This day in 1875 was the first Kentucky Derby. Coincidently, today is also the same date, in 1947, that champion thoroughbred racehorse, Seabiscuit, died. And more coincidently and deeply meaningful to me personally, the book Seabiscuit: An American Legend, was written by Laura Hillenbrand. Hillenbrand is one of my significant inspirations because she, as I, suffers from Chronic Fatigue.
I’ve had Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia for over fifteen years. Some days I can barely get out of bed. All the other days, it just hurts to get out of bed but I make myself do it. When I read of Hillenbrand’s illness and struggles, and then read her books Seabiscuit and Unbroken, I couldn’t help but be encouraged. The mindboggling work it had to have taken for her to first do the research, then to actually write the stories, would have been arduous at the absolute least for a person of impeccable health and energy. But for her to have accomplished those feats while working through the challenge of the brain fog and memory loss, the exhaustion, the unexplainable unpredictable pain, or sometimes just simply (ha! not simple at all!) sitting up in a chair to work, I can only be heartened. When I have a day that I can’t hold my arms over a keyboard let alone string words together in a coherent sentence that anyone else would want to read, I consider Laura Hillenbrand and I know it can be done. Maybe not that very day when I can’t function, but I realize another day will be better. And on those tolerable days, I push through and do as much as I can.
Seabiscuit was a determined little horse. No one thought the small, knobby-kneed horse would amount to much. But he showed them. Louis Zamperini of Unbroken by Hillenbrand tells of Zamperini surviving with amazing resilience against terrible odds. I think I sense a theme there. Maybe Laura Hillenbrand is inspired to get out of bed by the likes of Seabiscuit and Zamperini. Well, I am inspired to get out of bed by Hillenbrand. Thanks, Laura, for soldiering on!
(Hillenbrand's moving and remarkable story of suffering with CF, A Sudden Illness, is told in her article that originally appeared in 2003 in The New Yorker.)
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