Sunday, 13 January 2013

Ancillary Benefits

ALS may be the condition, but there are a lot of "side effects". None of these are side effects from medication or anything like that; I don't take medication. They are the side effects of living. I call them ancillary effects, or more sarcastically, ancillary benefits.

Take my knee injury for instance; I tore the ligaments in my right knee when I fell on my boat recently. Injuries from falling are one of the most comment side effects of my condition. I have bruises and bumps and lumps which I find quite by accident. I'm not sure where they came from, but I suspect someone who doesn't have ALS has fewer of these mystery contusions.

I recently earned the gift of bursitis in my elbow. A "bursa" is the fluid filled sac that cushions your joints and reduces bone friction. When you damage the bursa, either through trauma or repetitive motion, the bursa swells and expands. The kind of bursitis I have even has a name - Student's Elbow! My bursitis is most likely a combination of trauma from banging my elbow, either in a fall or some other way, and the repetitive motion from using my manual wheelchair. No wonder they want me to switch to a power chair.

It's not just the physical ancillary benefits that are problematic, it's emotional damage too. I was at a party at friend's home last night. I have a great group of friends and they, along with my son, helped me in and out of the house. My friend's house has a slope up to the gate and my son helped me walk up the slope. The front door had a high sill so another friend had to lift my left leg up and over the sill, since I cannot lift my legs higher than an inch or so. Later that night another friend helped me walk down the path while my son brought up the truck so I would not have to walk too far.

While we were inside the house, I had to use the washroom; it was up a flight of four steps with a low handrail. I couldn't get up the stairs. So I slid up the stairs on my ass and my friends helped me into a chair from the floor so I could stand and walk. This and other problems act as a constant reminder of what is happening to me.

Were it not for my strong sense of self, this could be very emotionally debilitating. For some ALS patients, it stops them from going out and enjoying life. For me, it's a nuisance; even so, it has an impact on my self-esteem and sense of independence.

I am still a going concern but the going is slowing.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Rick I am so sad that this has to happen to you but you are just amazing in your attitude to your illness. What a wonderful man you are.
    love you loads