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The Fluther Interview: whatthefluther and sccrowell

11:07 am

johnpowellSince the widely popular Fluther Proposal, there aren’t many in the community that haven’t heard of whatthefluther and sccrowell.  But even before that thread, the two were well lurved by all for their friendly personalities and caring answers.  They’ve both seen a lot of ups and downs in life, but manage to continue smiling and spreading the happiness.

At first, it might seem unfair to devote only one interview to both these amazing people.  Surely such interesting and charismatic people deserve their own interviews? However on Fluther, it is hard to think of one without thinking of the other.  This is the first part of a two part interview with the couple.

Fluther's Avatar How did you two find Fluther and what made you stay?

sccrowell's Avatar Sherry: I had just purchased our iPhones and the sales associate showed me some apps, including fluther. As soon as I had it downloaded, I asked a question about the worlds longest bridges and was hooked.

Gary: Sherry was so excited, I just had to check it out. One question about bungee-jumping and parachuting grabbed me (I had done both) so I thought, wtf, I’ll join and offer my 2 cents. Since then I’ve put in many bucks worth of change.

Fluther's Avatar How did you meet?

whatthefluther's Avatar Gary: Sherry’s younger brother was an acquaintance of my late wife and he introduced Sherry to both of us. We all quickly became good friends and before long Sherry became my wife’s best friend. My marriage ended in tragedy when my still relatively newlywed bride, committed suicide. I had already been diagnosed with ALS when we met and I believed she had the strength to see me through my illness, but I misread her. Following her death I put my fate in the hands of a then dear friend who betrayed me in a yet to be explained heartless fashion which I rightly or wrongly attributed to my worsening condition.

With two “innocent” victims, I vowed to myself that I would not allow my condition to take anyone else out with me. But, I needed assistance. Sherry, at the time was in a less than desirable relationship, offered her assistance and moved into my home to care for me. That was the beginning of the beginning and neither one of us had the power to stop what would happen. Sherry was already a good friend and very attractive and I was and am simply irresistible.

Fluther's Avatar Gary – Your Fluther interests list Native American jewelry and collecting bronze sculptures. When did this interest start? Do you have a large collection?

whatthefluther's Avatar Actually, I collect quite a few things. When I “retired” from my job due to my health condition, I became a reluctant homebody. I redirected my energy and passion to collecting which I found both interesting and challenging. I discovered and fell in love with Native American silver jewelry, which is actually very wearable art. I own many pieces by most of the well-known contemporary artisans as well as many wonderful vintage pieces. It’s an impressive collection. As for the bronze figurines/statues, I count well over a dozen just in my playroom and this count pales in comparison to that in the rest of the house. Actually, our house is overfilled and I’ve had to become very selective. We do have a rather interesting piece of yard art well known in our neighborhood. It’s a ten foot tall knight in shining armor standing guard in front of our house…we call him Elmo and I believe the neighbors think we are eccentric (or, crazy…it does, however, provide a recognizable landmark when giving directions).

Fluther's AvatarSherry – You asked Fluther about meeting Fall out Boy when you won tickets. How was the experience? What questions did you end up asking them?

sccrowell's AvatarAs you may have recently learned, I am often times late. Well, we ran late, missed the “meet & greet.” but we did catch the entire performance which was excellent.

Fluther's AvatarYou two seem to be big music fans. What are your top three favorite bands?

whatthefluther's AvatarWe are huge music fans and for a time we were attending three concerts a month (living in Los Angeles has its rewards). It’s difficult to write a short list, but our mutual favorites are The Killers, The Fray and Coldplay. Sherry also loves Green Day, Linkin Park and James Blunt. Gary loves R.E.M., Depeche Mode and Ryan Adams among hundreds more.

Fluther's AvatarIs there a concert you haven’t seen yet that you really want to see?

whatthefluther's AvatarWe’ve actually had tickets to see The Cure, Radiohead and Linkin Park but did not attend due to illness. We hope to still catch them some day. We’re also looking forward to seeing Death Cab for Cutie perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl with Canadian indie supergroup – The New Pornographers opening the show. We’ll also soon be seeing Third Eye Blind and will be joining them for a pre-show dinner buffet unless of course Sherry makes us late again.

Fluther's AvatarGary – When did you get diagnosed with ALS? Can you tell us a little about the disease? Also, would you consider using a brain-machine interface like Stephen Hawking?

whatthefluther's Avatar I was diagnosed with ALS in 2000. Most people are familiar with the classic form of ALS like that which struck Lou Gehrig where symptoms manifest quickly with paralysis and death occurring within two years. It is a neurodegenerative disease (within the MDA umbrella so I could be one of Jerry’s poster boys one day!) caused by the failure of nerves that control voluntary muscle movement resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy and ultimately paralysis. As it spreads, the muscles for breathing and swallowing weaken and respiratory failure is usually the cause of death. I have familial (genetic) ALS and in fact have a very rare genetic mutation, that was simultaneously discovered in me and one other patient halfway around the world. As I’ve mentioned previously here on Fluther, this type of ALS would put me (as it has Professor Stephen Hawking), in the 5% of ALS patients to survive ten or more years. I am approaching that goal, though my grandmother, the only other known victim in the family, survived only eight years. But, I was in much better physical condition at onset and pushed my body, to stay as mobile as possible for as long as I could.

But of course it’s a losing battle. I’m barely mobile now and although I don’t yet require ventilation support, my breathing has been affected and is becoming more difficult. (Aside: I believe this is the fourth time in Fluther history that the names wtf and Stephen Hawking have been mentioned together…I am so not worthy).

Fluther's AvatarSherry – How do you deal with Gary’s ALS? Where do you find the strength to see someone you love so much be in pain? I think most of us are incredibly in awe of you since it takes great character to stick by someone when things get tough. Do you have any advice for any Flutherites that might be dealing with relatives that have fatal diseases?

sccrowell's AvatarActually, it is very difficult, but really doesn’t compare to the pain, frustration, and challenge Gary faces each and every day. He still nearly always wears a smile and I admire his positive attitude but I realize he often hides his pain from me. He is quite a remarkable man and I love him very much, and as they say, love can transcend anything. I feel blessed to have him in my life and am grateful for every minute I get to share with him. I know I will lose him before too long but just refuse to dwell on that.

Fluther's AvatarGary – Have you had to undergo any major lifestyle changes yet?

whatthefluther's AvatarUnfortunately tons of them…I had been extremely active. Here’s some things I formerly enjoyed and took for granted but can no longer do: whitewater river rafting, skydiving, motorcycling, driving an automobile, running, walking, standing in one place, at 6’ 2”, hovering over most people in a crowd (now in a wheelchair at 4’ whatever”), hugging Sherry tight and taking her feet off the ground, doing darn near anything with my right hand/arm (with the left getting progressively worse), opening a bottle of wine (hell…opening anything including a door knob), inserting and turning a key, being able to write legibly, being able to type with more than one finger, being able to help clean the house and work in the garden, an incredibly challenging and rewarding career, to name just a few.

Fluther's AvatarSherry – Not many people know that you were attacked by a dog and had to deal with many surgeries following the incident. Will you tell us what happened?

sccrowell's AvatarAfter swimming one afternoon, my Mom’s boyfriend, Mel, took me back to my apartment. After about 15 minutes I noticed my neighbor’s German shepherd beneath my dining room table. Neither Mel nor I thought much about the dog. I was sitting on the floor across from Mel, when out of nowhere and for no reasons (that I know of) I was attacked from behind. What I can remember is seeing the room spinning around. The dog had my head in his massive mouth and was flinging me around like a rag doll. I vaguely remember hearing yells and seeing what looked like a red & white loveseat. Then I could no longer see anything but could hear my mother’s screams. I don’t remember crying or screaming out, yet, I’m told I cried out for her to help me. I was later told that Mel stabbed the dog seven times but that it still took about 14 minutes before the dog finally released me.

Next thing I remembered was being tossed into the backseat of the car. It was a blessing we lived less than a mile from the hospital. I don’t remember anything after that, until I was screaming and tearing at something that was on my head. I didn’t know what it was only that it was hurting me. I thought it was the dog, but, it wasn’t. It was the football size bandages on my head. The doctors had kept me heavily sedated for nearly three weeks before they decided to lessen my medication. My Mom told me that I was kept restrained the entire three weeks. I was six years old when I was attacked. I had six major reconstructive surgeries and 11 hair transplants with over 247,000 sutures, total. My last surgery was at 16 years of age, ten full years after the attack.

Gary: Even with Sherry pointing out barely perceptible scars, you would never know by looking at her that she was so viciously attacked and torn apart. She is not merely beautiful…she is gorgeous beyond belief.

Fluther's AvatarGary – Like your Fluther profile says, you recently took a 7 month hiatus to do certain physical projects before it gets harder. Will you fill us in on what you have been up to?

whatthefluther's Avatar My computer crashing was the initial reason and I have a little trouble typing on my iPhone. I took my time replacing my computer and among a few other things, completely rearranged my “playroom” which is now outfitted with a mini-fridge, microwave and toaster oven, a Keurig (k-cup) coffee maker and the best audio system I’ve ever had in my life (@sndfreq would give a thumbs up, I believe).

Fluther's AvatarHow is wedding planning coming along? Will it be a traditional wedding (with a bride’s gown) or something a little more informal?

sccrowell's AvatarIt will be an informal civil ceremony on June 19th. The virtual ceremony and reception however are in epic proportions and fit for a king and queen. We’re blessed with many magnificent Fluther friends.

Fluther's AvatarIf you could give one advice (each) to us, what would it be?

whatthefluther's AvatarGary: Don’t take anything for granted and never stop counting your blessings.

Sherry: Always carry a spare pair of Leggs pantyhouse in your car. The racing brothers Rick and Roger Mears told me that one. The pantyhouse will actually work very well as a short term emergency replacement for any of your engine belts. I know from experience it works…a pair actually saved my ass once.

Fluther's AvatarWatch out for Part 2 of the Interview on the wedding day itself.