By Gregg Ratliff
Shortly after Nancy’s diagnosis of “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” I read on the ALSA website that “ALS is not just the patients disease, it is a family’s disease.” My care-giving perspective has allowed me to truly understand and validate this statement. Our family’s life changed dramatically over the seven years of Nancy’s illness. It strengthened some things, like our love, our resolve, our faith and our attitude control toward things we faced in life. I personally spend less time worrying and focusing on things I had no control over (which are most things in life). This provided me more time to focus on important and often overlooked things around me. My perspective changed tremendously. Joyce Meyer once said, “Your problem is not your problem. Your problem is your attitude toward your problem.” Marcus Aurelius said it this way, “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” So, anytime I began feeling sorry for myself I simply looked at my wife lying in the bed and said … “Gregg, you have no right to feel sorry for yourself. Be strong for her and yourself!” When I thought Nancy might be facing difficult times I would play music for her, read the Bible to her, pray for her, massage her feet and hands with lotion and remind her how much I loved and admired her.
Continue reading Perspectives: On Caregiving
LeBron James did it. Bill Gates did it. Oprah, Steven Spielberg and President George W. Bush did it. But the majority of people who took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 were not celebrities, just ordinary folks who got caught up in the fun of nominating friends and family on social media to be doused in water and ice for a good cause. It’s safe to say, however, that there was definitely another reason why the Ice Bucket Challenge gained traction. ALS is a relentless disease that takes away a person’s ability to move, walk, talk, and breathe on their own and keeps them trapped in their body. To watch someone you know go through this is absolutely devastating, and knowing that there is no cure can sometimes make people feel both helpless and hopeless. For the thousands of individuals affected by ALS, this painful reality was fuel for action that inspired a community of people to come together four years ago to create the original ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
What followed from this largest viral social media movement of all time was not just news feeds packed with ice bucket challenge videos, but real and meaningful impact for people with ALS – and for researchers searching for treatments and a cure. The effects of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continue to be felt in the ALS community.
Continue reading Every August Until a Cure
Our guest blogger this week is Christie Seidl, a massage therapy student from The Body Therapy Center and School of Massage in Swansea, Illinois. Christie will obtain her MBLEx certification this August, and currently has her ASCP MLT certification and an associates degree in laboratory science.
For people with ALS, muscle spasms are a common and sometimes painful occurrence. Spasms and cramps are characterized by a sudden, involuntary contraction of muscles, and are the result of the ongoing disruption of signals from the nerves to the muscles that occurs in ALS. There are four simple techniques you can use to help alleviate the pain and help stop the spasm.
Continue reading Techniques to Reduce Muscle Spasms
Today is the first post in a series on ALS caregiving by guest blogger, Idelle Winer. Idelle will be sharing her journey as an ALS caregiver and asking you to share yours as well.
Are you the caregiver of a loved one with ALS? Just as the journey of every ALS patient is unique, so are the experiences of family members and caregivers. My name is Idelle, and I would like to share my journey, beginning with how I learned that my husband Brian had ALS.
Continue reading Caregiver Confidential: Diagnosis and Denial
Nearly three years ago, on August 4th, a peculiar news item showed up on our social media feed at The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter. Someone had posted an article from Shape Magazine that described something called an “Ice Bucket Challenge,” where people across the country were dumping buckets of water on their heads and challenging three other people to do the same thing. It seemed like a fun, interesting way to raise awareness for ALS, so we shared it to our page and asked our Facebook fans, “Have any of you heard of this?” The rest of August became a blur of ice and water – it was incredible.
Continue reading The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: How It Helped and Why It Matters
An important part of our mission at the ALS Association is to advocate for changes in laws and regulations that affect thousands of people living with ALS and their families. ALS advocacy has resulted in policies that not only advance the search for treatments and a cure, but has also helped to ensure that people living with ALS have access to the healthcare they need and deserve to maintain a higher quality of life. ALS advocates from around the country have been instrumental in passing legislation that expanded veteran’s benefits, increased national data collection through the ALS Registry, and improved insurance and disability coverage for people with ALS. More than $950 million in federal funding has been generated for ALS-specific research since 1998.
Continue reading ALS Advocacy: Why It’s Important and What You Can Do to Make a Difference
In a perfect world, everyone would have equal access to healthcare resources (let’s get real, in a perfect world, ALS doesn’t even exist). Until that time – when we live in a world without ALS – living with ALS in a rural community can be extra challenging. According to The National Rural Health Association here are just a few reasons why:
Continue reading Living with ALS in Rural America