Tag Archives: Social Media

ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge: An Imperfect Place

The devil hides down amongst the cubes*.

You’d have to have not paid your Internet bill over the last couple of months to miss out on knowing about the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge thing.

It started with some professional athletes, not — as myth would have it — an ALS patient. The challenge was to either be filmed dumping a bucket of ice over your head or give money to a charity of your choice. It morphed from there.

And promptly went viral.

Which led to thousands of people filming themselves while having a bucket of ice dumped on their heads while challenging others to do the same. In fact, my dad and I even watched one of those happen poolside at Chabil Mar, a resort in the Central American country of Belize. It was a few weeks ago, before this really hit big so we had no idea what it was about.

Those last four words there. . . That’s what this is about.

So far this post, I’ve written a lot of words about the Ice-Bucket Challenge and mentioned ALS only twice. And never said what ALS really is.

Better known as Lou Gherig’s Disease, named for the New York Yankees baseball player who contracted the disease and thereby showed the bits of the country that liked baseball and were paying attention that the disease existed, ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive, degenerative disease that gradually destroy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and spinal column. Over time, the disease annihilates voluntary control over the body’s muscles, robbing the person with the disease of the ability to move, to speak, to breathe. For some patients, the end point of the disease is total paralysis of the body. And the worst part is that their mind still is active and aware and trapped in a decayed body incapable of responding to anything.

ALS is, to put it mildly, a horrifying disease. Donating money to help fund research into a cure or a way to slow the progression of the disease is definitely a worthy cause. (Those who want to donate without resorting to dumping ice water on their heads can do so at the ALSA gift page.)

So, given all that, I should be all for the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge, right, dudes?. After all, as of Friday, the challenges have resulted in the ALS Association receiving more than $41 million in donations.

My issue is with all the challengers who do nothing but dump ice on their own heads, laugh, record it and then post it to some social media site, daring others to follow suit. They don’t know what ALS is. They don’t donate to any sort of charitable institution, including the ALS Association, and only do it because everyone else is doing it. 

After all, the challenge is donate to the ALSA OR dump a bucket of ice on their heads.

I talked about this on Facebook and was called out by several of my friends there (actual friends who I actually know) for dumping (no pun intended) on the whole idea. They focused on the positives, on the donations that were raised, which are substantial.

I thought about it and talked it over with Zippy the Travelin’ Boy, who has some similar issues with the challenge. While Zippy the Travelin’ Boy still takes issue with it (mostly, I think, because it’s popular and he likes to be a contrarian) and, to be honest, so do I, it all led to the realization that I was focusing too much on the negative.

I’ll pause now for your shocked intake of breath.

This was brought home to me — literally — when Hyper Lad walked up to me with a hang-dog look, holding a bucket of ice and a video camera.

Before I would participate, he and I had a long talk about what amyotrophic lateral sclerosis actually does and agreed that he would donate money to the ALS Association.

Only then could I laugh at him when his oldest brother, Sarcasmo, poured cube-filled, ice-cold water over the young dude’s head.

Yes, in a perfect world, Hyper Lad’s fellow shiverers would be donating to worthy charitable causes on a regular basis and also donating their time, sweat and effort. They’d already know what ALS really is, why we should support research toward a cure, and be doing the ice thing only to help raise awareness and get more people to donate money to worthy charities.

But, as the estimable John Bender once said: “Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”

And it’s true.

Screws do fall out all the time.

I guess I’ll just have to live with the idea that people are dumping ice on their heads just because everybody else is doing it. And also some of them might actually understand that this is being used to help raise money to combat an appalling disease.

It’s not perfect, but that’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

As if the world were waiting for my approval anyway.

*Yes, this was an imperfect metaphor. I was trying to evoke the whole thing about the devil being in the detail and then conflating that with the ice-bucket challenge. Don’t judge me. I was . . . stretching.


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Facebook Literally Saved Her Life

SquareP is alive today because of Facebook.

Yes, I mean the Facebook you’re all thinking about, the social media gathering place for all of us old people now that the young have bolted for places like tumblr, snapchat and Instagram and others.

Okay, yes, Facebook did have a little help, but I think it’s safe to say that, without Facebook, there’s a very real possibility that a woman I’ve known for decades, SquareP, could be dead.

It started last week when my wife, known herein after for this post as The Doc, was out of town giving a couple of different lectures. She’s only been on the Facebook for a couple of months and has taken to it like a duck to water.

So, she was out of town and being driven from one lecture in Tennessee to the second lecture in Asheville, NC. As she was being driven along, she decided to check in on Facebook to see what was happening.

In her stream, she found a post by SquareP that said she was having a really bad headache and wanted suggestions.

“I couldn’t believe it,” The Doc said. “Is this how we get our health care now? From Facebook?”

When she related the story to me later, I told her to think of it as someone hanging around in the breakroom and asking co-workers if they knew anything for a headache.

Moving on.

The more The Doc read about SquareP’s headache, the less she worried about the rest of the posts and the more worried she became about her friend.

“Initially, I told her it was a migraine and suggested some medications that could help,” said The Doc.

However, SquareP insisted she had never had a migraine before and denied that it was one because this was the worst headache she’d ever had in her life. At which point all the alarm bells began ringing in the back of The Doc’s brilliant brain.

“The worst headache of your life. . . That’s a prime reason to go to an emergency room or urgent care and get evaluated. It could be a lot of things and none of them are good.”

The Doc posted that SquareP should call her. Immediately. The phone conversation consisted of The Doc listening for a few minutes and then suggesting — in the strongest, most order-like fashion — that SquareP hie herself to an urgent care facility or emergency room stat! Apparently, The Doc managed to scare SquareP enough that she did just that.

I’ll let SquareP tell the next bit in her own words.

Was diagnosed with a blood clot in my brain. Scared the hell out of me but it’s completely treatable. So if you find yourself having horrible headaches especially if you’re not prone to them and they come out of nowhere, get yourself to the ER. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Yes, dudes, a blood clot in the brain. As SquareP said, very treatable with blood thinners and the like, but damn scary. It had nothing to do with me and it nearly scared me insensate.*

It was an amazing set of coincidences that allowed all this to happen. SquareP happened to post asking Facebook for help about her headache at just the exact same time that The Doc just happened to be flipping through Facebook and had the time to respond. SquareP actually called The Doc and The Doc talked SquareP into getting evaluated in person by a medical professional.

Long-distance scaring by The Doc leading to a longer life for SquareP. And today she’s home and all is good.

Without Facebook, none of this happens and the outcome could have been much, much worse. And here I was thinking bad thoughts about the usefulness of Facebook. I take it all back.**

Footnotes & Errata

* Ha, ha. Yes, fine. It doesn’t take much. Very funny.
** Well, most of it, anyway. There’s still plenty to annoy.

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Yoga Dad Turns Cancer To A Positive

Yoga dad Dennis Ingui has a story to tell that all you dudes need to hear.

Now, I don’t normally turn over the precious white space here at A Dude’s Guide very often, much less three times in less than a week, but this is a special case. See, a friend of mine told me about Dennis and, once she did, I knew I’d have to have him share his story here with all of you. It’s a long story, so I’m going to have a jump that I want you to follow and I think you will.

This yoga dad is more than a health nut, more than a cancer survivor, more than a business man. Although he’d probably fight against anyone telling him this, he’s a bit of an inspiration. But let’s hear the story from Dennis’ mouth instead of mine.

Despite completely changing my life starting with a yoga practice at the age of 48, I wouldn’t call it a mid-life crisis.  

My mid-life turnaround was brought about after a stunning diagnosis of prostate cancer and surgery. What began as a journey of recovery and self-discovery has grown into a new business venture, mentorship for other budding entrepreneurs and a path toward philanthropy, touching the lives of children and adults across the globe.

Born and raised in the Bronx, I’ve always been athletic and physically fit. Which meant I was thrown completely off guard after a cautionary check up with my urologist showed a slightly rising PSA test. I will never forget the moment I received a call from the doctor on my way to the airport for a business trip. Immediately, I turned the car around and my wife and I went straight to the doctor. Within a few weeks, I was scheduled for surgery.

Continue reading Yoga Dad Turns Cancer To A Positive

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