Sarah Coglianese, diagnosed in June 2012 at age 33.
I was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, when I was 33 years old. The year before, I suddenly started falling at random times. It was embarrassing, confusing, and a bit scary. I fell down stairs, up stairs, while walking down a street pushing my baby in a stroller. It took 6 months to get to the right person, a neurologist who could tell I had ALS just by hearing my story and seeing my twitching muscles. It took another 6 months to get the official diagnosis.
I was a runner. A walker. I went to regular yoga classes. I drove. Took my daughter to playgrounds, and danced with her in our kitchen. Now she is 4 years old and I’m in a wheelchair. She says she doesn’t remember a time when I could walk. Her earliest memory, in fact, seems to be the time that I stumbled, dropped a glass bottle of milk in our garage and started to cry. She was 2.
What would I do without my daughter? Without my husband? Without my sister and her family, who live nearby and are our main support? If living with ALS has taught me anything, it’s that life is good. There are lots of things I could be sad or angry about, and I do have my moments. But my prevailing feeling is one of gratitude, because I now truly appreciate the little things in life: being with family and friends, reading with my daughter, watching her swim, watching her grow. I want to be around for a long time to do just that.