Saturday, 4 January 2014

It's About Communication.

The following analogy describing ALS is from my online friend, Robin Hanna-Mower. She posted this on Facebook. The analogy is so good, I asked her permission to use it. I've made a few edits but essentially these are her words

ALS for those who don't understand : say you are in a relationship. Women will be the nerves, men are the muscles. When a relationship starts to go, the nerves want to communicate with the muscles. The muscles, in the beginning, start slowly detaching, not wanting to communicate. This detachment makes them uncomfortable, so they start twitching and the more they twitch the more they start to spasm. The more the muscles detach, the harder the nerves work to communicate. They even try to rebuild the connection with new nerves. All this work at communication is exhausting, both physically and emotionally. As with all bad relationships, eventually the communication stops. Many times the muscles will come back into communication and, in ALS, this shows up as spasms; the muscles and nerves want to communicate but don't have the ability to do so. Finally, they divorce. Communication ends.

Take that analogy a bit further and you can better understand this horrible disease. It's not just one relationship; there are many nerve/muscle relationships in the body. Some of these relationships are working just fine. There's lots of excellent communication. Other of these relationships are in the early stages of failure and others are well down the path to complete divorce. In ALS patients, the relationships deteriorate in different places and at different paces. So while one of us has bad legs, another has bad arms, and yet another has bad swallowing and speaking.

Finally, think of how wearing this is on the overall spirit and health of the typical ALS patient. We are exhausted, not because we do anything to exhaust ourselves, but because our nerves are so tired from trying so hard to communicate to our muscles. We are expending nervous energy without doing anything at all. When things are going well in a relationship, it's easy. Communication flows easily and can even energize the relationship, building strength in both the nerves and the muscles. When communication begins to become difficult, you invest a great deal of energy in the hopes that you can become strong again, yet ultimately all that happens with ALS is the muscles become weaker and weaker, and the nerves become tireder and tireder.

ALS; it's a relationship of one part of your body with another. Eventually all the relationships between nerve and muscle fail. Communication ends. Then, so will I.

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