Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine


Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine

The Great Big Why

Susan Schreer Davis, contributing writer and Voice of Hope for the mito community and all those seeking inspiration in their day-to-day lives. Follow along each week at, and on social media.

The nurse sounded as uninterested as my sister at a football game, “You need the results of a recent EMG?”


“From last week?”


“The results are normal.”

With that, all hopes of a concrete answer sank into the dark abyss of why.

For over a decade, medical professionals have offered opinions on my health. A prominent local neurologist once watched me struggle to walk and said, “You have spasticity. You need to take baclofen.”

He wrote the prescription and I’ve taken it ever since.

But at least two other neurologists have since stated, “You don’t have spasticity and I don’t know why you’re on baclofen.” And their skepticism has left me feeling crazy.

But last week I stood firm… well, almost.

Shortly after the Emory doc asserted she had no neurological understanding as to why my legs grow weak, I asked, “Do you think it’s in my head?”

“I don’t know,” she candidly replied.

I sat for a moment and then said, “It’s not in my head.”

Did I convince her? Who knows.

While I tried to stay positive, right before I reached home, a tsunami of doubt crashed over the truths that normally ground my soul. There, on the edge of darkness, I mentally wailed, “Why do I have an illness with a name few respect or understand? After ten years of choosing hope when my legs, arms, mouth, and eyes grow weak, why can’t I have a viable diagnosis so doctors won’t think it’s in my head?”

I didn’t ask, “Why did my husband die?” Or “Why am I sick?” Or “Why does my child have to go through this too?”

I just wanted a relatable name.

As thoughts careened, the name, Raoul Wallenberg, surfaced from the depths. I’d heard about him the night before, when a local Holocaust survivor shared how his family survived, in part, due to the efforts of Mr. Wallenberg.

The Swedish diplomat saved thousands of Jews during the Nazi occupation of Budapest. But when the Red Army liberated Hungary, they arrested him along with other Nazi criminals and transported him to a Russian prison where he was tortured and later died.

The broken man sat in squalor, and probably wondered why? Why was he punished for doing the right thing?

I don’t know.

But imagining his plight led me to others, which in time, turned my why questions on their head. And I found myself asking, “Why do I get to live with heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer? Why do I get to enjoy running water and plentiful groceries?

No longer lost in the negative, I became grounded in the blessings that are mine. My emotions wobbled again after the nurse told me the EMG results were normal. But by then I knew which why questions to ask. And one by one, they carry me back to hope.

About the Author: Susan Schreer Davis lives with her husband, their cat named, Eggs, and the challenging effects ofmitochondrial disease. Learn more about Susan, her latest book and many songs at:

Billy Pasco

Click here to catch up on Susan’s posts!

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