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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Desperately Seeking ...

I have written an article for the Los Angeles Argonaut, but it wasn't published. So I'm publishing it here.
Anyone who can help me, please leave a comment or send a mail  (be creative, check linked-in or my website or  ...)

You have given me hope”

It's not just long term friends who can change your life. A short exchange of words with a stranger can be enough. You may gain a new insight, or new strength to hang in and fight some more. Helping you win that heartfelt battle. Those strangers, popping by just once at the right time seem God sent. Stand-in angels.
Is it thwarting Fate, our Creator, karma, to try to get in touch again if such an encounter is etched into your heart?

I'm thinking of one young man I met on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and the 3d Street Promenade in Santa Monica, May 2013. He was in a wheelchair, at his feet a cute dark gray little dog and a cardboard with a lengthy text. No doubt explaining why he was asking for money.
When I see words, I must stop and read, so I walked over, my son in my wake. Yet my eyes never finished the first line. The dog was already between me and the cardboard, begging to be petted, tail wagging like mad, eyes glowing with friendliness. Dogs being more interesting than written words, my son and I went down on our knees to rub and pet and compliment her owner on having such a happy dog.
“I call her Love Bug” the man explained. Was he in his early thirties, or am I wrong, do I remember a few lighter hairs in his short, well groomed beard? “She means a lot to me, giving me so much warmth.” I saw gentleness and warmth in his eyes as well. He thanked me for the banknote I had kept hidden in my hand until then and started telling us why he was begging.

He's had epilepsy all his life, severe grand mal seizures with a very high frequency. Debilitating and life threatening. Only recently had he ran into a specialist who discovered something vital: the seizures could be kept under control by a diet. It was all just starting up, the diet not completely worked out yet, but already the young man had profited from regaining some strength. No longer losing energy in an endless row of convulsions and tremors he had managed to obtain a new and better suited wheelchair and GR. However... the benefit was insufficient for the special dietary food. The money he got from begging allowed him to buy that. Not begging meant going back to daily seizures and tremors.
As he gave me details of the diet I noticed how well spoken he was and beyond his poverty and desperate state I saw an intelligent and sensitive man. In a flash I saw him in a suit, working at an office. It could be true if only...

If only he would meet that one employer who did not only hire risk-free people. People who are guaranteed to show up at their contracted hours, predictable, available. Yet can one be sure they will perform so well in unexpected situations, situations that require real originality or remarkable tenacity?
I am only an intelligent and highly sensitive person and this condition alone has taught me most employers prefer to hire workers who come by the dozen.
I told Love Bug's owner how I, in The Netherlands, had been receiving my food from the food bank for three years, getting desperate about ever finding work again. But here I was visiting L.A. because I had ultimately managed to get a job. I will not forget the change I saw in his eyes. “Thank you, You have given me hope” he said, from the bottom of his soul. With that he gave me hope in return... that I, my life, does matter to others. Don't we all doubt that at times?

Once I got back to The Netherlands I wondered if there could be a way to do more. I have a masters degree in Biology and though I've never worked as a scientist, I still read articles about neurology and behavior. Proper information might add to the quality of his diet or result in a more affordable version. I might get in touch through the staff of the nearby Italian restaurant whose staff members I've seen spoiling Love Bug with attention and a treat while sharing a joke with her boss.
The result of my internet research for anti-epileptic diets was somewhat ironic.... A very good, if not the best source of information was an organization founded in 1994 to advocate the ketogenic diet for children with difficult-to-control seizures: the Charlie Foundation. Located at 515 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica. One mile from where we had our talk.
Did Love Bug's owner know, was his doctor somehow linked to the Charlie Foundation, or did he choose that corner at the 3d Street Promenade by chance? Odd, to be so hopeless and yet so close to a solution -geographically.

My letter to the restaurant, asking if they could help me get in touch, wasn't answered. Maybe it got lost? Or perhaps ... ? I know epilepsy is a dangerous disease.

I still think of Love Bug and her owner, wondering how they may be doing. This article is my second try to hear about them, hopefully from them. I don't know that I can be of real help, but a little attention is like passing on a bit of love. And thereby hope. 

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