We spend most of the morning in a small room in the neurology department. Usually eight or nine technicians and doctors come by to run tests, ask questions, give us encouragement and share results. We've been there often enough that many remember us and we remember them and are getting to know about their families and goals and pet peeves. So far the final score for Derrol has been good -- no measurable decline. We know he is an anomaly. My brother says its because his church is praying for Derrol. That works for me! He also takes a little pill twice a day that has proven less than effective on most ALS patients, providing a meager 10 percent extension of life. Yet, 10 percent is 10 percent! And the $400 per month pricetag, although a strain on our wobbly budget, seems a worthwhile investment. Whatever keeps him with me, I want it!
You would think a place where the sickest of the sick go for help would be depressing. True the place is filled with walking wounded. Most of us there belong to the same brotherhood and we go to Mayo for an injection of hope. That hope seems to lighten the atmosphere. We know we're in a good place and the kind of service and care provided gives us back our humanity.
It probably also helps that the richest of the rich also frequent this campus, and also donate to it and provide endowments and put their names on wings and such. So in addition to brightly lit hallways and what I think is a Chihuly designed light in the newly built main entrance to the state of the art hospital -- the walls are lined with art.
Being in Jacksonville, Florida, the art naturally turns to Florida's strange and wonderful plants and animals.
During our lunch break we meandered from the neurology department which is quite a trek from the cafeteria. We took the opportunity to enjoy the paintings, but I stopped in my tracks when I saw the only fabric art (that I could find) in the whole clinic. My husband was halfway to the cafeteria before he noticed me missing. I stood mesmerized, trying to take in all of the intricate details and symbolism of this delightful fabric creation.
Shortly after arriving home, I contacted Mayo's PR department for more information and Lyn Closway was most helpful in telling me that "In 2007, Mayo Clinic in Arizona celebrated its 20th anniversary, in part by unveiling quilted artwork. The 13-foot wide, 5 feet high quilt portrays Mayo Clinic taking root among saguaro cactus, agave and palo verde trees. Just as Mayo Clinic practices medicine by teamwork, this intricate work of art was also created by collaboration. After two years and countless hours of cutting, fabric dyeing, stitching, beading and appliquéing, a team of six woman, led by Denise Currier and Dr. Renee Caswell, completed a priceless metaphor for Mayo Clinic's first 20 years in Arizona."
There's another quilt, not on display at Mayo, but hopefully it will be able to offer hope and help researchers who are striving to find a treatment and a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a queen sized quilt that is a treat for the eye and a comfort when wrapped around you. Derrol, our friend Lyn Rocca and I donated the quilt, made by Trish Bowman of Jersey Girl Quilts in Orlando. Raffle tickets are available at $5 each or 3 for $10 through the ALS Association's website.
I hope you will dig deep and take a few moments to visit the ALS Association website and purchase your tickets. You see, this Florida Chapter of the ALS Association has never raffled a quilt before and most of their meager administration staff have little confidence in a quilt as a fundraiser. They don't understand that the quilting and fabric arts community support one another and give to charities and to help one another when we ourselves are in need.
I know there are many MANY deserving charities. But please consider that ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease targets healthy individuals, those who run marathons and are active and watch what they eat. There is no reason why a person gets it -- none that science has discovered -- and it destroys voluntary muscles usually beginning with hands and feet and working its way inward until it steals voice and swallow and breath. It is a mean disease.
But worst still. It is showing up at twice the normal rate in members of our military. It doesn't matter what war they fought in or whether they saw combat, members or our military are diagnosed with ALS so rapidly that the Veterans Administration has made special provisions to deliver care more speedily to ALS victims. You see, ALS victims usually die within six years of diagnosis. And sadly we're seeing so many that die within a year of the onset of their first symptoms.
A cluster of ALS diagnosis has cropped up at NASA and the Kennedy Space Center and the nearby air bases in Florida. But scientists need funding to continue their search for cause and cure and this one queen sized quilt is offered as a token and an invitation to help us find that cure.
Please purchase your raflle tickets. Please help us save our soldiers, our loved ones and my husband and sons. We have a special stake in this cure because Derrol is one of the 10 percent of ALS victims whose disease is inherited. More than a dozen members in his family have died and we have two sons and a grandson who have 50-50 chances of inheriting the disease.
But, enough about us. Enough about illness. It is a quilt raffle and some lucky person will take home this queen sized quilt made from Hoffman batik fabrics in a Bird of Paradise pattern. I'd been calling it a tulip pattern, but I stumbled across a site today that gave it a name. Bird of Paradise seems just right for this quilt of Florida origins. And just the right name for a quilt that offers so much hope through the dollars it will raise for research.
Thank you everyone!