A Day With ALS

I’m feeling inspired by writer and ALS advocate Sarah Coglianese’s response to the question, “What do you do all day?” The breakdown of her day made me realize that how I live now is incredibly foreign to the healthy people reading my blog. I have shared what Virginia Woolf called “moments of being”, micro-stories that I hope give you a sense of how it feels to walk in my shoes. However, I have yet to hand you the structure of my days . Here is a rough schedule for my average, exhausting, rewarding day.

Morning:

  • Showering with the help of a professional bath aide
  • Getting dressed
  • Putting on foot braces to stem foot drop
  • Taking regular medicine and trial medication
  • Eating breakfast if I have an appetite

Afternoon:

  • Taking medicine
  • Eating lunch
  • Breath Stacking
  • Physical therapy (PT)
  • Appointments or correspondence regarding medication
  • Planning fundraising events

Evening:

  • Taking trial medication
  • Breath Stacking
  • Preparing dinner
  • Eating dinner with my husband and sister, in-laws, and friends

Night:

  • Taking medicine
  • Hygiene tasks
  • Changing into pajamas
  • Writing in bed while not a creature is stirring, not even a dachshund.

Every day is a roller coaster at a shoddy carnival. Every day I have to choose again and again to feel the joy of the summits rather than the stomach-clenching pain of the drops. I feel a sense of accomplishment on many fronts, so I push myself to bask in that satisfaction. I have maintained fewer old friendships than I had hoped, but I am glad to spend time with new friends. I’m fighting isolation, and I am proud.

Sometimes, though, the valleys of this poorly maintained ride are dark and lonely. The rails rattle in a disturbing way, but I am helpless to do anything about it. I may vomit trying to eat because my appetite is so poor. Depending how stiff I am, PT can be frustrating. I often get worn out well before dinner time, which causes the quality of my speech to degrade. I also need help with almost every single task, so I am never, ever alone. This lack of privacy is emotionally exhausting beyond what I, a true extrovert, thought possible.

Yet I am starting to learn how to manage the roller coaster, figuring out when to grasp the shoulder harness until my nails crack and when to let go, throw my hands in the air, and shout in joy. ALS is a wild, deadly ride, but not one that will break me – whether or not l survive – because I know to reach for the sun whenever I’m hurtled towards it.

The Waves

2 thoughts on “A Day With ALS

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