I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. I want you to know that this is not a gambit to secure some sympathy or to beg for prayers or anything of that sort. It’s just that I have about 7,000 friends who visit this blog everyday and this is the best way to tell you all. You may remember that I spent a week with the wonderful doctors at Walter Reed last summer to figure out why my feet quit paying attention to me. It’s been going on for about three years now. They ran every test on every malady they could think of and they arrived at the same conclusion I’d guessed.
I have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a neurodegenerative disease of unknown cause that breaks down tissues in the nervous system and affects the nerves responsible for movement. Well, I say I “have” the disease, but there’s no real test to prove that’s what it is – the doctors have to eliminate everything else in order to arrive at that diagnosis.
The good news is that I’m still around – many people die from it in less than two years after the symptoms start appearing. So far, it’s only affected my feet and lower legs. Today, the doctors at the West Virginia ALS clinic tested my ability to breath (how most people die when the respiratory system doesn’t talk to the brain) is higher than they expected. The doctor said she’s going to put the test results on her fridge.
Luckily, my real job doesn’t require more than sitting at a computer, like this one, so as long as my hands work, I’m good. My hands show no signs of not working. I do have a problem doing math in my head and my vocabulary is slowly contracting, but there are computers for that I hear.
A few years back, the VA determined that ALS occurs in an abnormally high number of Gulf War veterans, but they don’t know why. I’m still in touch with many of my troops and they don’t show symptoms and I have no family history of the disease. Regardless, I’ve applied to the VA for disability through the Paralyzed Veterans of America and they seem to think that it’s an automatic 100% disability rating. So I guess I’m going to become an expert on the claims-filing process at the VA.
Like I said, I didn’t write this for any special treatment or to beg you for your prayers. I wrote it just because I think of you dickweeds as my friends (all of you lurkers I don’t know, too) and this blog is one of the few successful things I ever done. So, thank you for sticking by me with all of my trips to the doctors and for the shortfalls in the blogging in recent months.
By the way, mentally, I’m fine with this. There’s no one to blame, not even myself or the Army or Saddam Hussein or anyone else. It’s just stuff that happens.
I have a great family that sticks by me, great doctors who do everything they can, and you, my great friends. To borrow from Lou Gehrig in his good bye to the Yankees fans “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”, and I’m not going anywhere until God decides otherwise.
ADDED: By the way, my doctor has a patient who she’s been treating for 15 years. He takes his wheelchair out to his tractor, farms all day and then wheels himself back to the house. So you phony soldiers aren’t going to be getting rid of me anytime soon.