My primary intent with this blog is, and has been, to share my journey with ALS. Sometimes my essays have diverged on tangents that amuse or interest me, and hopefully you. Other essays have dealt with the faith aspect of how I am confronting my illness and others have chronicled the progression of my disease. This essay is different; here I share a glimpse at the psychological impact ALS has on me. It is not meant as a pity party or an invitation for sympathy. I have vacillated on posting this essay, but ultimately decided it is part of the disease and therefore should be part of the blog.
The other day, we ventured out to get a passport for our daughter for an up coming trip. Unfortunately the weather was not kind, the roads were poor and our speed slow, but we made it. During our time there, the snow continued to fall. And when we pulled out of our parking spot we got stuck in the drifted snow.
Maggie and I got out to try and dig out as Kathy tried to rock the vehicle, all to no avail. Because I was of little use, I abandoned the effort in search of a snow shovel. During my absence, some good samaritans were able to push the vehicle into the clear. Kathy and Maggie then picked me up and we slowly made our way home. I was then, as always now, simply a passenger along for the ride.
This was a difficult trip for me. One of the worst parts of my illness is dealing with the mental and emotional realization of my limitations. I was of no use in this situation and to top it off I was stuck in the passenger seat with bad road conditions. Both situations were demoralizing. I felt helpless, out of control, and frustrated; all emotions that I experience with greater frequency as my disease progresses.
Fortunately these emotions do not last long, but depression is a common collateral disease associated with ALS. I am very conscious of that fact and know what to look for. So far I have been able to deal with these feelings in the typical male way; I ignore them and they eventually go away. Tick...tick...tick....tick...tick..
I know that the psychological impact is simply a small part of my journey, a journey more difficult than many but not nearly as bad as others. I am not in pain, and primarily still independent at home; most importantly I have a loving family supporting me. For these things, I am truly blessed.
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.