“Everybody’s Got Something”
We are all human.
We are all different and still all the same.
We all live under the same sun.
We all see the same moon.
I heard the phrase proclaiming that “everybody’s got something” on Good Morning America this past week when the well-respected anchor Robin Roberts introduced her new memoir by that exact title. The book relates Roberts’ story about overcoming breast cancer, her bone marrow transplant and a rare blood disorder known as myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS. If you follow ABC’s Good Morning America, you know how inspirational and heart-warming Robin Roberts is. She has shared her story — the woebegone and the triumphant — and she now feels like a true best friend. She has revealed her secrets, deep thoughts and her tears along with an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows.
What an amazing woman!
She puts my life in perspective. Yes, everyone’s got something. It is a strong statement that we should bear in mind, every day as we connect with other people in our life’s journey. It helps me remember that everyone I meet along the way has their own struggle going on. Our shared humanity is felt within the heart. We are here to connect and uplift each other.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
This quote is often misattributed to Plato, but the truth be told, it is from It is from Ian Maclaren (pseudonym of Rev. John Watson; (1850 – 1907) who was a Scottish author and theologian. (I say this with great pride and accuracy as I know some outstanding Scottish individuals and feel truly blessed to have them in my life.)
I am so acutely aware of my own struggles and obstacles. I discuss them freely and hope that it does not seem I am preoccupied with my personal problem. I share my thoughts, procedures, my milestones and backward steps in the field of heart disease in this blog because that is what I truly “know” about. I experience it every day and on every level. I try to “stay on top” of what is new and innovative in the field of heart disease.
My “About Me” profile of the blog summarizes my thought process well:
I write from the heart about “this old heart’s” experiences, thoughts and emotions as I move up on the learning curve in the field of heart disease. Here at thisoldheartblog, you will find a collection of my life’s journey in relation to heart disease along with educational information, filled with the understanding and sense of who I am, where I am coming from and where I am going. My hope is that thisoldheartblog will touch your life in some small way, provide you with inspiration or motivation to move forward or help you smile at this “adventure” of heart disease.
I can see my own difficulties so clearly. I do not lose sight of the fact that “we all got something.” I believe that is the piece of this blog that enticed me to add the “lessons of the heart” along with medical and factual information. I want to “touch your heart” in both emotional and physical ways. Life is about faith, family, friends and the support and connection you have along the way. We are here for each other.
Yes, “everybody’s got something.” That is what Robin Roberts’ mother used to always say to her. No matter if you are rich or poor, famous or unknown, homeless or wealthy; you no doubt have some health condition or family struggle, or inner turmoil that you are trying to cope with.
Ms. Roberts’ mother did not stop with that powerful statement. She went on to say: “Make your mess your message.” We need to embrace our struggle. Own it. Move forward. Feel the love and support from family and friends and even strangers. Like Winnie the Pooh, “… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
You can see the outpouring of inspiration in the stories we hear from the people impacted by current world situations from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to the Boston Marathon bombings to more local situations like the random acts of kindness for Derek. People turn the situation around and “make good out of bad.” It seems impossible but human beings make good come in the face of unimaginable pain.
Robin Roberts has a poignant story in her book about Janne Kouri that illustrates this “good out of bad” phenomenon. This is my favorite excerpt from Robin Roberts’s book. It is so uplifting that it melts your heart.
“For the past few years, I’ve been the host of the Oscars Red Carpet Live. It’s like the pregame for Hollywood’s biggest night. Lots of glitz, glamour and movie stars. In 2012, I arrived in Los Angeles feeling a little more tired than usual. Covering the Oscars is exhausting. I usually fly out Friday after Good Morning America. I stay at the hotel that is attached to the theatre where the Oscars are held. This makes it more convenient to go to rehearsals for the show. Plus I don’t have to worry about wrinkling my Oscar dress in the car. I just walk from my hotel room to the Red Carpet. That year I flew out to LA a day early to do a story on Janne Kouri.
Janne was told he would never walk again. A freak accident in the ocean in 2006 left him paralyzed from the neck down. His then-girlfriend, Susan, told me the doctor looked her right in the eye and said: “You need to prepare for him never to walk again.”
Before the accident, the six-four, 285-pound Kouri was a star defensive tackle on the Georgetown University football team with NFL prospects. His friends gave him the nickname “The General” for his take-charge attitude. His spinal cord was fractured in two places.
During the two months he was in intensive care, Janne developed pneumonia and almost died twice. Susan told me there were many times he said to her, “You don’t need to do this. You don’t need to be here.” Susan told me, “I promised him that as long as his heart and his mind stayed the same that I would love him.”
The couple moved to Louisville to work with Dr. Susan Harkema. She helped develop a cutting-edge therapy known as “locomotor training.”
The late actor Christopher Reeve, someone I was fortunate to meet, was among her first test subjects. The training teaches the spinal cord how to control motor functions like walking by using repetitive motion. After two months of intensive training, Janne had his first milestone, a little toe wiggle. And in May 2009, Janne took his first steps in three years with the assistance of a walker.
Always thinking of others, “The General” had an idea. He wanted to make this training available near his home in California. With the help of many, Janne raised the funds to start NextStep Fitness, a nonprofit rehab center in Los Angeles where anyone could get locomotor training at an affordable price.
Janne was doing something my mom taught me: Make your mess your message. I went to conduct the interview at NextStep, and my jaw dropped when I walked through the door. First of all, it was a large automatic sliding door, and people in wheelchairs were working out in the gym.
I never stopped to think that the fitness centers I go to are not wheelchair-friendly environments. I was there for Janne’s most recent milestone: standing for the first time, on his own, without his walker.
I loved when he jokingly told me, “I forgot how tall I was.”
I and many others did not know what else was about to happen.
He and my producer, Rich McHugh, had a little—make that a huge—surprise for us. Especially Susan, who is now Janne’s wife. They married a year and a half after his accident.
After Janne stood one more time, he asked Susan to help him. Then their wedding song, “Better Together,” started to play, and they did something they couldn’t do at their wedding.
They danced. I melted into tears of happiness. It was so beautiful to witness.”
There is no need to say more.
“Everybody’s got something.”
“Make your mess your message.”
Yup, you know it! Please take care of your heart. ♥
If you want to shed some tears of joy, please watch Janne Kouri “making his mess his message”: