One thing people typically discover about me fairly quickly is that I am rarely short on opinions, and given a polite opportunity, I will share them. This comes much easier when the topic of conversation is exercise, fad diets, and calluses on my hands. At least with the science stuff, I always have facts, studies, and other research to back up my plan of action regarding. Seriously, every thing I factor into a workout program is by careful design, and I love this stuff! I can blab about it all day.
One thing that I don’t discuss as much, because it’s not about exercise, and because it SUCKS, is ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig’s disease is the worst disease in the world. Hands down. No one has ever persuaded me otherwise, because I watched my dad fight . for. his . life for 6 years with this disease. In ALS patients, a motor neuron dysfunction causes the muscles of the body to atrophy, leading to eventual paralysis until death. That means paralysis of the inspiratory muscles and muscles of the throat, making breathing, talking and swallowing harder. This means paralysis of the throat, hands, legs, face. It means that even though a few times my dad asked me to please scratch his nose because he had an itch he couldn’t reach, the truth is that hundreds more times, he probably didn’t even ask. And then he couldn’t walk, couldn’t breathe comfortably, couldn’t communicate as well.
And then he passed away.
I know everyone loses their parents. But he was ripped away. He was made to suffer his last years, and I’ll miss him for all my years now. So will my mom and sister, and his grandbabies whom he never met. I excuse myself at every wedding’s father-daughter dance because it’s not cool to be that weirdo sobbing on a happy occasion. I have often thought that should I marry, we should elope so there will be no aisle to walk down alone. Selfish, I know, but so much was ripped away. He was 60.
I didn’t tell many people when my dad was sick because I was in college at the time, and it was easier to focus on all the good things in my life, which was everything else. But now, I have no excuse not to tell everyone I can about it and encourage people to help support fundraising and increasing awareness. Even on a lifting blog.
ALS is More Common in Military and Veterans
ALS is more common in military veterans and athletes. Diagnoses seem to be more and more common, with someone new diagnosed every 90 minutes. Every 90 minutes!! Lou Gehrig was diagnosed in 1939 – 75 years ago! – and there is still only one treatment option, a $1000 a month drug that extends life in patients by 2 months. 2 months!! WTF, people?!
How can you help? If you do one thing, please go to alsa.org and sign up to be an advocate. This means you get an occasional email asking you to email your lawmakers when something on their ballot could allocate more funding to our cause. And if it is in your budget, please donate!! Research will find the cure! It will, it will! Thank you so much for reading and please reach out to me if you need ALS resources. email@example.com
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.