The Comeback

Marines from Headquarters & Service Company, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines, conducting a dawn patrol in Nawa District, Afghanistan. Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga.

Marines from Headquarters & Service Company, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines, conducting a dawn patrol in Nawa District, Afghanistan. Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga.

 

Hello my friends and welcome back. It has been a while since my last post and I would like to apologize for going MIA. I really didn’t believe that anyone would care to read and share thoughts regarding ALS, but this shouldn’t be a factor. I am going to continue my thoughts and ideas for, if nothing else, my own benefit. And to you reader, thank you for caring.

I would like to take a moment to recognize my son, Cody, for assisting me with the organization and editing of my blog. Thank you for believing in the idea and for encouraging me to express my thoughts and feelings about my life with ALS. I love you so much and I am so grateful to be blessed with you, your brothers and your lovely mother.

I abruptly ended the first post in sort of a cowardly manner and that is not what Marines do. We finish what we start. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Finding serenity at the Del Mar beach.

Finding serenity with family at the Del Mar beach.

 

I recently went to the beach with my family to gain some serenity. I truly love and enjoy the beach. This was the main reason that our family went “all-in” to move from the desert to the beach. The extreme desert heat was dangerously draining my energy. With the symptoms of ALS, the heat was only making matters worse. To put it plainly, I was dying very quickly and needed to move to a more ALS-friendly setting. The beach was always my dream destination and my family wanted to grant me my dying wish. I truly love my family!

A quick side note for the people who aren’t familiar with ALS, if I ever wanted to do something big, I had to do it sooner rather than later. You see, ALS is a death sentence with no chance of parole. This disease has the tendency to work very quickly and without mercy. Many doctors do not realize this, but when they state you have been diagnosed with ALS, they place great fear in the patient and the family. My diagnoses was followed by the statistical fact that ALS patients typically die between 2-4 years. For the record, I am currently on year number 7, with no life threatening symptoms. Screw the statistics! And just live your life.

Ok, back to moving to the beach. This trip contained several sacrifices my family had to make. My wife, at the time was working at the local county library, had to say her goodbyes to her friends and colleagues that she had known for several years. My oldest son was about to begin his senior year in high school. He was not okay with this at all. I am so sorry my son and honestly, I was not okay with it either. Moving to a school on your last year knowing nobody, was not good situation to be in. And again, I am sorry. All three of my sons had to saying goodbye to friends and teachers, whom they have known for most of their childhood years.

 Northeast view of Twentynine Palms, California from Donnell Hill on the south side of town. Public domain image.

Northeast view of Twentynine Palms, California from Donnell Hill on the south side of town. This was where we lived. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Before we moved to near the beach, this was home. We built our lives there. Thanks to fate and the Marine Corps, we ended up in the desert. The Military life is rough for families, especially having to move from duty station to duty station every three years. From house to house, having to say goodbye over and over again. This lifestyle was pure hell and we never really felt that we had a place to call our own.

So, we were determined to never rent and we strategically put our house together. We selected our acreage and built our new home in a beautiful spot. It was just simply breathtaking. Having absolute hatred for the desert, we had always thought that we would eventually move out. But for other reasons and dreams. Not because of ALS.

This is where we pick up from my first posting. If you read my first post, you will see what I am talking about. You might even understand where the anger, frustration, sadness and the guilt I feel come from. All of these negative feelings have led to my depression.

If only this Marine was as tough mentally as I was physically. The depression had consumed me to the point that my family didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t see the destruction I was causing on my family and to myself. My pride was driving a wedge between reality and falsehood. I was unable to admit that I couldn’t do this alone. I wasn’t able to admit that I needed help.

I was desperate and needed change in my life. I needed some new tools for my toolbox in order to combat depression. So I swallowed my pride and began to seek some form of counseling. I met a very good psychologist through the Veterans Administration. It was very beneficial collaborating with the counselor. Depression is a hard battle to be facing, even without throwing ALS into the mixture.

For the first time in my life I would have to be honest with my feelings, I would have to admit that I am broken. I have to admit that I needed help. I was willing to put in the effort needed to begin healing myself and to repair my relationship with my family. For we will need each other to fight against this demon called ALS.

Counseling has provided me the tools and education needed to utilize them. Along with medication, my ALS support groups and my family, these are very beneficial factors to have at your ringside. I can honestly say that I am in a better place right now.

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Until next time my friends.

Diagnosis : ALS

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Grand Island, Nebraska is where I grew up. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hello. My name is Chris and I have ALS. I was thinking about starting a blog to help me put together thoughts about anything that might help you and I get through the day. This message may not reach you, but I will send it anyway. First, let me begin by saying hello and welcome to my blog. I was wondering if anyone would like to share any thoughts, suggestions, feelings or whatever. I would like to have a safe environment for us to share what ever we feel.

I was diagnosed with ALS in 2010. Needless to say that was the worst news that a doctor had ever told me. First, I wasn’t sure what ALS was so I asked. After he explained it to me, then I thought surely he was joking. I instantly was filled with anger and that has not changed for me… Having said that, I would like to try and explain the worst day of my life. I don’t know if this is even possible, but here goes. I was thirty-eight years old with a family. A beautiful wife and three wonderful sons.

We had a life filled with school, sports, hunting, fishing, a mortgage, car payments, credit card debt, and two full-time jobs. I was just finishing my MBA and interviewing for serious, life-changing jobs. We were making big plans for our future. I was was so excited about “finally” making all of my promises to my family come true. Thirteen years of military service and five years of college classes later, I was given a freaking death sentence. People often ask me what does ALS feel like? Well, physically it feels like getting kicked in the groin over and over again.

Psychologically, it feels like everything is getting or will become torn away from you. I will stop here for now. I get very tired typing with my eyes. So until next time.