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I assure you, though, there is nothing trite about coming down with Guillain-Barrè syndrome. For the person hit by it, it's war and revolution wrapped in one: A catastrophe, an upheaval, a devastating blow.

But also an invaluable experience and a possibility for renewal.

I wouldn't be what I am now, a man at peace with himself and the world, had I not come down with, and fought back from, this terrible ailment. But I don't want to sound excessive. It isn't terminal cancer at young age, or trauma-induced coma and vegetative state; but, as Joseph Heller said, it's no laughing matter, either. The blessing about Guillain-Barrè syndrome-and I mean that with only a little bit of irony-is that it doesn't affect the gray matter upstairs. You know it's bad, but you also know it can be defeated, and the struggle to overcome it lends a tremendous meaning of truthfulness to the old saying: "That which does not kill you " You know the rest. It can paralyze you completely, and, occasionally, do you in, but the road back or, as I imply in my title, the uphill struggle from the abyss is Herculean and character forming.

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