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NOT DINING WITH THE ENERGIZER BUNNY

18 June 2002

I may have mentioned that Dr. G....I'd say suffers from, but I suspect he enjoys it...let's say "is affected by" ADHD. His brain operates in several different dimensions at once. He knows everything about everything, and if he doesn't, just give him five minutes and he'll have mastered it. In addition to being a physician who belongs to most of the professional committees and organizations around, a gardener who seems to have an inexhaustible supply of roses, a sports buff who does an hour of vigorous exercise on his lunch hour, should he take one, and plays team tennis at night, a father with kids ranging in age from 30 to 6, an author with a book in progress, and probably a bazillion other things I have yet to discover, he also built a house with his own hands on a year sabbatical and, I learned today, was the first bearded physician in the operating rooms of Stanford Hospital. Among other things.

I don't know if the man ever sleeps. And it's been a real education trying to keep all those balls he's juggling in the air when he passes them over to me. I think I've come to a kind of simpatico with him and know what I need to worry about and what I can let go for a bit.

I've often wondered what it must be like to be married to someone who operates on full tilt all the time.

Today, I discovered that his wife, Birdie, is just as hyperactive, only with a bit more emphasis on the active.

This is a lovely woman, with a big caring heart who has taken it upon herself to attempt to bring national attention to the plight of the Bennett children, about whom I wrote  a couple of days ago. Briefly, the three children are dying of a somewhat rare condition known as Sanfillipo syndrome. Cost of treatment for the two who still have hope of improving (it's too late for the 6 yr old) will run over $1 million, which the family obviously does not have. And so Birdie and some of her friends have organized a committee to attempt to raise funds for the children, by attracting the attention of the national media in the hope of finding an "angel" out there.

Last week she asked if I would help with publicity, and I agreed.

I wasn't quite prepared for the whirling dervish that burst into the office this afternoon, papers flying everywhere, the copy machine set to to cranking out press releases, lists, phone numbers.  Ideas all seemed to be continuously flying out of her head like electrical current.

The plan was that we were going to have a pre-meeting at the office and then meet her committee at a restaurant downtown. I didn't go home in between the end of work and the beginning of the pre-meeting because they kind of ran together. Dr. G has the flu and is moving slowly, for a change, and moaning a lot, so the day kind of ran a little long. He was slinking out the door as she was bouncing in. The work day ended and the committee pre-meeting began.

She was probably on such a high because she'd talked with a director at Good Morning, America who is very much interested in doing the story and she was all jazzed about that. Rightfully so.

We went over all the materials with a fine tooth comb, honing the press release and the fact sheet, dividing up the list (who will call Montel? Who will call Oprah? Who will call Katie?) and then it was time to race off to meet the rest of the committee.

The meeting place was a lovely European restaurant, with a lovely outdoor courtyard, next door to the typing service where I began my return to work umpty-ump years ago. So many memories of all the jocks whose term papers we helped to write, the pre-med students we helped get into medical school, all the papers about the !Kung and Trobriand tribes, and the personal triumphs and tragedies that we all went through in that little brick building. Nice memories.

Birdie was seated at the table when I arrived. As it turned out, only one other committee member was there, a delightful woman who quit being a lobbyist when her child was born, but who had tons of ideas on the government side of this issue (since their insurance company has denied their plea for medical coverage for the procedure).

Like the Energizer Bunny, Birdie was still going and going and going and I marveled at what it must be like in a house with two of them at such a fevered pitch all the time!

When the waiter handed us our menus, the other women indicated that they'd already eaten (it was 7:30, after all) and just wanted wine. I ordered sparkling water and sat there till 9 p.m. wondering if I was ever going to get anything to eat.

The ideas were flying fast and furious, with Birdie and her friend talking a mile a minute and I was monitoring my inner self and realizing that while I cared what happened to these kids, I just couldn't get myself worked up into the state necessary to do an effective job. Maybe I've just come to an inner peace--or inner stalemate--about causes like this, finally. I remember when I was Birdie, flying here and there doing 1,000 things at once. To some it may seem that I'm still doing that, but I'm really not. There's a whole new person inside here. Maybe I've changed my energizer batteries for a cheaper brand. Or maybe after nearly 60 years, all batteries start to wear out.

Oh, I'll do my assigned tasks (I agreed to call Katie and Barbara and Oprah) and I'll be happy when Diane Sawyer airs her piece on the kids and I really hope they are able to find the proper funding, but I was not sorry when the waiter brought our check and I could beat a hasty retreat home to get a bit of yogurt for dinner.

Sometimes I just feel there are so many good causes and so little money. No sooner had I come home than I read Throcky's link to this site, another child in desperate need of funds nobody has enough of.

I guess Birdie has the right idea after all. The secret is just to keep going and going and going...

 

Quote of the Day


Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for a kindness.

- Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

 

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My mileage for the weekend

One Year Ago
The Grand Tour, Epilogue

Two Years Ago
Gay Pride #2


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