Thursday, 21 July 2016

Happy Birthday To Me

It's my birthday today. I'm supposed to be happy, and in many ways I am. I'm alive, something I would have bet against when I was diagnosed 44 months ago. I am loved, loved by many people near and far. I am well fed, well dressed, and well cared for. I have a lovely home, a wonderful woman, and, still today, the freedom to come and go as I please.

So why have I been struggling with sadness and depression these last few days, and especially last night?

First of all, depression is simply a part of ALS. Having this disease, without any of the mental stuff that goes with it, can be pretty depressing. So no matter what, you can always expect a layer of sadness within me. It's just a part of living with ALS. But there is much more than that going on with me right now, and, as you might expect, this current bout of sadness is more than just one thing. It's many things, besides the personal sadness I experience in life.

I think the big one is the new equipment that has come into my life over the last few days. Notwithstanding that this gear makes my life easier, it is yet another reminder of where I am headed, of how different my future looks as opposed to what I expected. This has happened before, that a major addition in equipment has hit me hard. This time it's no different. I have a short future, and it's filled with ever increasing amounts of medical equipment.

It's more than that, though. Oddly enough, my birthday is kind of sad for me too. I think of all the other people I know with ALS, the ones who are at their life's end, the ones who are struggling to keep going, the ones in hospitals or care homes. I feel guilty, in a way, perhaps a kind of survivor guilt. Why am I still here when so many other good people have gone? My birthday reminds me that I am still alive. Why aren't they?

Then there are the personal things in my life, the myriad issues small and large which seem magnified by this disease. I am constantly shaking, dropping stuff, breaking things. It's getting worse. Some would say that everyone goes through this, and they would be right. It just seems magnified for me, larger, a bigger issue, thanks to ALS. I struggle with aches and pains, some from ALS, some from life. There are so many other things, too many to list here.

Today is my birthday. Katherine has already given me a wonderful gift. Dozens of people have wished me well online. I expect to hear from my children today, always a highlight for me. In fact I've already had a birthday wish from one of them. I'm alive. I'm mobile. I'm even going to get my driver's licence renewed. I have a lot to be thankful for. It's just hard to get past the gloom sometimes.


  1. Happy Birthday Richard. Here's to many more.

  2. Understood. Best wishes for your birthday! Thanks for telling it like it is...

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  4. Happy Birthday Richard and God bless you today and every day.

  5. Happy Birthday! Good luck on your driver's license. Or, maybe renewed means you don't have to take a test.