A Reporter Documents the Experience of Dying

September 14th, 2006 by Zach Rodgers

Dying is, of course, a universal experience, and for obvious reasons one rarely documented. Yes, we have uncommon instances like Timothy Leary’s very public disembarkation from his earthly vessel, the horrific decapitations of prisoners in Iraq and similar morbid videos to be found online, and many stories of death in war and famine that are caught by reporters and photojournalists. Also, in the past few years several bloggers have gone rather loudly into that good night. (I recall one particularly inspired blog written by a man dying of Cancer, but can’t find it now on a few cursory Web searches. Please leave a comment if you know the one I’m referring to.)

Here’s another to add to the list. Leo Green, a reporter and videographer for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, was recently diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. But rather than hang up his keyboard and camera and withdraw from his work to die in privacy, he’s decided in conjunction with the paper to document the experience online. His goal is to raise awareness about ALS, which is rare and so receives less research funding than many other diseases for which there are no cures. An excerpt:

Like an old neon sign, parts of my nervous system are buzzing, flickering, beginning to blink out.

As the neurons die, the muscles follow.

My arms grow thin. I limp. My speech slurs. Two hands are needed to shave.

I suffer from a disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. I received the official diagnosis just 11 days ago.

” … and there’s no cure,” my doctor said, tucking the phrase into the end of a long sentence.

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