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Friday, September 20, 2013

Dear Jeannie: Paralyzed Athletes and Raising Clones

Dear Jeannie,
Evan was an athlete fresh out of high-school, and he had high hopes of being an Olympic runner. But he is involved in a hit-and-run accident that leaves him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, probably for life. Pretty much all of his dreams and his life up until that point have been crushed; what do you think his immediate reaction would be? How long would any shock from this stick around?

Thank you,
Olympic Runner 

Dear Olympic Runner,

Man, you're cruel, aren't you? :) Athletes who suffer serious injuries are particularly difficult to treat. They are groomed their entire lives to reach certain goals, and when those goals are suddenly and tragically unable to physically be met, it's devastating. His immediate reaction will be shock and disbelief, of course. He'll probably be in denial about the extent of his injuries and will hold on to the belief that he'll walk again, etc. When it become apparent through the passing of time that you're not going to give him a miracle, he'll begin the intermediate stages of grief at that point (depression, mainly). Your specific question as to how long can't be answered, not definitively. Grief is so individualized to each person. But I'd go on a limb to say that the shock could last anywhere from a few days to a week or longer. Denial, however, can last much longer. Athletes just don't want to give up. It's in their blood.

Dear Jeannie,

Mel is in her thirties, working on a top secret space exploration program when a six year old clone of herself shows up. Since there isn't anyone else to take the girl, she is pressured by her sister and boss, who was adopted at a similar age and is very close to Mel, to take her as a daughter. Previously Mel had wanted children and had been the one that would always help someone in need, especially kids, but now she doesn't want anything to do with the girl. What would cause this kind of reaction?

Thanks very much,
Sci Fi Stuck 

Dear Sci Fi Stuck,

Kudos for such a weird, fascinating plot! Since I love brainstorming, here goes: My best guess would be that the girl reminds Mel of things she'd rather leave buried. Childhood can be traumatic for so many reasons, and having to relive it through this little clone might be too much for her. Perhaps the girl makes Mel feel weak and helpless, a being to be enacted upon rather than a strong, top-secret exploration program insider. Maybe the girl embarrasses her by innocently revealing insecurities that maybe still cling to Mel's emotional interior. It could be that the weirdo factor is too high...raising yourself? I'm so curious where you go with this. Hopefully this is helpful in giving you some place to start.

Got Questions?

Leave a comment below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle or Terrified in Texas, and I'll answer your questions in a future Dear Jeannie column.