|09-19-2002, 08:33 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: North Brunswick, NJ, USA
AOL Talks with Christopher and Dan Reeve
AOL: Christopher, after your accident, your new reality was as a "C-2 vent-dependent quadriplegic." In your book, you describe your reaction: "I was angry, and I probably still carry much of that anger today." How do you deal with that anger?
Christopher Reeve: I deal with anger by working very hard to keep myself in the best physical condition and by focusing on my family and friends, all of whom support me with their love and bring me great joy. I also spend a great deal of time as Chairman of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and a member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research attempting to pass legislation in Congress that will permit federal funding for cutting edge research and the improvement of the quality of life for millions of Americans and others around the world who are living with disease and disability.
AOL: Dana, how do you deal with your anger?
Dana Reeve: We are a family that is not afraid of emotions --- whether they are positive or negative. Emotions are part of the human experience, an essential part of our expressiveness. Chris's anger is not deeply buried and pent up; therefore it can be expressed and dealt with in a non-threatening way. I deal with his anger and my own by 1) identifying and expressing it, 2) trying to identify ways to alleviate the anger --- usually by focusing on problems that can be fixed and learning to accept situations that may not have an immediate solution and 3) keeping my sense of humor and encouraging Chris to do the same.
AOL: Christopher, you write about slipping into the "numb zone," an acceptance of your condition that, if not stopped, can lead you back to square one. How do you fight your way out of that zone?
Christopher Reeve: Much like coping with anger, getting out of the "numb zone" requires taking action. We are all capable of doing that. A soon as you realize you're slipping into that state of mind, you need to do something that makes you think more about others than yourself. The best remedy for me is to remind myself that I am a husband and father, not just a spinal cord patient.
AOL: Christopher, the discovery that you can move --- I read that chapter, shook my head and thought, "No words for that." But of course, you have many. What's the moral for people with disabilities?
Christopher Reeve: The moral is not to accept any limitations, either set by ourselves or imposed by others. I think that applies to everyone, whether disabled, ill or in perfect health.
AOL: Dana, what was your reaction to the discovery that Christopher can move?
Dana Reeve: I was shocked and elated for him. Chris works very hard, sets very high standards for himself, and sets goals that he insists on meeting --- or at least trying his best to meet. He is amazing that way. He continues to defy all the expectations doctors and scientists have for him. He always reaches higher. As far as "daring to hope..." that's a tricky one. I tend to live more "day by day." I live with hope without expectation. That way, I'm happy when things go well and not devastated when they don't. I am here to enjoy the journey, get the most out of it that I can, and help others along the way.
AOL: Christopher, the start of movement must make you want more, more, more. Do you feel more impatient with your therapy and medical research now than you did a few years ago?
Christopher Reeve: I am not impatient with physical therapy because new techniques and equipment are becoming available on a regular basis (one of the main issues, however, is getting insurance companies to pick up the cost.) On the other hand, I must admit I am discouraged by the lack of progress in extremely promising areas of research, particularly human embryonic stem cells and somatic cell nuclear transfer, a.k.a. therapeutic cloning. I believe that religion should not play a role as governments around the world debate the ethics of any kind of medical research. It is likely that a cure for spinal cord injury as well as a wide variety of other diseases and conditions will be the result of a combination of rehabilitative and regenerative therapies. That is why all reasonable approaches need to be funded and explored.
AOL: Dana, your thoughts on research that could help Christopher and others?
Dana Reeve: I am impatient with the politics surrounding the most promising research. It seems to me that lack of understanding and education is responsible for a lot of the slow-downs in terms of attention and funding
being paid to further research in the areas of embryonic stem cells and somatic cell nucleus transfer (a.k.a: therapeutic cloning). If more people
realized that UNFERTILIZED eggs are used in these procedures I think there would be a ground swell of support that the government could not deny and things would move along more swiftly.
AOL: President Bush has taken a position on research using embryos that slows work that could lead to a cure for you. Have you tried to meet with the President?If he had just five minutes to spend with you, what would you tell him?
Christopher Reeve: I would like to make sure the President knows that the U.S. is in danger of losing its preeminence in science and medicine possibly due to pressure from social and religious conservatives who do not represent the majority in this country. I would like to convince him that the best way to stop reproductive cloning, which is abhorrent to all of us, is to support legislation that would permit the government to fund therapeutic cloning while imposing severe criminal punishment on anyone who attempts reproductive cloning. It appears that therapeutic cloning will not be defeated in the Senate so the President should change his mind and support it. The worst-case scenario would be a stalemate in which no legislation would pass and some misguided individuals would attempt to clone a human being without fear of punishment.
AOL: Christopher, is there one simple thing you'd like AOL members --- and others--- to do to help you and your cause?
Christopher Reeve: Please understand that therapeutic cloning involves the use of an unfertilized egg that will never leave the laboratory, never be implanted in a womb and never become a human being. And yet when combined with the DNA of a patient, it might be the best hope for relieving the suffering of millions of people around the world. Let your representatives in Washington know that you support all safe and reasonable scientific research.
~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~