I believe in the power of a smile. When Ann and I married, 34 years ago, she was a bright, young, energetic woman with a great sense of humor and a wonderful smile. Sometimes, I’d kid her that her smile was so big that you could see her gums. But I really loved her smile; it made me happy to see her so happy. About 4 years after our second child was born, Ann developed a mysterious illness. At first, we had no idea what it was, all we knew was that she was having terrible bouts with depression and she would slur her speech, like she was drunk, and she was tired all the time. Over the next few years, we consulted with numerous doctors and Ann took endless tests. Eventually, we discovered she suffered from a seizure disorder, left front temporal lobe seizures. She was having hundreds of seizures, electrical storms, in an area of the brain that controls emotions. After more tests and a consultation at the National Institute of Health, the doctors concluded that the only viable treatment alternative was medication. We searched for 20 years for the right combination that would control the seizures yet minimize the inevitable adverse side effects. Finally, with the help of some wonderfully dedicated doctors and new medications, Ann’s life is beginning to return to normal. Through it all, Ann never lost her smile. There were times when she was in the hospital, lost in a deep depression and fighting hallucinations, when she didn’t smile, and would hardly speak. There were times when she would begin moaning and slip to the ground and her eyes would roll back in her head, when she wasn’t smiling. But she would always recover. Sometimes it would take a few days, sometimes a week, sometimes a month, but she would always emerge from the fog. Her inner strength, the love of her family and friends and her love for them, would always pull her through. And when she did recover, her smile would return and I knew she would be alright. Her smile puts life in perspective for me and it makes me happy.
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