My friend George spoke at the recent Lobby Day event in Washington DC. I wish all of you had been there to hear him.
Like many of us there, George has a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). His defect is Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) and he is a retired Pathologist from out West. That’s right – a retired Pathologist. I’m not going to insult him by listing his true age, but George worked a full career with a major heart defect.
He’s quiet and unassuming, probably the result of his years in the medical field. Pathology is a very scientific branch of Medicine; attention to detail is a must and you do not jump to conclusions. So when George stood up to speak, I wasn’t expecting what came next.
Long story short: George tore the house down! He stated that he had recently celebrated a birthday and then he said;
“I firmly believe that one day those of us with heart defects will routinely live to be eighty, ninety, and even one hundred years old.”
That did it for me right there. I’m 43 years old, but I’m 42 years, 7 months past my “expected” life expectancy. And here’s a respected member of the CHD community, a retired scientist, saying that he thinks that one day we’ll live a good long time? And might even hit the century mark? And all we have to do to start down this path is obtain funding for the Congenital Heart Futures Act? Right then, I was ready to walk down to the Capitol (Three blocks away), climb the dome, and rip that statue right off the roof!
George also has a very dry wit; he can tell a joke with such a deadpan expression that you don’t even realize he’s joking. But his humor can bite, as he proved when he recalled an exchange from his younger days.
“`When I attended medical school they taught me that people like you didn’t make it,’ a doctor told me. I didn’t know what to make of that so I didn’t say anything.”
People like you? Wait a minute… that includes me!
“A few moments later the doctor asked me `Have you thought about which medical school you would like to attend?’ I answered, `Not the one that you attended.'”
You tell ’em, George!