Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Sometimes, for no apparent reason whatsoever, I will be sitting at my desk or sitting in my chair at home and this wave of sadness pours over me so strongly it is almost physical. One minute I am reading or working or thinking, and then suddenly out of the blue I feel immensely sad. It's not always about ALS; I know this happens to other people too, normal people, people who don't have a terminal illness.

Yesterday morning I awoke feeling that way, swamped in the distress of my disease, wondering whether or not I should even bother to get out of bed. In reality every day when I wake up I start the day thinking about ALS. Every day begins with "Ah shit." Then I get past it and move into life and living. Yesterday morning there was no getting past it. I just wanted to stay in bed a feel sad, sliding deeply into my own personal slough of self-pity.

It doesn't work, you know, sliding down into self-pity. It may feel overwhelming at the moment but in reality is is a passing cloud, a moment when weakness takes over and blessings are hidden. To move onward all I need do is take the first step, do the first thing, think the first thought past the screen door of my depression.

Most mornings I think "I'll get up and make coffee. Then I will write and feel better." I know this is true because I do it so often. Yet on the morning in question I was lacking even that emotional strength. I didn't have the psychic energy to consider even getting out of bed. So instead I thought to myself, "All I have to do is swing one leg over the edge of the bed and the second one will follow, sort of." My legs don't work all that well so it's a bit of drama to get them moving.

I did it. I took both hands and grabbed the middle of my thigh. That's how I move my legs these days, mostly by using my hands to pull them up, down and around things. So I grabbed my left leg, the one closest to the edge of the bed, pulled it up and then let it slip over the edge of the bed. It was uncomfortable enough to entice me to do the same with my right leg. That combination was awkward and clumsy enough to convince me to sit up, so I grabbed the walker from beside my bed and pulled myself into a sitting position.

I was up. After that it was a simple matter of schlumphing into the bathroom and back, then sliding on the bed over to the dresser to get socks and underwear, then grabbing a shirt and pants from the closet and tossing them over to the bed, and finally assembling the parts into a reasonable facsimile of a human being.

Today I feel better. I am still sad, partly because I just reread my entry about Bert. I've lost other friends over the years, good friends. I've had family pass, just as we all do. Yet thinking about Bert and what he lost really hits me sometimes, quite often in fact. But I am up, showered, shaved, having coffee and writing this entry.

You can't deal with sadness or depression all at once. You have to do it one leg at a time.

1 comment:

  1. One leg at a time.... Man! you ARE good Rick.