So I recently watched the biographical movie “A Theory of Everything” about theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. It was an amazing movie-going experience, but at the same time, a spine chilling look into a window of my own life. Not unlike watching aspects and events of my life in a mirror.
Now I am nowhere intelligent enough to understand masters level theoretical physics, I did not graduate from Cambridge or Oxford and I definitely am not world famous for any personal achievements… YET?! What I do share with the young Stephen Hawking however is a severely damaged neurological system. I have a spinal injury and am clinically tetraplegic at C4 level. Though my condition is thankfully not degenerative, I can neither feel nor control any stimulus or voluntary movement below my shoulders.
Before watching this movie I knew next to nothing about motor neurone disease, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease. Being, however, well versed in spinal injury, I was completely shocked to discover the similarities between the two conditions and still cannot watch this film without losing control of my emotions, because though the similarities may not be many, they’re extremely significant: From being unable to carry out simple everyday tasks like brushing my teeth or itching my face to more complex actions like driving, dancing or playing my beloved basketball.
The film also brought to light a number of issues I had previously thought I was at peace with. Boy was I wrong. Most significant of these included the realisation that under slightly different circumstances my live would’ve been extremely short, watching the pain my loved ones went through then not letting people in to prevent said pain and inevitably losing those who can’t handle it but still having them never give up on me. At some points it’s hard to fight the unavoidable feeling you are holding back everyone around you, most especially those closest to you.
However the most valuable thing I take away from the film is hope. Hope that not only will things get better, they won’t stop getting better. I can still dream of this life being as amazing as any, that my mother will never again shed a tear on my behalf lest they be tears of joy, that I may one day share my life with a beautiful woman and our children. This life of hope is amazing. It is intoxicating and I love it. For as long as I have hope, even dreaming of regaining my mobility out of the blue is not a fool’s dream, and for that I will make the best of this life.