But it is then this other me pushes forward, this me who knows he isn't quite normal, the guy who walks with a stick. The other me, or is it the newer me, doesn't walk as fast or as far, doesn't do anything with speed at all. He drops things...a lot, and he spills and makes messes. Who does this clown think he is, anyway?
Has there been progression? Yes, there has, although I hate calling it progression. Progression seems to imply progress. This is more like regression. My walking is regressing back to the unsteadiness of my toddler time when I first learned the skill. I need the stick to keep me on course, or I wander off in odd tangents to my left or right. However, I am like a Weeble, I wobble but I don't fall down. May the Lord keep me upright, because like the toddler of days long past, if I go down, I don't get up so easily.
I went to clinic at Thomas Jefferson Hospital last month. I do this every three months. The worst part of the whole affair is the drive into Philadelphia. It probably shouldn't be. I worked in Philly twenty of my early adult years, went to college there and lived in University City for a few years. I know the streets and their ways, and have driven them many times, but I suppose age is creeping over my nerves and I shutter now when I think about that drive.
Anyway, clinic is an interesting time. I go and watch the parade. Doctors and nurses and dietitians and nutritionists and psychiatrists and social workers and physical therapists and occupational therapists and speech therapists and other specialists come calling upon me throughout the day. I'm not under any real treatment because no actual treatment for ALS exists. These people take my vitals, tap and twist my body, ask me questions, give me some breathing tests, watch me walk and how my gait is changing, then give me advice on all things I might try. My last clinic lasted 4 hours. It is thorough. These are caring people looking after me and I appreciate them very much for doing what they do.
I have been sent a respirator and I am trying to use it more. It is a pain because you have to clean the mask and tube and filter every week. This is not hard to do, just a bit annoying. They brought me a nose
I was sent some exercises, but am a failure in habitually performing them. They are kind of boring. I miss my old regiment of rowing and using the machines at the Senior Center. I also have this odd tube I should breathe through twice a day for 15 minutes each. I keep forgetting to pop it in my mouth. Besides, it scares the cats.
They got me a leg brace called a toe lift. This is to keep my right foot toes from catching and tripping me. I really haven't had that kind of problem yet and the I can't drive with the brace. I would always be putting it on and off every time I go out and it is somewhat difficult to force into my shoe. I have yet to use it. I have also turned down the few medications they have prescribed. Most are for things that haven't grown to interference yet, like drooling. I am generating more saliva now, but mostly it only causes the edges of my lips to feel overly and constantly moist.
They had prescribed Riluzole and I began taking it after the January clinic. I stopped before the April clinic. It doesn't cure anything, but it is supposed to slow the progression. However, I was getting bad stomach upset at night, which was keeping me awake. I wondered if the medication was the culprit, so I ceased taking it and sure enough after a day there was no more of the stomach problems. I haven't tried it again. It says it might extend survival by two to three months. Are you serious? Two to three months more to live, why bother? Think about the end game to this disease and ask do you want two or three more months of it? I don't want to torture myself with a roiling stomach just to gain a couple months of living in paralysis.
They also said I should be walking with a stick even when moving about the house. I haven't gone to that yet either. I am not tripping or falling on my short shuffles through my rooms.
It is difficult to dress, but not to a point I need help doing it. Socks remain the hardest. Tying my shoes is a challenge. Getting my pants or shorts on to my legs is also an adventure, something of a comedy routine.
They worry about my weight, not that I am too fat, but that I am too thin. When the nutritionist and
The dietician told me I need to keep gaining weight. I should be eating cake and candy, ice cream and milk shakes. I shouldn't skip any snacks. I needed to quaff down a lot of high calorie food. I turned to the nutritionist and asked, "Are you sure she's a doctor?" I never had a doctor give me that advice. It has always been the opposite."
But now they are these bizarre pipes. I could pass for a living skeleton.
Last week I considered my life now. This disease is untreatable, incurable, progressive and ultimately fatal. Since is it untreatable, why do I feel I am being treated? I decided I wanted to live out my life doing the things I enjoyed doing, my walks and my writing anyway. I had been told not to push myself on the walks, but I can't help myself. I had been making it between one and two miles, but I started going a bit further each day and this last week I believe I got up to about 4 miles. Fine, I probably should have left it at my morning cleaning chores and my walk, but I trimmed a bunch of bushes and then I mowed the back yard. Good golly, Miss Molly, the grass was a foot high, it had to go. I did some other things.
I am a lousy patient, I know. There is a movie I enjoyed called, "The Straight Story". It is the true tale of one Earl Straight who became determined to visit his brother. Problem was he lived in Iowa and his brother lived in Wisconsin and Earl wasn't allow to drive any more. He made the trip on a riding mower. Along the way there was a nice man who offered him a lift, but Straight wanted to finish what he had started.
He told the guy, "You're a kind man talking to a stubborn man."
That's how I feel about all this advice I have been given. You all are kind people talking to a stubborn man."
Now we'll see where the next three months take me.