Sunday, September 23, 2007


When this schizophrenic ride I was put on with this cancer sends me plummeting into the throes of despair, I should always remember my friend, and distant relative, Jim. I have written about him before. He has ALS. The only thing is that now he is really dying from ALS.

I cannot imagine how he felt when he received the diagnosis. You KNOW you are going to die - and soon. He was diagnosed about three years ago. Things progressed fairly rapidly from then. He first lost the use of his left arm. Then it was his right.

At last year’s Wide Spot Community Club Christmas party, he was there. I hadn’t seen him in a while. I was shocked to see that he had to be fed. He couldn’t hold a fork. I was thinking about how sad that was.

Last week when we were at the SSB, the neighbor who lives between his place and ours told us that hospice has said it is a matter of days now.

In my Pollyanna world, I assumed that his death would not be painful. After all, in my thinking, ALS is a disease of the nerves. They stop communicating with the muscles which leads to paralysis. Yeah, that is true, but the pain receptors don’t quit working. He is in pain, and alot of it.

Jim had been on methadone. It wasn’t enough. Hospice wanted him on morphine. Jim didn’t want it. Well, he was outvoted.

A newborn baby can do more than Jim can do. He is able to turn his head a bit to the right, but that is it. When he is moved, his head must be supported or it will drop back - like a newborn.

I think of Jim often these days. His mind is still sharp - save the morphine fog I’m sure he is in. He has hours and hours to think about his impending death. His family is all with him now, and I hope that brings him some peace. I hope it also gives his wife some respite from the care she has shouldered by herself all this time - alone except for the few hours hospice is there.

I know that Jim is ready for the future. He is that kind of person. Before he plunged even deeper into his paralysis, he had a motorized chair that he could control. He wanted to attend church. The men in his congregation even removed the last pew in the little church so that he could come in. I don’t think he ever made it in person, but I am sure he was there in spirit. I really think Jim is ready to meet his God.

Still I realize I am weak. I bemoan little things about my plight. I wish I had his strength.

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