What does my 1994 diagnosis with MS have to do with "civil discourse"?
There are a lot of pressing issues that we face today. One example is that the United States Attorney General has stated a (false or, to be stylish, faux) legal distinction between "due process" and "due judicial process" to validate the United States government’s killing of its citizens. I am a lawyer. I can/should/will address this issue.
Another major issue has to do with health care. "Health care," as an issue, is not limited to how we pay for health care—although that, obviously, is a significant part of "health care." There are other aspects of health care that are not a part of formal, public, civil discourse.
If you receive a really BAD diagnosis, how to pay for treatment (and, ironically, the bills for the tests and such that brought about the decision that this IS the valid diagnosis; why should I have to PAY for really BAD news?) is only part of the matter. What accompanies that diagnosis and what follows are as significant to the person diagnosed and those who care about him or her as payment of the bill. I have first-hand knowledge of this experience. Hemingway ("omg, he’s comparing himself to Hemingway now") once wrote (or said; could Google it to find out for sure) that a writer only should write about what the writer knows. I know what it is like to have gone through this crap.
Let me be clear: I am lucky. I now can walk. I have all of my faculties (although Paul Ogden and others may voice doubts, occasionally, as to that). There are far worse diagnoses I could have received. But I received a diagnosis of MS. I never have written about it. I want to do so now.
How does this tie in to the Mini®? I could not walk when I was diagnosed. The Mini® was sort of a challenge. I also have completed a full marathon. That was in 2001. I have heard it said that a person should do one marathon in her or his life. I did 26.2 miles. I walked it. I always hated running, even when I was on the track team (one year) in high school. I completed that marathon in just under six hours and it was a bear. I agree that if someone can do a marathon—just once—that person should do so, if for no other reason that to understand how crazy it is.
The Mini® became an annual challenge for me. It is an event, the completion of which tells me I am still here and functional. In January, 1994, I could not walk. In 1999 I racewalked the Mini®. The first eight years I completed it in under three hours. I have slowed down the past few years. Last year I did it in just under four hours. Still, I finished it.
The Mini®, since it started in 1978 (I think was the first year; again, I could Google) has become a local tradition. The course itself travels through Indianapolis history. The start goes by the Statehouse. People wind their ways through Haughville and reach the Indianapolis Motor Speedway®. At the end of the race one receives a medal for completion of such a grueling thing.
So that is why, for the next however-many days, I will write about the hospital, the disease itself, and how every year, no matter what, I complete the Mini®. Afterward come a steak and liquid replacement therapy. This is "civil discourse": to discuss important matters in polite, intelligent (again I can sense Ogden wince) and informed fashion. This is something I went through. It is something with which I live each moment of each day.
I hope that my writing about it, and the part the Mini® has played in it, will be informative, helpful, and not excessively boring. This is first-person narrative, however, so if it seems a bit self-centered, that is inherent in the beast.