Among friends and colleagues I have wanted to try and spread helpful information concerning chronic and invisible illnesses. More people than we probably realize face their own additional battles every day. While not seen by most of us, these struggles are nonetheless real. They are not figments of one’s imagination and can strike anyone at any time. Caregivers have their own unique battles as well with chronic and invisible illnesses. Their emotional battles are intense along with the physical fatigue and repercussions from the physical effects.
I do not have formal medical training. My graduate degrees are in history, and my wife’s are in political science. We both, however, have read about and researched a few medical conditions to the point where discussions with medical professionals in these areas feel more in line with colleague to colleague discussions than patient to MD, PhD, RN, and so on in the medical world. Neither my wife nor I would diagnose or treat anyone, but in certain limited areas we can decipher the medical jargon used in the most current research in the respective medical and academic journals. Our familiarity with the terminology allows for more productive conversations with the medical professionals who determine the appropriate treatment plans. While the danger of feeling capable of self diagnosis and self treatment may become more prominent with limited knowledge, we have managed to avoid that pitfall with my invisible illness. If that previous sentence seems odd, consider it in the manner I learned back as a kid in the strawberry fields. At times you know just enough about something to really get yourself into trouble because you have placed yourself in a position where what you do not know is all that matters.
With that disclaimer, I cannot tell you anything about necrotizing pancreatitis that you cannot look up for yourself or is mentioned in this story about Leon Harris. I can only tell you that Leon Harris is one of my favorite news anchors, and his story is yet another of how illness or injury can strike anyone at any time. If you do not live in the Washington DC area as my wife and I do currently, you may remember Leon Harris from his many years on cable at CNN. A brief biography can be found on the WJLA ABC7 news page.
Having been reared in Livingston Parish, I was fortunate to be able to watch, in many cases meet, and in a few cases work with many TV news personalities either by having them cover events in which I was involved or providing historical information to help them prepare their own stories. Any listing I attempt of television news personalities from New Orleans and Baton Rouge whom I enjoyed watching would be incomplete. Angela Hill, Alec Gifford, Norman Robinson, John Pastorek, Bill Elder, Sylvia Weatherspoon, Andrea Clesi, Margaret Orr, Jay Young, and others just seemed to deliver their reports in informative yet interesting manners. No disrespect meant for Pat Shingleton who is entertaining and a nice guy in person, Mike Graham, Dave Nussbaum who is a current meteorologist in Baton Rouge and excellent in my opinion, Al Duckworth, Terry Burhans, and others, the one weatherman who will always be number one in my mind is Nash Roberts. I wasn’t born yet for storms like Betsy and Camille, but I honestly don’t recall going to any other source for actual information when tropical systems appeared. Every computer and meteorologist could say the eye wall was heading straight for us, but if Mr. Nash drew something different with his black marker you believed him. Likewise, if Mr. Nash said something was coming, it was. Mr. Nash did visit my grandfather’s place when I was a kid, and I met him on several occasions when I was in high school and later as a young adult. Professionally his record speaks for itself, and in person Nash Roberts was a class individual as well based on our interactions.
If you are not familiar with Nash Roberts, please visit this story on his passing in 2010 and the assorted stories on this page from WWL TV New Orleans.
Leon Harris and his anchor partner Alison Starling have that same credibility in my opinion. There is a chemistry on the set that is evident to the viewers, and they appear genuine in their concern for the sadder stories they cover.
With Leon Harris, it is difficult to picture such an abrupt and intense health battle. Obviously, he will have short term issues which might not be apparent to others in his recovery, but I don’t know if this condition will alter his habits long term. I would guess that is likely, but I don’t know because I have no qualifications to know. His situation might not be considered as a “classic” invisible or chronic illness, but we can all learn and gather some hope from his return and recovery regardless of the condition which affects us or someone we know.
Leon does an excellent series entitled “Harris’ Heroes, Featuring the People Who Make a Difference.” You can read a number of the features here.
Alison has her own excellent series entitled “Working Women” which also highlights people overcoming obstacles and making differences in a positive manner. Perhaps when she returns to the air, she will consider making a companion piece about her co-anchor and another colleague.
Leon Harris has become one of his own Harris’ Heroes, and Jacqui Jeras is a “Working Woman” who could be another Harris’ Heroes and who in her own health battles may serve as an inspiration and possibly lifesaver to many others.
We might see how someone is limited if they have a broken leg, but just because we cannot see an injury, illness, or condition, does not make it any less debilitating. If we do not know what is inside, let’s not be so quick to judge, at least not in a negative manner. We all have our individual obstacles and battles, but even though those are unique to us, others face their own obstacles and battles. In my opinion, it’s one of those times when different may and often does mean same.
Our thoughts and prayers to the WJLA personalities, anyone dealing with a chronic or invisible illness, and those who know someone or are themselves dealing with any obstacle set before them,