Craig Kramer: Why I Walk

It’s been over a year now since I’ve been diagnosed with ALS. Has my life changed? Absolutely! And a huge chunk of it has changed for the better!  But it isn’t only about me; it’s all about family and friends—and it turns out there are lots of them!! Here are some of the wonderful life-changing things that have happened since my diagnosis, and some of them likely wouldn’t have occurred:

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Walk a Crooked Path: Make It Easy on Yourself

By Saundra Stewart

ALS is unique in that no two cases start exactly the same, and no two cases end exactly the same.  Don made some decisions early on in his illness (no feeding tube and no vent) that affected the way I cared for him.  Your situation will be different, but let me share what worked for us.

There’s so much involved in caring for an ALS patient that I often thought there just weren’t enough hours in the day to do it all and do it well.  So, I used everything I could to make my life easier.  Don made it easy, because he wasn’t afraid to try new things, if I thought it was worthwhile.  I kept my eyes and ears open for new gadgets or methods of operation that would lighten my work load, but still get the job done effectively.  Here are some of the things I found:

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Walk a Crooked Path: Talk About the Hard Things

By Saundra Stewart

It seems that life runs in seasons.  Ephesians 3:1-8 (KJV) says it this way:

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

We found these Bible verses to be very true in dealing with ALS.  If you pay attention, there’s a time for everything.  Sometimes you need to act quickly to take full advantage of the time offered to you.  That’s certainly the way it is when it comes to discussing the important things with your patient, be it a spouse, child, parent, or other loved one. 

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Walk a Crooked Path: The Big Bad Wolf and the Three Bears

By Saundra Stewart

Not so long ago in a land not so far away lived a brave, strong man and his white-haired wife.  They loved their little blue cottage on the hill.  They loved playing with their grandchildren, going for long bicycle rides, and camping – especially camping!

One day, life was going along much as normal, when there came a knock on the door.  When the brave, strong man went to answer, there on the porch stood a big, ugly, horrible wolf.  On the front of his sweatshirt were the letters “ALS.”  The man didn’t know what that meant, but he knew the creature was one of the ugliest things he had ever seen!  Right behind the wolf were three bears.  Big bears.  Scary bears.

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ALS Reflections from Outgoing Board Chair Dave Van de Riet

At the end of this month,  Dave Van de Riet will complete his term as chair of The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter’s Board of Directors. Over the past six and a half years, Dave’s leadership has been characterized by innovative ideas, strategic thinking and an overwhelming commitment to providing quality care to families facing an ALS diagnosis.  His energy and passion for the mission will be difficult to match, but he leaves us a better organization and on strong footing for the future.

Dave will continue to serve people with ALS and their families locally in his role as the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS® Chair; as a member of the fund development, finance and executive committees; and in a national capacity as vice chair of The ALS Association’s Governance Committee and member of the Board of Representatives.

Thank you Dave, for your extraordinary leadership and tireless dedication to our mission and the people we serve.

In this post, Dave reflects on his tenure as Board Chair.

Back in July of 2012, I was honored to become the board chairman of the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter.  I had no idea what kind of journey it would be.  Certainly, I had some idea of the responsibilities, the meetings and the commitment.  I had the pleasure of serving as Vice Chair while watching past Chair Rick Palank ably lead the Board and along with our President/CEO – Maureen Barber Hill – establish a very strong foundation for the stability and success of the Chapter.  What I didn’t know, however, was how much the job could change me.

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Living With ALS: Ken Danridge

Ken Danridge was just 56 years old when he was diagnosed with ALS. Married for 13 years to his wife Amy, Ken is the father of three young children – Blake, Maya and Addison. Ken also served in the U.S. Air force for nearly 20 years and was stationed in Oklahoma City during the terrorist bombing in 1995. With the muscles in his body progressively weakening, Ken now uses a motorized wheelchair to get around, a feeding tube to eat, and a ventilator to breathe. Despite the many limitations ALS has imposed on his once active lifestyle, Ken remains a beacon of positivity, intent on using his diagnosis to connect with others with the disease and influence and motivate the people around him. Below, Ken shares his philosophy on living with ALS.

Greetings, my name is Ken and I have ALS. I was officially diagnosed in March of 2017, but I had symptoms for about two years prior to the confirmation. I didn’t really think much about the periodic loss of fine motor skills in my left hand, but when I developed a dropped left foot I became concerned.

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Perspectives: On the True Gifts of Christmas

By Gregg Ratliff

Occasionally, Nancy and I would experience a rough emotional week. Most of the time when my dear wife displayed more tears than usual, I did not allow it to influence my own disposition. Some days she was able to communicate with her eyes and some days she was not. I remember one particular December day when she could move her eyes to communicate with me she told me that she was feeling “sad” and “depressed.” Of course, that broke my heart! On days like this I would vary our daily activities in an attempt to avoid the “routine” and pick up her spirits. For example, I would play audio book for her, downloaded some music and read to her more than usual, all of which seemed to help – some. The Christmas season was always Nancy’s favorite season and I suppose her inability to “experience Christmas” by shopping, having a “tea party” with her girlfriends, and just generally participating in the hustle and bustle of her favorite season affected her normally cheerful attitude. Nancy’s “love language” was gift giving.

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