Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Six Steps Toward Recovering from ALS: Spiritual Healing, Alternative Healing, Diet, and More

There are 6 key areas of practice to which I attribute the turn around I have achieved and sustained in the last 3 1/2 years.

1. Detox, Detox, Detox....! Although no one knows for sure exactly what causes ALS, many suspect that toxicity is involved. These suspicions include mercury poisoning, chemical exposures, viral infections and other toxins as contributors to the development of ALS. Given our constant exposure to pollutants in our air, water, food and even household cleaning products, it is worth taking precautions even if you are not ill. For those of us with a serious illness, however, it is critical. In addition to avoiding exposure to toxins, I also practice regular detoxification through diet and supplements.

2. Among the most significant impacts I have experienced on my health is the link between diet and ALS. Since changing my diet to one of primarily raw fruits and vegetables, I have benefited from amazing improvements in skin quality, weight gain, energy and more. I would highly recommend 2 books: The Vegetarian Guide to Diet and Salad, by Dr. Norman Walker and The 80/10/10 Diet, by Dr. Douglas Graham. Eating this way has made the most dramatic difference of anything that I have done for my energy level and my strength. I also use a few dietary supplements, which change from time to time, based on the results of hair analysis and other laboratory tests as needed. My partner and guide in the use of supplements is Dr. Kathleen Akin:

3. Exercise has been a key to preserving my strength and mobility, and to the avoidance or elimination of pain. My program includes range of motion exercises and light aerobic exercise, facilitated by equipment to compensate for my paralysis.

4. I have found various sorts of spiritual healing to be very helpful. Two approaches that have worked for me are the "Healing Codes" (, and the healing process described in The Journey by Brandon Bays. You can learn more about it at: Affirmations, prayer and meditation are also regular parts of my alternative healing regimen. These latter practices have a lot to do with maintaining a positive focus, which is quite possibly, in my experience, the most important element in recovering from an illness or dealing with other life challenges.

5. One of the greatest leaps of faith that I have practiced is the use of a healer. I am hard pressed to explain how Jose looks into my body each day over the phone and finds things to eliminate or repair, but he has helped me to improve aspects of my breathing, reduce problems with itching, reverse losses in strength, and minimized problems with swallowing.

6. Finally there is the use of acupuncture, which I have been practicing for several years. It has had its ups and downs, but I believe that it is helping. After each session, my body experiences a marked increase in strength. The doctor and I continue to search for a way to build and sustain that strength.

While these practices have not yet produced the improvements in breathing, speech clarity, and mobility that I seek, the progression of the disease appears to be contained, and I look forward to further improvements.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Evidence of Progress in Recovering from ALS

The list of techniques and remedies I have tried over the past 8 years is enormous. That is one of the reasons I wrote From Nightmares to Miracles. A person afflicted with a medically incurable illness can burn through a considerable amount of time, money, and energy trying to find alternative approaches that work. These are three vital resources that most people with ALS (PALS) don’t have in abundant supply. In the book, I discuss dozens of approaches including herbal remedies, vitamins, homeopathic treatment, electronic and frequency devices, spiritual healing techniques, exercise, diet, and more. I explain what worked for me, what didn’t, how I arrived at my current protocol, and why I believe that what I have learned has implications far beyond recoverin from ALS. While the same approach may not work for everyone, I believe there are elements of the practices I follow that have universal application.

It would probably help to alleviate some healthy skepticism by providing some evidence for my claims. So, let me give you some. Late 2006, was a huge turning point for me. My weight had dropped to a mere 99 lbs. This was barely more than half of my pre-ALS weight. My fairly athletic, 5’11’’ frame typically weighed in at about 185 lbs. prior to onset of the disease. By the end of 2006, my 99 lb., wheelchair- bound presence resembled that of someone who had barely survived Auschwitz. Every rib in my torso protruded though my skin. My arms had grown so weak that they required rest after two hours of moving a computer mouse. My skin was pale and dry, requiring lotion on a daily basis to avoid breakdown. Fatigue made afternoon naps necessary to get through the day. Restlessness in my legs from poor circulation made sleeping for more than two hours at a time a rare occurrence. Chronic joint and muscle stiffness and cramping interfered with sleep, and caused excruciating pain when being lifted out of bed in the morning.

Today, I weigh 138 lbs. Health practitioners are constantly amazed by the color and tone quality of my skin, and the complete absence of bed sores. Waking up during the night rarely occurs more than once to relieve my bladder. I rarely need a nap, and typically spend five to six hours a day at the computer, stopping for other activities vs. fatigue. Chronic pain is absent from my life.

All of the health care practitioners who see me on a regular basis find these changes astounding. Weight gain for someone in the advanced stages of ALS is extremely rare, as are the absence of bed sores for someone bound to a wheelchair. It is also quite common for someone with ALS or any life-threatening illness to suffer bouts of depression. I can assure you that my current state of mind is anything but depressed.

So by now, I would hope that this information has raised interest in your minds about how these changes have been achieved. In my next entry, I will begin to share what has worked for me in beating back the ravages of ALS, and handling life’s twists and turns with greater poise, patience, confidence and effectiveness. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Welcome to From Nightmares to Miracles– Surviving ALS and Other Overwhelming Challenges

My wife, Diane, and I have been taking walks together for years. We find it a wonderful way to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors, get some exercise, catch up on things, and just enjoy each others company. One beautiful spring day in April of 2000, Diane noticed that I was dragging the toes of my right foot during one of our walks. Over the next several weeks, I became increasingly conscious that the leg was feeling oddly sluggish during workouts, tennis and other activities. The thought that this could be the onset of symptoms for a fatal disease never entered my mind until two years later when a motor-neuron specialist revealed his tentative diagnosis after an initial exam and testing.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka ALS and Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a disease of unknown origin that attacks the spinal cord and motor neurons, causing paralysis and death, usually through asphyxiation when the diaphragm can no longer function. There is no known medical cure, and little effective treatment. ALS takes the lives of 90% of it’s victims within 2-5 years. Of those in the remaining 10%, there are PALS (persons with ALS) who have been known to live 10 to 20 years or more. Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist, is probably the most famous and longest living survivor. Dr. Hawking has been living with ALS for more than 40 years.

Why is it that so few live longer than five years? Are there any common factors among those that survive 10 years or longer? Unfortunately, there is no research to my knowledge that has pursued the answers to these questions. But I have some suspicions about the answers, based on what has worked for me.

Come this April, I will have been living with ALS for 10 years. During this time, I have explored an extensive array of non-traditional healing practices. The journey has taught me a great deal about ALS, myself, and handling adversity, and I want to share that knowledge. I have written a book called, From Nightmares to Miracles that documents my journey and what it has taught me. As a first time author, however, I am learning that getting published can be more of a challenge than writing the manuscript. So, while I am pursuing publication, I have started this blog to share what I have learned, with the added benefit that a blog allows me to continue my own learning through reader comments.

It is my hope that this blog will become a forum for sharing approaches to dealing and coping with overwhelming challenges. It is my hope that others can learn from my experience, and I from theirs. Your comments and stories are welcomed. Whether you are coping with an illness, a divorce, career derailment, death of a loved one, parenting crises, financial issues or other serious circumstances, this blog can be a place to share and explore what works to cope, survive and recover. Please help me make it a place where people can find hope, inspiration and ideas for dealing with their difficulties. Let’s create a space in which people can find ways to turn their nightmares into miracles.