies and research are on-going, at this time, there are still no cure or treatment options for patients. It typically affects adult males between the ages of 30 and 50 and while, it does cause the muscles in the body to eventually stop working, most of those adults who do develop the disorder have a relatively normal life expectancy. At the moment, it is estimated that as many as 150,000 people worldwide suffer from KD. Although, that number may be due the high number of misdiagnosis that also occurs. Often times, the diseases are mistakenly diagnosed as the fatal Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS.
Living with purpose and gratitude
For the Capoti’s finding that silver lining in the dark clouds plays a big part in finding and keeping joy in their lives. For example, rather than look at being in a wheelchair as being a bad thing, Charlie is grateful that his set of wheels allows him to get around as much as he does, otherwise, he would be confined to a bed.
More and more studies are emerging that showcase how attitude, especially in the face of disease, can positively impact how a person manages disabilities, diseases or disorders. There are times that being grateful is not an easy task, in fact, there will be times in everyone’s life, whether battling a life-changing disease or not, being grateful for anything seems downright impossible. However, taking a bit of time each day to find even just one little thing to be grateful for plays a big role in changing a persons’ perspective on life.