I believe in the power of positive thinking. I always have and I always will. It’s more than a mindset and less than a worldview (if that makes sense). I don’t swim in a sea of blind optimism nor do I think that the sky is falling. I suppose it boils down to this: when you think bad things are going to happen to you, they probably will.
I believe that things happen for a reason. I like to look at my life as a (somewhat) linear series of events where one thing leads to the next thing. Why else would I have begun privately tutoring students while working for Continental Glass and then quit that job in order to attend the College of Notre Dame to get my teaching credential and then to get a phone call at the school from one Diane Campbell, a teacher at La Entrada, pleading with the program director to send a credential candidate to her asap to take ten students from an overcrowded math class off of her hands only to become a staff member there the next year and to then meet Fehmeen by the copy machine in the staff lounge which led to our marriage and of course, our baby, The Bug. Yeah, you could say that I believe that things happen for a reason and sure, I’ve got ALS now, but at this particular point in time, the reason why hasn’t been completely revealed (although I have a fairly strong inkling why).
I believe in the people that have rallied around me. From Fehmeen, who has demonstrated superhuman strength and unconditional love for me throughout this nightmare called motor neuron disease to my parents, John and Judy, who essentially gave up their post-retirement lives to help take care of me and help us raise Emma to the ever-resilient Khan family who are there for us for whatever we need, day or night to our families, friends, co-workers, doctors, care providers, former students, current students, their parents, and even strangers. Every single one of you have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be there for me. I don’t say it nearly enough, but thank you.
I believe in the power of Emma. I knew she was special even before she was born when she delayed her own birth by ten days past her due date so that she and I could share the same birthday of April first. I believe that on some deep, subconscious level she knows, and has always known, that her Daddy has something going on healthwise and she behaves accordingly. She responds to my questions in our unique shared language, she sits patiently on my lap whenever we hang out together, and she always has to be touching my hand, arm, or leg whenever she is sitting or laying near me. The crazy thing is, and I’ve noticed this since she started doing more than eating, sleeping, peeing and pooping, that whatever skills and abilities (talking, grabbing, lifting, crawling, and rolling over) I slowly start to lose, she slowly starts to gain them. I know it may sound a bit odd, but think about it; she is developing the muscles to do these things at the same as mine begin to die off. It’s like a weird transfer of superpowers or something (so says this comic reading geek). Anyhow, regardless of all of that, the feeling I get inside when I look at her or even think about her, I forget completely about what’s wrong with me and I submerge myself into the miracle that is my daughter, Emma.
I believe that when I replaced my five metal fillings with non-toxic amalgam ones in June and when I had two dead, infected, metal post-filled root canaled bottom molars yanked out in July that I pro-actively removed a major source of toxic poison from my body and nervous system. (The way I look at it is like this: What area of my body is most affected by ALS? My tongue (speech and swallowing). And where was there a major source of poison near those areas of affect? The teeth in my mouth. Coincidence? I think not). Once I took care of eliminating some obvious areas of toxicity, the rate of my ALS progression has appreciably slowed down in comparison to the rate earlier on with the metal in my mouth.
I believe that God gives you exactly what you can handle.
I believe in my ability to outlive the average time that a typical person survives with ALS. The first neurologist to diagnose me characterized the amount of time someone lives with ALS is more along the lines of years and not decades. I decided right then and there that I was going to be an exception to that somewhat discouraging rule of thumb.
I believe that I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I know that these words have been uttered before by other men and women who have faced a similar fight during their lives. While I cannot speak for them and their reasons for saying it, I know in my case that I didn’t really start to appreciate the life I was living until I was told by various doctors that I was dying. I began to see what the truly important things in my life were. Although my appreciation of all the gifts in my life is still a work in progress, and I am sure that I will continue to make plenty of mistakes, rest assured, I am an apt pupil who still has a lifetime worth of lessons to learn.