Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

Urban Day Out

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James Martin
Sunday, November 11, 2012

Urban Day Out

Last Friday, I ventured out of my rural home and went to the big city. This is a reporting year, which means I have to report my Continuing Legal Education credits aka "CLEs." Unfortunately I was five short, so I had to pick up a day's worth of credits. I am no longer practicing law and could have let my license go inactive, but truthfully I am not psychologically prepared to give up that which has defined me for the last twenty years. Typical attorney ego.

Though I am not in pain, most of the time I spend in varying degrees of discomfort. Sitting in my chair supported with pillows and looking like the Staypuff Marshmallow Man, I am the closest to comfortable. Standing still, walking too much, sitting without neck and arm support, comfortable I am not. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to spend Friday in hotel conference rooms listening to legal lectures. Puts a new spin on TGIF.

One of my many pet-peeves is paying to park, and it is especially peevish when the rates are exorbitant. At past conferences I had a secret cheap place to park, but that lot is six blocks away and significantly out of my walking dead endurance limit. So I swallowed my peeves and parked in the garage next to the hotel. The nominal fee for this was equivalent to two matinees, 16 liters of diet soda, and four McChicken sandwiches, or four ounces of gold bullion. I should have sucked it up and walked.

My walking ability continues to deteriorate and I have a difficult time picking up my feet. My left foot is especially slow to respond, but I still think it was Daniel Day Lewis' best role. In a spasm of poor judgment I decided to ride the escalator, which at this point in my life is akin to downhill skiing. The stairs were moving, beyond my control; my mind directed my feet to step and my feet were slow to respond. I stepped on the crack, which morphed into a cliff with my old friend gravity pulling me down. With the gracefulness of a circus elephant I was able to grasp the handrail and maintain my precarious balance.

But the stairs were still moving with me riding the conveyor like the chocolate in that classic I Love Lucy episode. Instead of Lucy there to catch me, the other Lucy was there holding the football, just waiting to pull it away so that I would go flying when the stairs folded away into oblivion. With much concentration and a determined focus I was able to safely disembark from the urban escalator thrill ride. And Lucy was foiled.

The conference was informative if not exciting. The last morning session ended and it was time for lunch. I had already wasted a fortune on parking so there was no way I was going to pay for a hotel lunch. I decide to hobble and wobble the two and a half blocks to the Grand Avenue Mall food court. But I had to cross two major streets. I now know what Frogger feels like. I had to dodge buses and cars, bikes and college kids, and even an alligator that must have crawled out of the sewer. The only things missing were rows of turtles and floating logs.

By the time the day was over, I was exhausted but glad to have my credits. It was good to venture out, but in the words of that great philosopher Glenda the Good Witch, "There's no place like home."

Last updated: 10:46 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

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