“You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt,” says Paul Gaylord. This doesn’t sound like a loaded remark, but it is when coming from a man whose hands were, literally, dealt quite a blow; after a bout with bubonic plague he lost eight fingers (and all of his toes, and nearly his life — his recovery came after doctors had discussed with his wife when to remove him from life support after his 27th day in a coma).
MCN processes a lot of reports related to disability claims. As we address questions of causality and medical improvement, it’s important to remember that each claim is not just a report, but that it represents a person, and human suffering, and is also just a very small glimpse into a person’s life. This article is striking in its outlook, and a refreshing reminder not to confuse a misfortune in a life with an unfortunate life. Certainly Gaylord doesn’t.
“I say I’m actually a 1-year-old because I got a second chance at life,” he said. “I can do almost anything I could do before.”
Undoubtedly Gaylord has struggled immeasurably with recovery and adjusting to his new body and all that he had to learn how to do differently. But as the article notes, the Gaylords have a sense of humor about the whole thing, and Debbie Gaylord said her husband has always had a positive outlook about it.
There are numerous studies which show that an injured or sick person’s outlook and attitude are major components not just of how well they will recover but whether they will recover at all. But a study, like a report, is not a human life; and sometimes it is from that individual life that we learn. Certainly there is something to learn from Paul Gaylord and what he has chosen to share with us: that a disability or an illness does not mean that life stops. “Toes are overrated,” Gaylord said. “And I can do a whole lot with just these thumbs.”