Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Dick Clark and courage

Those who know me know that I'm not much of a party person. I prefer the comforts of home and family to loud and contrived parties where the drinks are as watered down as the conversation.

New Year's Eve is typical of this, and over the years I've come to rely on Dick Clark as a familiar face and voice to help mark the transition from one year to the next. It's always been the same script: smooth, fluffy chatter to keep viewers focused as the seconds tick down to the inevitable milestone. The man became a cultural icon because he defined the very best in on-camera delivery.

So when I turned on the television just before midnight and saw him, I admit I was saddened to see him struggle to get through the show. The more I thought about it afterward, however, the more I admired him for his courage. I thought of the countless stroke survivors and their families who were inspired by what he had done, and I knew I wanted to write about the goodness that he had accomplished in the process.

The resulting piece was published in yesterday's London Free Press. Here's the link. Here's the text (see below your today's Your Turn...I hope you'll share your perspective as well):
Dick Clark return emotional moment
Published Tuesday, January 3, 2006
The London Free Press

If more Canadians take the time this year to learn about strokes, they'll have Dick Clark to thank.

Like so many on New Year's Eve, I watched television coverage of the big ball drop in New York's Times Square. Clark returned almost 13 months after suffering a stroke that had kept him silent last year for the first time in more than 30 years.

I'll admit it was initially painful to watch him. His speech was slurred, slow and deliberate. The smooth-as-glass delivery was gone.

Yet in its place was a man with the guts to risk losing his position at the very summit of American pop culture so that more of us would wake up to the risks of strokes.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates some 50,000 Canadians will have a stroke this year. About 16,000 will die. Although stroke risk doubles every 10 years after age 55, it strikes at any age.

Because of Clark's courage, viewers with the foresight to help themselves just might avoid this fate.

Your turn: Stroke and heart disease are the leading killers of Canadians - and I surmise folks of other nations as well. How has heart disease and/or stroke touched your life? How have you coped?


Plumkrazzee said...

My paternal grandpa died of heart diseases at age 68. My maternal grandpa has had 3 different open heart surgeries due to heart disease, starting with his first heart attack at age 46. His wife, my maternal grandma, just had several stents inserted after almost dying from a massive heart attack last year. Scarey for me, what kind of hope do I have?? Awareness and prevention, that's all you can do. Good for D.C. for believing in himself and his if only people would listen.

colleen said...

I missed the New Year show and seeing Dick Clark this year but was glad to hear it through your piece.

I'm not big on crowds and parties either but I love to dance so I have to get out once in awhile.

I admire Dick Clark for coming out too.

Chas Ravndal said...

hello Carmi !! Greeting you a Happy New Year and also I have a close friend who lives in London, Ontario as well and she invited me over

Trillian said...

As you know, I was diagnosed as having a congenital coarctation of the aorta while I was pregnant with my son 11 years ago. Had I not had the narrowing removed after his birth, I likely wouldn't have made it past 30. I was born with a heart murmur, which usually means a bicuspid heart valve, and is often accompanied by a narrow portion of the aorta which impedes blood flow to the lower part of the body. Even though I was told by every new doctor I had that I had a heart murmur, no one investigated it any further or sent me to a cardiac specialist until I changed GPs while I was pregnant!!

As a result of the surgery, I support the heart & stroke association like mad, I give blood regularly, and I encourage people who have a heart murmur to push their doctor for further testing. Life is short enough without testing fate.

Carrie said...

My grandmother suffered from a few strokes before she passed away last year. It's good to see survivors continue on with their lives as best they can. And I wish you much happiness in the new year.

Surcie said...

Good question, Carmi. I gasped when I heard Dick Clark speak on New Year's Eve. Honestly, I felt like crying. The man who was ageless seemed to have instantly become an old man.

In the US, more women die from heart disease/heart attacks than men! I have high cholesterol so I think about it a lot but don't do as much about it as I should. My cholest. is inherited from my dad who survived a big heart attack last March. He is not the same man he used to be--the experience aged him a lot. I'm just glad he's around.

Shelli said...

My mother has had 2 heart attacks and has severe heart disease. She has had several angiograms and one surgery to repair damage done because of her heart disease. In spite of this, she continues to smoke, get little or no exercise and her diet could be a lot healthier. I am lucky to have not lost her already, but I am really worried that it won't be long. She is 61 years old.

Tammy said...

What a tough subject. My father-in-law passed away (he was Canadian, btw) at the age of 69. He appeared healthy, and his passing was a terrible shock to us all, especially to my husband, who was so very close to him. They've never decided for sure just what Eric died from...heart, stroke, an aneurysm...we were never sure. But affected...yes. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, Carmi, to tell Ben that his dad had passed away (he was working at the time and it fell to me to break the news). Yes, it was hard watching Dick Clark struggling...but at least we were able to do so. I wish we could have Ben's dad here, even if it were a struggle.

Thanks for a great, and thought-provoking, post.

Last Girl On Earth said...

Thanks for posting this, Carmi.

Unfortunately, I have lousy reception on my TV, and even though I live only a couple of miles from Times Square, we had to watch another station to watch the ball drop. So I missed Dick Clark.

I have bionic parents. My father has had double bipass, and my mother has had triple along with a valve replacement. Both of them have pacemakers. It is remarkable what they can do these days, though. Of course, I stopped eating red meat years ago!

Anway, I'd like to wish you and your family a wonderful 2006! All the best.

MissMeliss said...

I lost my grandfather to heart disease, and watched my grandmother diminish with each "mini-stroke" she had, which, combined with early alzheimers, meant that she turned from a vibrant, funny, shopaholic, into an eighty-year-old child.

Very sad.

Lovely piece of writing, by the way.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

My mum has had 4 heart attacks. It's not been easy to cope, everytime something happens you worry.

After the last one, it was very hard to go to work for awhile because I wanted to be with her as much as I could. You get to really live day by day when things are bad.