According to a recent New Yorker article on the science of altruistic behavior, “genes for altruism could evolve if the benefit of an action exceeded the cost,” and this thesis has got me thinking about the etiology of disease, and the feeling of hopelessness one feels when you are dealing with an autoimmune disease in particular, not to mention the broader, sweeping, fear of the sustainability of our planet.

I remember being alone in the hospital, prior to my bowel resection in 2006, and they were trying to keep things calm with my intestines (the risk of bowel perforation was at a critical stage) by giving me large quantities of steroids. A nurse forgot my morning dose, and I swear I could feel my small intestine go from a dormant, dead tissue (my disease was characterized by fibrostenotic scarring) state, to a red hot inflammation. The nurse assured me I had been given my dose of prednisone, and he told me to rest. As I was “resting,” and crying quietly in my bed, a young doctor/fellow, Dr. Bonsui, came by to see me, and wondered why I was so sad.

I credit this DO for squeezing my hand, as he told me, “You must think positive, Dede,” to partly saving my life (my own will to live being the other piece of my personal struggle with overcoming a potentially life-threatening disease). I will never forget his sweet, mellifluous, voice; his bedside demeanor was so kind and gentle. I lay there after he left, and nodded politely when the same nurse came back in, and apologized for skipping my dosage.

These kinds of hospital occurrences are legion; us IBD-ers are used to being patients, but it is important to stand up for your rights and call the professionals for help (or clarification) if you see something amiss.

My visiting medical fellow, Dr. Bonsui, showed me true compassion. I often think of him when I am scared (a few days of diarrhea will do that to me easily), and I remember how he told me to ‘think positive,’ thereby instilling in me the seeds of confidence, and patient empowerment, to get well.

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Today, 5/5/12, people around the world are volunteering, documenting, educating and protesting to support communities on the front lines of climate change.

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A group of school children in Johannesburg who formed a giant dot in a community garden that they’re helping tend and nourish.

From the early morning sunrise in the Marshall Islands, far out in the Pacific, to the countries of Pakistan and South Africa, across deserts and plains, the impact of climate change due to the rise of carbon parts per million in the atmosphere is causing extremes in weather unprecedented in the last 100 years. There is no turning back, in my opinion, and that of other environmentally-minded people around the world. This link will show you some amazing photos and descriptions of how we can “connect the dots” globally, and all act together to save our planet. Looking at these photos, I don’t feel so alone!

You can see me in the lower right corner of the photo below, taken with environmental activists from my home state of Vermont, at the site of the Bartonsville Covered Bridge that was tragically swept away and destroyed by the torrential rains of Tropical Storm Irene last August 28, 2011.

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Photo by Gregory Dennis, #350vt. Link to longer story from the Burlington Free Press, by Joe Solomon.

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