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On a centre for people with neurological illnesses.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE ONE HUNDRED AND ONE
Not only prisons keep their portals locked. The Associació Vallès Amics de la Neurologia (AVAN), like many other voluntary organisations dedicated to the care of people with damaged nervous systems, ensures that the gates of its centre in Sabadell are secured at all times to prevent its patients from drifting into a world that doesn't have a clue as to their particular needs and difficulties. When I went there last week, I was expecting to see mainly middle-aged or elderly people, more likely as they were to be affected by Parkinson's, MS, Attention Deficit Disorder and similar illnesses. So it was a surprise to find a very young man in the audience. It turned out he'd been in a car crash, then six months of coma, and now he was fighting to make the simplest moves, to mouth the shortest of syllables. But what impressed me most was not just the sight of him bravely going through his as yet limited motions, but a sudden flash of a feeling that I'd somehow known – and known well – his pre-crash self, so familiar did the healthy, amiable, outgoing 22-year-old lurking in his immobile eyes seem to me. It was as if I'd just recognised a friend. No wonder, I realised, that recently I've been getting more involved with what used to be called charities that help what used to be called handicapped people. I don't do it for the warm afterglow that some do-gooders claim as compensation for their work. Given that I am ever more aware that absolutely anyone at any time might be condemned by illness or accident to a wheelchair or a zimmer frame and find themselves requiring the services of associations like the AVAN, I do it selfishly bearing everyone I care about in mind. Myself above all.