Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

Family Paralympics

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James Martin
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our house has a lot of stairs, stairs going up to the second floor and down to the basement. Two at the front door and three at the back and in from the garage.  We have a step down into the living room and quite a few on the deck. It is a challenging obstacle course for anyone with mobility limitations.  This week, our quota of physical limitations stumbled up from one to three.

Jonathan, our high school junior was the starting center in a varsity volleyball tournament. He went up high for a block and came down low on the out of place opponent's foot.  He rolled his ankle, hard.  Over the following couple of days, his foot, toes and ankle turned a multiplicitous array of colors.  It was shades of purple, black and blue, like an impressionist painting of pain on a cantaloupe canvas.   Because of the swelling and color, the prognosis was a sprain with treatment of ice, an ace bandage and crutches.  Welcome to the obstacle course.

My daughter Maggie is on the freshman tennis team. There was a parent/teen night of doubles tennis and she asked her mother to do it with her.  Why not me?  So what if I move slowly with a cane, and have little use of my left side.  I think that's discrimination.  I should sue...if only I knew a good lawyer.

The mother daughter team played hard, they played to win.  Early in the set, Kathy turned her right foot.  According to her it made the same sound as a bowl of rice crispies in cold milk, Snap, Crackle, Pop.  She continued to play on, and they won the set 6-2.  The thrill of victory dulled the pain, that and a sale at Target; anything to save a buck.

By the time they made it home, she could barely put any weight on it.  Unfortunately the pain remained, as did the normal color, indicating that it was not a sprain. That meant she caught a break, in the literal sense. The next morning she got an x-ray that showed the fracture.  She received a pair of crutches to match our son's, and a foot brace in fashionable basic black, with orders to keep it elevated.  Welcome to the obstacle course.

Later that same day, the school trainer called and advised that due to Jonathan's progression of color, an x-ray was advised.  He was taken to the same clinic for the same x-ray on the same foot as his mother.  Double the deductible, double the fun, with no family discount.  His x-ray showed that he caught a break and did not have one, just a severe sprain.  Therefore he is not out for the season.  But he did get a brace to match his mother.  

Our family unit now has two people on crutches and me with a cane.  So this weekend we are hosting a family paralympics. The events include going up stairs, coming down stairs, getting up from the couch, carrying hot coffee while disabled, and the most competitive: wrestling for control of the remote.  At least with only two other competitors, I am guaranteed a medal if not the remote. 

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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