The Power of the Bucket List

5

The approval of Radicava, the first medicine for ALS in 22 years, had me reconsidering my post that labels my belief that I will survive this disease “wild.” Then, the vessel of  my most precious dream was wrecked on jagged rocks I never saw coming.

The federal budget for 2018 calls for the complete defunding of the National ALS Registry, and the shock of learning that my own government would so callously undercut one of the most important parts of the search for a cure left me – and I imagine many others – frightened and enraged. The budget also cut funding to Medicaid and SSDI (social security disability insurance), a fact that barely sunk in. I just didn’t know how to process the realization that the registry was in danger, and Medicaid was as well. Medicaid covers machines, medication, feeding tube supplies, caregiver fees, and so much more that we could never be able to afford on our own. On top of that, if we lost the $600 per month we receive through SSDI, how would we afford the expenses Medicaid doesn’t cover, like my daily injections of B12?

I chose to focus on saving the National ALS Registry155 a campaign I am continuing to expand. Narrowing my focus and taking action gave me a chance to salvage some of my former optimism.

Then came the second hit: a health care bill drafted in the dark that slashed Medicaid so deeply that 14 million of the most expensive beneficiaries – including the ALS community – would lose coverage and very likely their lives. My joy over Radicava seemed distant, even foolish. What good is this new treatment if we can’t afford it because our insurance has been gutted or taken away? Obstacles were coming from all sides. Rising tides of depression and fear threatened to drown me. They still do.

I had to find a path back to joy and hope in the midst of the battles I had been forced to join. Enter my inspiring friend Glynis, who made a bucket list with her husband Vince after he was diagnosed with ALS. The list helped them focus on enjoying the present, no matter how hard it got, and gave them things to look forward to. I decided to follow her example, and I came up with a list that includes both things I can accomplish despite my disease and other dreams I look forward to achieving after I am cured. Now, I have something new to think about as I try to fall asleep and worry creeps in. Have a peek at the list. What would you add to your own?

Save Medicaid from Being Slashed!

The health care bill draft currently being reviewed by the Senate slashes Medicaid to the bone. If the bill is passed, 14 million of the most expensive beneficiaries – particularly, the elderly and disabled, including those suffering from ALS – will be kicked off Medicaid! Use the following text to write to or call your representatives and let them know that you expect them to oppose this health care bill (contact information here138). We must act quickly since senator Mitch McConnell intends to have the Senate vote by JUNE 30th!

The Honorable [NAME]
United States House of Representatives (or: United States Senate)
United States Capitol
Washington, DC

Dear Representative (or: Senator) [NAME]:

I am writing to ask for your help to ensure that people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease have the coverage and health care they need and deserve. If passed, the Better Care Reconciliation Act will seriously impact the lives of people suffering from ALS and their families. In fact, it may even be a death sentence since many will be kicked off Medicaid.

The cost of living with ALS is staggering. Depending on the level of care a person needs, expenses can reach $250,000 per year. If patients are left with the burden of paying all the costs that Medicaid currently covers, these people will go without the feeding tube surgery and supplies that prevent them from starving to death. They will lack the medicine that relieves their tremendous pain. They will not be able to afford the caregivers who help them with toileting, medication, tube feedings, bathing, and monitoring vital machines such as ventilators. Most cruel of all, thousands will face the decision to go on a ventilator, or forgo the life-saving procedure in order to avoid bankrupting their families. In short, thousands of Americans with ALS will lose their dignity and their lives an agonizing death if they are deprived of Medicaid. (Optional: insert personal story of the impact of ALS on your life).

This is a matter of life and death, not politics. This health care bill is inhumane. I know there are a number of initiatives and programs under review. However, I think, and I hope you do as well, that Medicaid, which saves the lives of countless citizens, must be preserved and well-funded.

As a resident of (STATE), I hope that I can count on your support and look forward to watching closely as the health care bill moves through the legislative process.

(Optional) If you need more information on the impact of ALS on the people in our state, please don’t hesitate to contact the ALS Association of (STATE ORGANIZATION) at: (insert chapter website).

Sincerely,

Your Name

Help Launch Phase 2 of the “Save the National ALS Registry Campaign”!

3

WANTED! I am looking for people with experience canvassing for petition signatures. Phase 2 of my “Save the National ALS Registry Campaign” is to create and publish a guide that allows citizens to reach out to their neighbors and get signatures to send to representatives along with a letter explaining why we need them to oppose trump’s budget as long as it includes completely defunding the National ALS Registry.

Even if you don’t have experience, message me if you are willing to help do some research on how to support and mobilize advocates who are ready to pound the pavement!

Remember, this is NOT a partisan issue. You can love Trump and still advocate for the ALS community! #ALSaware #DefeatALS #NationalALSRegistry

Pacing Myself

3

I have always struggled to acknowledge and accept my limitations to the point that I often push myself far past them. From middle school through college, I participated in at least three extracurricular activities each year. OK, that’s a lie. It was more like four or five. I was in a leadership position as often as possible, too. Of course, that all came on top of a driving need to get straight A’s (and yes, I know that is a misplaced apostrophe, but I stand by it as a legitimate way to make a letter grade plural).

Latin

In high school, I was president of Latin Club. In this photo my dad and I are on a Latin Club field trip.

My first year teaching, I started the middle school book club, served on the information technology curriculum committee, proposed and planned an interdisciplinary curriculum fellowship and a fellowship to rework the English curriculum to include multicultural literature.

I love being busy, operating at full speed, running out of room in my planner, making multiple to-do lists and slashing through each item before falling into bed exhausted.

Now, though, at least half the days of the week, just functioning leaves me too tired to do anything productive. ALS puts such a strain on the body that simply existing is like running a marathon every day. Three years into this nightmare, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I can’t set the same amount of goals for myself as I used to. Doing that sets me up for depression, frustration, and failure. If I want to preserve my mental health and use my time well, I have to learn to prioritize and decide where to scale back. I’ve got to stop spreading myself too thin. Thus, without further ado, my freshly pruned list of goals:

1. Enact Phase 2 of my “Save the Registry” campaign (you didn’t really think I would stop at an article and blog post, did you?)

2. Fundraise for The Walk to Defeat ALS

3. Write one essay or section per week for my book on living with ALS

What I expect to sacrifice to accomplish all of this is the frequency of my blog posts and social media updates. Rather than posting every few days, I think it will only be manageable to post once every 1.5 weeks. I consider this a loss since connecting with readers is such a source of joy for me. However, I am hopeful that after I torpedo Trump’s attempt to defund the National ALS Registry and complete my fundraising efforts at the end of September, I will be able to write for my blog weekly. Getting my muscle spasms under control would also be a big help since I wouldn’t spend half the week sedated by Baclofen and Vicodin. The plan right now is to increase the amount quinine sulfate I take and undergo a test to see if installing a pump to push Baclofen directly into my spinal fluid would eliminate the spasms. The pump should increase the effectiveness of the Baclofen while diminishing the sedating side effects. I will definitely keep you posted on that.

For now, I will conclude by thanking you for your support of my writing, my health, and my dream of a world without ALS. I’ll write again soon(ish)!

“Extraordinary” Collaboration Brings Together Project MinE, Answer ALS and the New York Genome Center

3

9

Here’s something to smile about! A big thank you to #TheALSAssociation for facilitating and helping fund this collaboration and countless other invaluable partnerships. In the shadow of Trump’s attempt to defund the National ALS Registry, witnessing The ALS Association’s commitment to streamlining research efforts to push us ever closer to a cure is truly heartening!

PS I know you are wondering how The ALS Association is able to fund so much research. It is possible because of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is coming up in August. Get ready to get wet!

The Official Blog of The ALS Association

The ALS Association is proud to announce three large research organizations — Project MinE USA, Answer ALS and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) — will be working collaboratively toward their mission for treatments and a cure for ALS. These global collaborative projects, supported by The ALS Association through ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, will share genome sequencing information and research expertise to move efforts forward more rapidly and efficiently. Read more to learn about how global partnerships advance ALS research.

View original post 575 more words

Contact Your Representatives to Save the National ALS Registry!

3

3

8

The National ALS Registry is in danger of being defunded! Use the following text to write to or call your representatives and let them know that you expect them to oppose this atrocious proposal (contact information here148).

The Honorable [NAME]
United States House of Representatives (or: United States Senate)
United States Capitol
Washington, DC

Dear Representative (or: Senator) [NAME]:

I am writing to ask your help to ensure that federal funding is preserved to help people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. If fully enacted, the recent budget proposed by the president will seriously impact the lives of people suffering from ALS and their families. In fact, it may even be a death sentence. According to a joint statement from The ALS Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Les Turner ALS Foundation, “The Administration’s budget proposal, if enacted, would eliminate the opportunity for people living with ALS to directly connect with a wide range of clinical trials and epidemiological studies.”

Specifically, the president’s budget calls for complete defunding of the National ALS Registry, one of the greatest sources of finding a cure. This is a matter of life and death, not politics. This budget proposal is not only mean spirited and hurtful; it will also dramatically roll back the progress that had been made in the past few years to find a cure.

I know there are a number of serious budget issues under review. However, I think, and I hope you do as well, that those that directly impact the lives of our citizens should be preserved and fully funded. (Optional: Insert personal story of the impact of ALS on your life).

As a resident of (STATE), I hope that I can count on your support and look forward to watching closely as the president’s budget moves through the legislative process.

(Optional) If you need more information on the impact of ALS on the people in our state, please don’t hesitate to contact the ALS Association of (STATE ORGANIZATION) at: (insert chapter website).

Sincerely,

Your Name

Concerns About President Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts

Trump’s new budget proposal calls for complete defunding of the ALS Registry, which will dramatically slow the research that I and thousands of other people with ALS are counting on to save our lives! This is a matter of life and death, not politics. My survival is not a partisan issue. I beg you to call or write to your representatives to let them know that this budget is unacceptable as long as it includes a call to defund the ALS Registry, one of our greatest sources of hope for a cure.

The Official Blog of The ALS Association

Last week, President Trump submitted his budget request to Congress. Included in the proposal are changes to funding for Medicaid, cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the complete defunding of the National ALS Registry at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The ALS Association is very concerned that these proposals will negatively impact people affected by ALS and will slow down the progress we have made in research for treatments and a cure. We do not believe this is a partisan issue – Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about the cuts contained in the President’s budget.

View original post 324 more words