Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Wedding Ring Slipped Off!

"My Wedding Ring Slipped Off!"

It happened a few mornings ago. I was showering, soaping up the washcloth and thus my fingers, when the sensation was communicated between my ring finger and my brain: "the wedding ring is over the first knuckle intent on journeying off my finger to the shower floor!" With a panicked quickness I was pleased my body could still muster my hand clenched into a fist thus stopping the ring's slippery journey.

As I continued to shower it occurred to me that my body's recoiling at the recognized potential temporary displacement of the ring from my finger to the shower floor wasn't:

* Concern about the ring going down the drain - way too small of drain holes;
* Compassion for my wife being inconvenienced when she had to bend down to retrieve it when I was done showering;
* Nor was it that married couples' superstitious attitude about ever taking the rings off - I'd long ago recovered from that idea after a few too many jammed and swollen fingers playing basketball and softball.

No, the issue that profoundly and disturbingly made its home in my psyche was that it symbolized in yet another more in-your-face physical way than even the daily morning mirror-views that I already had come to detest, that my body continues its loss of muscle mass. One of the identified physical circumstances of ALS is that there's a breakdown between the brain and spinal cord and our muscles; thus our muscles continually are losing the ability to function. And with the loss of function/use follows the loss of muscle mass or bulk.

It happens at different speeds and to different parts of our bodies - that is, each PALS is impacted differently. My early symptoms of weakened legs and energy were the result of ALS impacting my leg and diaphragm muscles. While I can still stand to transfer to and from bed, the shower and toilet, there's no way I can take a single step. While I can still eat whatever I want, I certainly cannot eat as much as I used to. While I can still speak softly, doing so wears me out very quickly. Some in our ALS community cannot speak or eat solid food. Some are totally bed-ridden. Some cannot use their hands. (I am currently learning to use an eye-gaze communication device so I can continue being in touch with friends and family via Facebook and email as my faltering fingers fail me.)

So, while we may joke among our community about what we're dealing with in order to cope with our reality, we find it beyond comprehension how others (say, Atlanta area radio announcers!) could intentionally try to get laughs at the expense of our conditions! I think Steve Gleason's, the former New Orleans Saint NFL player who was the target of their misguided bit, response was very gracious and right on. Instead of spending an exorbitant amount of time bemoaning their obvious mistake, let's use their misstep to bring more focused attention to the lack of awareness and treatment of this dreaded and deadly disease.

Thanks, friends! Blessings on you all!

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