Scarlett and Rob are skiing in Tahoe. I have spent three nights without them, and am definitely looking forward to having them home tonight. While they were gone, I had various people stay with me, including my sister, two caregivers, and my friend Andrea who is well-versed in ALS having lost her father to the disease.
So I’ve been well taken care of, but my mood was slippery. On Saturday afternoon, I sat on the back deck in the sun, watching Otto run laps to impress me. Still I was alone and lonely and I allowed myself a significant amount of time to reflect on how shitty this situation is. When Rob and Scarlett first started going to Tahoe without me, I was incensed. It hurt to be left out, especially because I was just beginning to understand that I would be left out of so many things, even while I was still alive. I have never felt like there are places I couldn’t go. At least, not places where I wanted to go. When your legs are strong and your feet will carry you, you can go anywhere. When your voice is strong and your breath a guarantee, you need not question your place in the world. When your hands can open and close and your arms can reach up and out, you are allowed to be connected.
But my breath doesn’t come easily, and I can no longer sleep in a normal bed without torturing myself and my family. So Tahoe trips take place without me. As do trips to Arizona and Florida and even concerts at inaccessible venues with smoke machines that would have me gasping whether or not I could roll in unassisted. Whose world is this, Nas asked, and his answer the world is yours doesn’t feel true to me anymore. I certainly still have a world, but it seems to have gotten much smaller. Read More>
I miss my handwriting. I miss doodling on the margins of a page and filling in the answers to a crossword puzzle and sending a thank you note and making lists. I miss dancing and real hugs and opening doors and swinging my legs over the side of the bed and putting my feet on the ground.
Last night Scarlett was in my lap reading herself a book. Her hair is down to the middle of her back and it ends in rings of gold. All I could do was look at that glittery hair against her little brown back. My hands won’t even rise high enough to touch her. It is heartbreak. I want to hold her so much that my stomach hurts and I feel a quickening in my chest. I have shed enough tears over this to generate my own weather pattern, and still my body won’t accept the fact that it can’t reach for this person it created.
I am becoming increasingly breathless, and my tongue is twitching inside my mouth as if electrified. It is horrifying to watch, just one more muscle growing weaker and caving in, the whole thing looking like a worn down soccer field full of divots waiting to trap an ankle and snap it. I can still talk, still swallow. But my whole body is tired, and my brain races with ideas that I could never realize.
These are true things. But there are other true things that are significantly more uplifting. Read More>
My BiPAP is a source of great comfort for me. I hate that this is true, but at this point, it is only on my BiPAP that I can sleep. So when I get on it during the day, as I often do when a caregiver is on a lunch break, I tend to doze off in my wheelchair like an old man in front of the TV after a long day at work. I miss crawling into bed and arranging my head on the pillow, lying on my side, stretching out my arms. Sleeping is so different these days.
Sometimes I don’t even realize how tired I am. But I don’t get very good sleep at night, even if I’m not asking for help adjusting my body. I often lie awake thinking about the things I need to do (and trying not to add Drink Water or Go To The Bathroom to that list.) In the morning, I’m up early to help Scarlett get ready for school, or at least to encourage her via various versions of threat/reward/eventual apathy.
After she leaves, I try to get things done. It’s increasingly difficult. I’d love to sit down and write, but I don’t really have the energy. Or the time, because I am also working on taxes, her birthday party, an assignment I took on for the school auction, and general communication with friends and family who care enough to reach out and check on me, leaving me feeling happily obligated to reply in a timely manner. I only sometimes succeed, but when I do spend the morning emailing and texting, it zaps my energy for hours.
Which leads me to my time on the BiPAP. I might bring my phone with me to listen to music or podcasts, or I might bring my iPad so I can read a book, but inevitably, I will lean back and my eyes will close, as my body realizes that is finally finally breathing correctly again, and I can truly relax. I can’t believe this is real, that for the greater part of each day I am not getting enough air. I’m doing fine, and I manage it all with medication, including my important nightly wine regimen Read More>