Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 8, 2013

RAY DAY: Accept what you are given

— An article printed by the Tribune several years ago remains in my memory as one that gives us a different outlook on life.

The story was about David, the “bubble boy,” who was 12 years old in about 1983. He lived in a large, plastic bubble that protected him from lethal germs.

He lacked two types of white blood cells and B-cells that warded off infections and produced antibodies against germs. Everything he touched had to be sterilized with oxide gas.

His bubble had four compartments, and it took up most of the living and dining rooms. He played electronic games, and even had a small piano in there too. So, except for filtering out the air in the bubble, he was confined to a life inside that area.

He was taught at home by a tutor for two hours each day and had a telephone hookup with his sixth-grade class. He did get to travel on trips with his parents in a portable isolator that fit inside their van.

David was thought first to receive bone marrow from his sister, as that was the only way to get the kind that would match, but that in the long run did not work. They later decided to try a transplant that would enable the use of non-matching bone marrow. The bone marrow was from his sister, but treated with antibodies and a chemical substance that would kill the cells that would attack his body, which, once matched up with David’s cells, would produced disease-fighting cells.

Fifteen days after leaving his sterile environment, David passed away from heart failure.

I remember this story because it showed that under any and all situations, there is someone out there who is fighting the battle of his life and the things you and I are going through are nowhere close to what others might have to face.

David left this world after only having a short time to feel what it was like outside his bubble. He was able to hug and kiss his mom and meet everyone who was involved with his life from day one. The nurses and doctors, as well as the classmates he never knew, felt a loss that they would never again know.

David himself wanted to someday be able to walk barefoot in the grass outside. And so he did just about everything that was needed to be done. Although only 12 years old, he wanted that one chance in a lifetime.

So I wanted everyone to know that even though we have problems, we come nowhere close to what this family had and what David went through. Many times we sit back and complain about the smallest of ailments, and we seek the power of stimulants and pain killers to help us. But let’s just put ourselves in David’s situation and see how much we complain about it.

Life is always giving us new pains and new illnesses. We think we have to get something done about it or get some relief from it, but really we are getting older and we will hurt more today than we did yesterday.

That is life. We accept what we are given by God, and we go on.

Ray “Uncle Ray” Day is a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at uncleray@earthlink.net.