Lou Gehrig’s Disease Hits Close to Home
I never thought I would be affected by ALS aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, mainly because it is so rare. Only about 5,000 people a year contract this disease here in the US. However, two people I know have been directly and greatly affected by this killer disease.
My niece, back in Illinois, was recently diagnosed with a very rapidly progressing case of ALS. Her first clue was some weakness and numbness in her right hand, but within only a few weeks it got much worse and spread.
A trip to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, confirmed that she has full blown ALS and is only expected to live another 3-5 years! She is only 52 years old.
In only a few months she is no longer able to push the button on her laundry detergent dispenser or buckle or unbuckle her grandkid’s car seats.
She can’t use her right arm at all already. Her left is now so weak she can’t shampoo her own hair. She can’t cut up vegetables with a knife or open jars for herself.
Another lady I met recently at the Hobby Lobby in Phoenix watched her husband die slowly over a course of 7 years. He lived longer than most probably because he was a body builder and in extremely good shape before he got the disease.
ALS is almost always fatal and it is a horrible way to die.
Many people know ALS as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who got the illness and had to retire in 1939 because of it.
The most famous person (since Lou Gehrig) to have the disease is Stephen Hawking. Hawking had a very rare and slow progressing form of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
ALS is a neurodegenerative neuromuscular disease that results in the progressive loss of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles. ALS is the most common type of motor neuron disease.
“Once ALS starts, it almost always progresses, eventually taking away the ability to walk, dress, write, speak, swallow, and breathe, and shortening the life span. “
“The onset of ALS often involves muscle weakness or stiffness as early symptoms. Progression of weakness, wasting, and paralysis of the muscles of the limbs and trunk, as well as those that control vital functions such as speech, swallowing, and breathing, generally follows.”
“How fast and in what order this occurs is very different from person to person. While the average survival time is three years, about 20 percent of people with ALS live five years, 10 percent will survive 10 years and 5 percent will live 20 years or longer.”
Two Facts You Should Know:
ALS is not contagious.
Currently , there is no cure for ALS.
“Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease do occur in people in their twenties and thirties.”
“About 90 percent of ALS cases occur without family history, which is known as sporadic ALS. The remaining 10 percent of ALS cases are inherited through a mutated gene, which is known as familial ALS.”
“For unknown reasons, military veterans are up to twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as the general public.”
“Nobody knows what causes ALS.”
“Recent studies show that military veterans, particularly those deployed during the Gulf War, are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS.”
So far nobody has a clue why these particular veterans have contracted ALS at so much of a higher rate than any other group, but it could eventually lead to figuring out a cure for the disease.
If you would like to help researchers cure ALS you can contribute directly to the Arizona chapter of the ALS Association at:
Please pray for my niece and the sweet lady here in Phoenix who lost her husband to ALS as she is still grieving.
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