Wingspread, Administration Building and the Research Tower
This past week I was in Milwaukee and Racine WI to visit the sites owned by the SC Johnson Foundation and by SC Johnson. It was thrilling excursion for a person who admires the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The administration building at SC Johnson is rated as one of ten best building designs of the 20th century. This video link provides more information than you would ever want to know about the administration building as well as a bit about the Johnson family and company. It is fascinating but not necessary to this blog:
The research tower is a marvel. It may be one of the tallest cantilever built buildings in the world. A cantilever design means the floors are suspended like a child’s set of blocks where the platforms extend from the central core and the outer skin is simply hung on each floor. It is a marvel of engineering that is was built and even stands. It is one of the most amazing buildings ever built both for its beauty and its design. Here is a news video (much shorter) about the research tower”
and a picture of it being built:
The house named, Wingspread, is a typical Wright prairie design and it is amazing both for its beauty and its lack of functionality. Typical of a Wright design the house is beautiful but not really all that functional. Here is a link to see the pictures of Wingspread:
So the point of this blog is not really about how cool I think these buildings are, rather it is about the uniqueness of Mr. Wright’s vision and his ability to stick with ideas even if they seemed ridiculous. The thing about Mr. Wright was he certainly took his own path. In some ways the world is better for what he did, and in other ways ignoring convention turned out to be a very bad idea.
I found some amazing lessons about diabetes in the stories I heard about Mr. Wright this week. Mr. Wright chose a personal path for his vision of how buildings should be built. Many scoffed at his lunacy and others thought he was a genius. In the end he was somewhere in between. He had significant failures and brilliant insights that made incredible buildings.
We do the same with our diabetes. We take input from parents, doctors, dieticians, mental health professionals and CDE’s. Some of that information we assimilate and use. Other ideas we ignore and go on without using it. Much more we file away in our mind, chew on it a bit and then take what works for us and discard the rest.
A doctor once told me that testing 2 times a day was adequate for an insulin dependent diabetic. At the time I was not testing even once a day and thought well twice could work. So I proceed on down the line choosing to not test and ignoring my diabetes. I had some rough spells but mostly I just got along. When I did decide to start testing the doctor said he would write me a script and he wanted me to test at least 4 times a day. I knew I could never do it so I started with 2 times a day. It was after all “enough” in a doctor’s opinion (of course that was 20 years earlier). So I started with 2 per day and well I now test 10 to 15 times a day.
The thing is no one could have told me to test this much. I would have ignored them and claimed it was an invasion of my privacy. But when it became useful to me I was more than willing to test excessively. Now I might have gone overboard, but I like the feedback.
The thing is I am not doing it to satisfy a doctor, a mom, a therapist, or anyone else. I am doing it for me. It is after all my disease, and I have to chart my own course. That is what I so admire about Mr. Wright. He was wrong a lot. But it never seemed to bother him. His designs were leading edge, unique and for some inspiring.
My diabetes management will never inspire anyone, but it is unique. It is uniquely mine. In order to survive we have to make it our own. No one can really tell me how to manage this disease. They can suggest, offer help, or give their insights but it is mine to manage.
Diabetes is one of the few things in this world we uniquely own. It is ours. My mom used to say that if she followed every doctor instruction she could not be herself. I think that is true for most of us. If we did everything suggested we would cease being ourselves. I think it is ok to discard information we are given. Now I have to caution, that discarding a doctor’s suggestion can lead to failure.
I blundered when I stopped seeing doctors for over 20 years. I missed so much of what might have been life altering care. But I truly do not regret it. In that time and place it was not me. Today I am different. I want all the medical care and all the medical advances I can find, funny how we sometimes learn from our experiences. So for me diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis are personal diseases. Maybe in that regard I look at the uniqueness of Mr. Wright and stand in awe, after all my personal failures are mine to bear. When Mr. Wright failed others had to suffer as did his reputation, and that makes his work controversial. But when he got it right he hit home runs. Those home runs are what made him great.
No I am not an island. My plan is wife’s life and our children’s reality so I have to take that into account. But I still have to live it and in the end it is my path, good and bad. I am glad to wear my path as I wear a suit of porous armor. I hope you will always be willing to wear yours. Once we adopt our own path we have a coat of armor that stops the ridiculous ideas and is porous enough to allow learning. Now I know that sometimes my path sucks. But when I hit a home run, it is a thing of beauty. May you always hit home runs on your path. When you strike out, I hope you learn from your failure. When we celebrate success and learn from failure our path becomes easier. At least we stop being at war with the outside world.