ALS: It can happen to you

April 11, 2014

I have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Did you know there are 30,000 people in this country affected by this incurable, untreatable, and deadly disease? The main age for ALS is between 50 and 70, but there are young people who also get it. The famous physicist Stephen Hawking got it at a very young age.

I was very active. I played basketball, water-skied, rode bicycles, went for walks with my wife, and I even had a motorcycle. The first thing I remember experiencing was that I couldn’t cut my fingernails — my hands just weren’t strong enough to squeeze the clipper. I thought, “What the heck? What is this about?”

I started doing research and found out weakness is one of the symptoms of ALS, and unfortunately this was what I was eventually diagnosed with. It effects people in different ways, but some start by losing their ability to walk, and some lose their ability to talk and eat. I started getting weaker and weaker, and my diaphragm was especially affected. It was two years ago when I was diagnosed, and now I’m on a ventilator and in a power wheel chair.

I’ve become completely dependent on help from my wife, two sons, and daughter. They have to help me all the time. I’m thankful I can still eat though, because many people at this stage cannot. There’s just no way of telling how it’s going to affect people.

Doctors give most people three to five years to live with ALS. Some live a long time, but some die much quicker. This disease can happen to anybody. There are organizations that are trying to find a cure, but they need resources. So encourage people to find out more about ALS and support research to find a cure!

Tim Kahle, Pandora