For the last 40 years, I have seen therapies come, flourish and then decline. Some stay longer than others do and a few become accepted as making a genuine contribution to the well being of people with disabilities.

I've had the idea behind this story in my mind for a while but what prompted me to write it down was taking part in an Internet newsgroup discussion.

I'm sorry if it offends...

On Pink Bananas

By Andy Berry

Have you heard about the latest therapy? It's all the rage in USK, I've heard that it really helps. It didn't help me, as you'll see.

All you do is eat pink bananas. Apparently, there's a chemical in them, called something unpronouncible, that helps you overcome something that you never thought was wrong.

A small problem - pink bananas don't exist.

Never mind. Someone, who I met in my local supermarket but who had it on good authority from a parent of a boy with KRS (I think that's what she said), said that green ones are nearly as good.

So, despite hating fruit, I started eating them. In fact, if a little of something is good for you, I thought, why not just eat bananas? Now, a diet of green bananas has some interesting side effects but, never mind, I convinced myself that they were doing me some good.

Two weeks later, a friend saw me. She said I looked terrible. She asked why I hadn't been out or exercising and I said that I didn't have any energy. I said that I was sure that the green bananas were helping. Unfortunately, she's a bit of a scientist and said, "OK prove it". "It's early days yet," I replied. She just gave me a look.

Then, I had great news.

Apparently, someone in USK had discovered a source of black bananas. Now, as you well know, black bananas don't travel too well. A trip to USK was the answer. So, I put my house up for sale and off I went.

A bit of an anti-climax. Black bananas are just ordinary bananas that have been left outside (Why didn't I realise this, I now ask myself?) And, they charged $50 each and I had no friends, no support. No, I didn't enjoy it at all. Oh, and I picked up a nasty infection along the way.

So, back home.

I'm not defeated, I thought. I'll do some research. I found a journal called "Bananas and Health" and spent weeks reading about all the wonderful things you can do with bananas. Did you know that banana leaves are good for snakebites? Really useful information, that is, in the middle of a city in UKS.

Then, I found it. An advert by a drug company for Red Banana juice. They said that it had been tested on five people and two had shown "limited neo-functional improvement". Luckily, my doctor had just had a mailshot from them and readily agreed to prescribe a course. Well, I didn't know that he was being paid to take part in a trial, did I?

Taking the stuff was interesting. You had to measure out precisely 1.05 millilitres of this revolting bright red liquid every three and half-hours. Now, that's difficult for me. The only way I could manage that was to stay at home. Still, it's doing me some good.

A couple of months later.

I started noticing red blotches on my skin. I went back to the doctor and he said that it was a known side effect of RedBan (the drug company's natty new name for the juice). He asked me to tell him whether I'd noticed any differences in what I could do and I thought for a long time. "Well," I said "I used to be able to do my shoelaces up but now I can't".

Then, things took a dramatic turn... A circular letter announcing that long-term use of RedBan was dangerous was sent to all doctors. You didn't hear about this? I'm not surprised - not all drug withdrawals make the papers.

So, was that the end of my search for pink bananas?

No. I read an article in the Sunday Scoop about a lady who used bananas in aromatherapy. She said that it helped focus the mind energy on "overcoming the suffering of these poor brave creatures". Nice idea, shame about the language.

I thought that's too far out even for a child of the 60's. Trying to get pink bananas to eat is fine, but smelling bananas - no way.

I then nearly gave up and went back to living my life but then I heard (I forget exactly how) about how banana skins made good wheelchair seat covers. Fine in winter but, I can tell you, the flies in summers were terrible. The funny thing is, I'd forgotten about pink bananas by then - any banana would do.

Five years later...

I look back on my search for pink bananas with amusement. Did I really believe that all my problems would be solved if only I found a pink banana? I suppose I must have.

Now, I enjoy an occasional banana (the ordinary, yellow ones) and I have a full life. I've stopped concentrating on one aspect of myself (my disability) and enjoy what I can do.

Sure, sometimes I still wish that pink bananas existed. Some day, for some disabilities, I'm sure they will...

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