A life well lived

May 29, 2008

OK, let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves, no matter how hard our lives have seemed. Just imagine having to hoe this row:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A woman who defied medical odds and spent nearly 60 years in an iron lung after being diagnosed with polio as a child died Wednesday after a power failure shut down the machine that kept her breathing, her family said.

Dianne Odell, 61, had been confined to the 7-foot-long metal tube since she was stricken by polio at 3 years old.

Family members were unable to get an emergency generator working after a power failure knocked out electricity to the Odell family’s residence near Jackson, about 80 miles northeast of Memphis, brother-in-law Will Beyer said.

The story goes on to explain that she was afflicted with polio three years before the vaccine that stopped its spread was discovered and that only about 30 people are still confined to those old iron lungs, most of them not all the time. As I get older and think about my own mortality, the one thing that really galls me (other than the fact that there will be so many great advances I will miss) is that I might die of something they will find a cure for a year or two later.

Someone who knew her said Odell accepted her life “with grace.” So few of us who are much better off do.

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