Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Little Cold Water Goes A Long Way

Everyone has heard of this "Ice Bucket Challenge" for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).  You can see pictures and videos everywhere on the internet and Facebook.  People pouring ice water over their heads in order to bring this disease to the forefront so more money will be donated and more research will take place to find the cause and possibly some type of treatment.

This challenge has a little more personal connection for me.  My mother passed away 14 years ago from complications caused by ALS.  I was lucky to have her for 62 years but she shouldn't have gone so early. ALS is a horrible, debilitating disease and there is no known cure.  

My parents lived in a little town in Ohio, where I grew up.  When I moved to the East Coast, I didn't get home enough but we did make sure that we got together at least twice a year.  About 14 years ago I was talking to my mother on the phone and it sounded like she was slurring her words.  I talked to my dad about this but he said he did not notice.  Then I talked to my sisters and they said they also noticed but didn't think much of it. My sisters and I talked to my dad and had him take her to the Cleveland Clinic, where she was diagnosed with ALS.  Over the next three and a half years, my father took her for treatment and took care of her as she slowing deteriorated. She went from a lively, active, over-involved Grandma to a bed-ridden shell of her former self.  What is the most difficult about this disease is that often, the mind keeps working while the body stops.  My mother had so much to say but couldn't speak at the end.  She was there in her mind, but her body didn't respond.  That was the most painful piece of this disease, her mind was still working. Luckily, I was able to get there in the end and hold her hand and she did get to hold my 14 yr. old daughter, who was just a month old. 

Whatever you think of these types of challenges, this one has brought a large amount of money and attention to the cause.  A cause that is close to my heart.  If you know someone who had ALS, or even if you don't, please donate and help find a cure. http://alsa.org

Thank to my fellow administrators who took on the challenge from one of our teachers and donated in my mother's name. Also, thank you for the professional and informational way you presented this: http://youtu.be/lIO56zTwxKg

Also, thank you to my friend, Pam Hernandez, who did the challenge and named my mother in her video.