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.