Monday, 9 February 2015

Good Things Can Come From Having ALS

It's easy to complain about ALS. Let's face it, nothing could be easier; it's a nasty disease which has stolen my ability to walk, my financial security, my career, you pick it. On top of all of that, this disease seems intent on ending my life long before normal, whatever that might have been. On the other hand, I don't often realize the good things that have happened to my life because of ALS. They are there, those good things, if I want to look for them.

Take for example the friends in my life. While I was certainly close to them before ALS, the advent of this illness has drawn me much closer to them, closer than I likely would have been without ALS. On top of that, this disease has brought people into my life whom I never would have met without the impact of the illness, people like Cheryl and Katherine, and many others.

By the way, I have to correct the spelling of Katherine's name. I have two different spellings, and I was using the wrong one. This means both my daughter and the woman in my life have the same name. This ought to be fun at some point.

Segue aside, there are other positive things which have changed in my life over the last couple of years, not the least of which is the travel I have done. I doubt I would have had the time to travel this much were it not for ALS. The enforced retirement has meant that time is available like never before. The reality is that, were I healthy, I would likely still be working, and working a lot, to cover the costs of an expensive divorce and my fairly generous lifestyle. In fact it is likely that I would be working well into my 60's, not simply for financial reasons but also because I wouldn't know what else to do.

Oddly enough, while I miss my boat desperately, another loss to ALS, this change has made me look at other kinds of travel and vacation. I've driven all over the country and much of the US thanks to no longer being able to spend summers, and winters, on my boat. I've traveled internationally, thanks to being free from the call of the sea. While it's a bit of a stretch, there are positive things to come out of losing my boat.

Finally there is the "what if" factor. How much of my life lately has happened because I have had this big change, this giant opening of both my mind and spirit? What might have happened had I not had ALS, and all the excellent health care I have had? The "what if" game can play out both positively and negatively.

In the end, the biggest single positive outcome from having ALS is what I have learned about myself, my abilities, my capabilities. I've learned that I am a lot stronger than I think. This blog and my TV interviews have demonstrated to me that I can be both well written and well spoken, that those skills I've learned in my career can be brought to bear in the cause of treatment and a cure. To put my voice and mind to some calling higher than myself, that's not such a bad thing.


  1. You were always strong Rick even if you did not realize it. Strong and brave.

  2. good to see a silver lining and super happy you have 2 Katherine's in your life to support you.. beer sometime soon?

  3. You've actually got three Katherine's. My middle name is Katheine too

    1. Actually, Mary, I did think of you. Fortunately I don't use your middle name all that often. But I certainly know what it is. It's the spelling that gets me on occasion. One of you is Katherine and one is Katharine, no?

    2. Kate is KathArine. Mine is KathErine. Mary (mare-ee) with the E :)