Facebook friends: Pastor Doug

November 22, 2009


(One in an occasional series where CCN readers meet some of my Facebook Friends)

These have been a tough few weeks for Doug Carroll of San Luis Obispo. He’s battled progressive MS for a decade now and has cheated death more than once. But the MS seems determined to have the last laugh, continuing to claim Doug’s body, inch by inch, muscle by muscle. Doug has slowed down considerably lately, often requiring massive energy for the simplest of tasks.

He all but gave up in early November, but like a scene out of that Frank Capra movie, Doug rallied after being reminded of how many friends he has, how much he means to so many people around town, the difference he’s been able to make. Still, his body is shutting down. He now needs binoculars, for example, just to read the programming guide on his TV. And Doug was recently hit by a car (again) trying to cross Broad Street one afternoon.

It is, I submit, a pretty remarkable story. One day, the former youth pastor is successfully climbing the face of Half Dome; then he’s told by a doctor that he has the worst form of MS possible. Just like that. Most people diagnosed with the progressive form of the disease live only a few years; Pastor Doug has lived ten. He knows he’s on borrowed time.

Doug has put the time to good use, despite having to use a wheelchair and enduring a constant whirlwind of doctor appointments, physical therapy, and hospital visits. He started frequent trips to Sacramento and Washington to lobby on behalf of MS patients and research. Closer to home, Doug has played a major role in organizing local MS fundraising events.

And up until the most recent flare up, Doug worked regularly as “Chef Doug,” teaching basic recipes to customers at the various Spencer’s grocery stores around the county – he makes a pretty mean chili. You can join his Facebook page and become a “Friend of Chef Doug.” He’s had to take some time off, but Doug plans on being back at Spencer’s as soon as possible.

That’s the essence of Pastor Doug. He has clearly alienated some in the local disabled community because he refuses to play to the stereotype. The MS claimed his body, but never his spirit. His well-known laugh, best described as sounding like a seal in heat, can be infectious. You learn not to feel sorry for Doug, only gratitude for having the chance to know him. I’ve got hundreds of Facebook Friends, but no one quite like Doug Carroll.

Some of Doug’s many friends are busy organizing a holiday celebration in his honor. Come by and meet Pastor Doug during a special Open House on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the conference room at KVEC radio, Suite #100, 51 Zaca Lane in San Luis Obispo.

“I was pretty down for awhile, but now I’m doing better,” Doug told me the other night. “It’s overwhelming to know so many people care about me.”

Happy Thanksgiving to my Facebook Friend, my good friend, Pastor Doug.  I certainly know what I’ll be thankful for this Thursday.