After I encouraged her not to give up, I left to purchase something for her, and upon my return, found her fixated on the television. And we met Ami Ankileweitz.
Ami was being featured in National Geographic's Extraordinary Humans, and the specific episode was covering individuals who suffer from extreme muscle deterioration. Ami has Spinal Muscle Atrophy, a condition that has caused his muscles to wither away. Looking at him is heartbreaking, as he is nothing but skin and bones and wide, curious eyes. We watched with bated breath as the doctor's discussed his condition, and his will to live past the 6 years that were estimated to him, as he was now 41 years old. He weighs only 39 pounds and isn't capable of any movement below his neck.
Lo and behold - he attributes his will and years of life to his passion and desire to travel.
The discussion quickly turns to whether or not he should be allowed to travel to Thailand, a dream of his since he was 18. His tremendous passion to live and experience new countries has provided hope for him to continue on, and his family struggles with concern that he will stop breathing while abroad as the muscles in his chest have almost entirely deteriorated.
I almost stopped breathing myself, captivated by his story. Here was a man who looked sick, couldn't move, could barely communicate, yet did not lose touch with his dream to travel the world. The episode ended before the conclusion on whether or not he went to Thailand, but I don't think I will ever forget him. I hope with all my heart he made it, and I imagine I will be thinking of him one day when I walk Thailand's streets myself.
For information on the National Geographic episode: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/extraordinary-humans/4923/Overview#tab-Overview
For more information on Ami: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051208/REVIEWS/51205004/1023