I heard someone say that ALS – Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a puzzle, and that couldn’t be more true but there are so many layers to it that it’s difficult to describe it with words alone. Here is my brief attempt.
Recently I have been thinking of how to relate this disease to those who don’t have it. It’s not my favorite thing to do because the person I am doesn’t want to acknowledge ALS. I see it as giving credit to something that I still don’t believe I have. After all, doctors don’t really know what ALS is. It’s a label for a common set of symptoms and the cause is a complete mystery.
I compare what I’m going through to a tree battling the effects of autumn. A tree doesn’t lose its leaves all at once. Similarly, it’s taken almost five years to get where I currently am. Each leaf is a small part of me, a task that becomes more difficult or a strange new emotion, that is gently lost. The change is so subtle, and so not profound, it’s as if its not happening in real life.
Long after the first signs, and after numerous mental and physical battles, comes a stage where many leaves have been shed. If you were to hold a mirror to a tree in the middle of summer it might see how green, healthy, and full of life it is. Now, however, in the middle of fall, that mirror shows a tree whose colors are faded. It’s leaves are half gone, and the tree would not recognize itself compared to the peak of summer. ALS is strikingly similar. I remember who I was, yet that picture did not represent how my body operated. It’s a time of internal discontent, and every little problem is greatly magnified.
Deep into autumn comes the last phase I’m aware of. Imagine the tree has lost most of its leaves, has accepted that it’s not in mid summer form, and prepares for what seems to be a bleak winter. The emotional roller coaster has stopped and some form of placation sets in as there are few leaves left to lose. Because the tree has given into winter, the notion of spring seems impossible. Even if there are the beginnings of a new leaf, or resurgence of life in a limb, the tree is so conditioned to losing that it may go unnoticed. Spring becomes unattainable.
I’m lucky though. I have so many people in my life that remind me that while that tree may not look like it once did, the roots are DEEP and STRONG. That’s what people like those in Dawg Nation, my family, and friends do for me. You remind me to fight the autumn and remember that spring is possible.
I can’t emphasize how important it is to have these people in my life. I can’t stress how much you mean to me. From the fundraising done by Dawg Nation, I am a lot more comfortable getting what I need. The support I’ve received from not only my friends and family, but from new friends I met through Dawg Nation has made the difference. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support, for reminding me of who I am, and for inspiring me to be better.