Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Day @ A Time

     A couple years ago, my Mom started having some issues.  We didn't pay much attention to them because you never think that something like this will happen to you or your family.  It started with her left leg.  She would say that she just couldn't get her leg to do what she wanted it to do.  She was slow walking and you could tell she was very careful with every step she made.  As much as it sucked, we dealt with it, thinking nothing was seriously wrong.  After all, if it were something serious wouldn't there be more symptoms by now?  Well, I got my answer.  She then began having issues with her balance.  She had fallen outside, striking the side of her face, getting one hell of a shiner.  The day I saw that bruise on her face, I was terrified.  How could that happen to my mom?  She is my hero in every aspect of the word.  There was nothing she could not do.  She was strong physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She was my rock, my anchor, my best friend.     
     Her symptoms began slowly progressing.  Well, it seemed slow at first.  First was the left leg, then the balance, then the right leg, her arms, her hands, occasionally her vision, uncontrollable emotions, and then her speech.  She made appointment after appointment, with general practitioners and neurologists.  She and I would just Google her symptoms trying to come up with an answer.  Any answer.  There were just so many possibilities.  Some possibilities we could deal with and others we prayed it wouldn't be.  She had blood test after blood test, MRI after MRI, EMG after EMG, and still no answers.  She was told that it could possibly be one of a few things.  The main ones were MS, PLS, or ALS.  Her symptoms could come from any of those.  It was nice to get it down to just a few possible diagnoses, but we still needed to know.  We needed to prepare ourselves for the future.  We needed to know what was to come.
     She finally found a doctor that specialized in all of this.  And as fate would have it, this guy graduated and now taught at the college my little brother now attended.  He started from the beginning with all of the test, ran each and every one of them.  He also did a spinal tap.  In March 2011 my Mom went in for another appointment.  That appointment changed our lives forever.  Dr. Brown is now 95% sure that she has got Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS - more popularly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease). 
     I got the news in an email late one night.  Before anyone jumps to any assumptions, we have an understanding, its hard for her to talk and much easier to type, so we email a lot, it's just like talking on the phone for us.  I remember that night like it was yesterday.  I was about to go to bed and decided I would check my email one last time and just send her a little note letting her know I was thinking about her and to tell her I love her.  Instead, there was an email waiting for me to open from her.  She informed me of Dr. Brown's medical opinion and asked me to pray, which I did.  But then in her true style she wanted to make sure that everyone else was ok.  Although the tears ran down my face and my heart hurt like I never thought it could, she didn't want us to be sad.  She wanted us to be ok before anything else.
     I remember lying in bed that night asking God why.  Why her?  She was such a good person.  She is a Christian, a great mother, always thought of others before herself.  She is my best friend.  What did she do to deserve this?  I was sad, angry, and frustrated.  I just couldn't figure it out.  I couldn't call her the next day.  I knew I would just cry, which I knew she didn't need, so I had to wait a day to speak to her.  I still cried, but hearing her voice made me feel so much better.
     As much as everyone says to have faith and believe and pray, you still have to be realistic.  I'm not dumb, so I won't pretend to be.  I know what we are looking at.  I know the battle that lies ahead, but I also know that I will be by her side till the end, and I know her, she won't go down without a fight.  She can't just give up, I won't allow that.  As much faith and prayer I have, I realistically know that my Mom will most likely be taken from us long before her time.
      I think the hardest part about all of this is that I am so far away.  I live 6 hours away from her.  Money is really tight these days, so we usually visit 2 or 3 times a year.  It isn't as often as I would like, but I think it makes those visits that much more precious and enjoyable for us.  I cling to every moment when she is here or when I go to her house.  I don't leave her side.  We love to sit down and talk about old memories, new things going on in our lives, and we laugh, we laugh until it hurts.  I will never forget the laughter that would just pour out of us.
     Life handed us lemons, but we are trying our damnedest to make lemonade.  She is doing the best she can right now, just making due with what she's got.  She is thankful for everyday.  She can only speak for a few minutes before it becomes too hard to talk.  She's now got a wheelchair and walker.  She isn't the same Mom I grew up with, but she is still amazing in my eyes.  She raised me to be the woman I am today, and I will make her proud.  She is my hero.

I am sure there are quite a few things that I didn't touch base on.  I didn't want this to be too long or not make sense.  I get pretty emotional when I write/ talk about it.  But these are the facts.  I am proud of her, I always will be, and we will not feel sorry for ourselves.  I'm using this blog as a sort of vent.  It is my way of saying exactly what is on my mind without worrying about upsetting anyone.  If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with ALS, there is one thing that has kept me sane through all of this.  It has helped me to see that this is not the end of the world.  The ALS Forums have really saved me through all of this.  Here is a link to it if anyone is interested in checking it out.

Until next time.....


No comments: