Sunday, 21 February 2016

Bye, Bye, Biceps

Well, it's happened. For some time now I have been noticing the decrease in strength in my arms, my left arm in particular. Now, it's official. I can no longer flex the bicep in my left arm. I can try. Other muscles move in my upper left arm. But my bicep refuses to twitch, move, shake, shimmy, wiggle, whatever. It don't work no more.

I noticed it this morning while I was sitting in my wheelchair enjoying a coffee while not wearing a shirt. It's not the way I spent most mornings, so this final resting place of my left bicep may have happened a while ago without my noticing. I happened to pick up my cup, and as I did so, my left arm, the one doing the picking up in this case, moved funny, flexed oddly. Instead of my bicep moving up and down, it sort of rotated, making a dimple in the crook of my elbow. Upon further testing, instead of a bulge, it just sat there, flabby and unmoving.

The other muscles in my arms are taking up the slack. My right bicep seems to maintain some semblance of working order. My latissimus dorsi flexes a bit still, as one might expect. My deltoids are somewhat active, although nowhere near what they used to be. My triceps still seem fairly good, if not strong at least responding to an intentional signal to move.

This, of course, is a signal of what is to come. In a few months the other muscles in my arms will start to fail me. They will continue on their weakening path until, like my biceps, they fail to move much at all. My flexors and abductors in my lower arm will work for a while yet, then, ultimately they will go the path of my upper arms.

I'm still reasonably capable, still able to lift, pull, push and carry to some degree. I can still wheel myself to some degree, still make a transfer although not well, still drive my truck. This is a slow moving process, so slow that I don't notice it some times, like my left bicep. I hadn't noticed it failing to flex until this morning, although it has been failing for some time. That's the way ALS works.

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