411 Focus

No one had seen it coming, and it was there, like an evil coward, and had targeted my niece!

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Too, too painful ... Lou Gehrig's disease

I’d heard the name before, in passing. I remember that I did, but not when. It meant little to me, a furrowed brow for a moment. I didn’t know the man with the name.

I knew he was a professional baseball player. I didn’t follow baseball. Besides, it was way before my time. When? I had no idea. It belonged to a faraway place.Where? I didn’t know. Nor did I seek to know. It was not a part of my world, and as huge as the world is, there is never the possibility of exploring more than a fraction of what it encompasses.

And, so, I went on my merry, and sometimes not so merry, way. I cannot even say I thought about it ever, though I’d heard the name… perhaps once or twice… maybe three times for good measure, but it had nothing to do with me.

Then, last year, that changed! It was real, and it had invaded, not my circle of acquaintances, not even my circle of friends, but my family! No one had seen it coming, and it was there, like an evil coward, and had targeted my niece! That’s when I became acquainted with this disease! That’s when it was important to me.

ALS is short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was discovered in 1869 by a French doctor named Jean-Martin Charcot. It is called Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the great professional baseball player who died of the disease at 38, two years after diagnosis.

The disease, as it did with Lou Gehrig, turns an active person into one completely dependent on others in a matter of months, with death occurring shortly thereafter.

This is what has happened to my niece, a beautiful, sweet woman, a year older than my daughter. She went from vibrant and independent to totally dependent, even to the point of having a hole put in her throat – in a matter of months, and it has broken my heart.

I remember her as a little girl frolicking with my daughter, getting in trouble with my daughter, and sharing summertime with my daughter, here in Gary, or in Mounds, IL. I remember “jumping” the little boy, my son’s friend down the street, for trying to get them to smoke, even though he knew, or should have, that I didn’t play that!

People always say stuff like, “He only takes the best,” some asinine effort at comfort, as if the griever ought to feel good, proud that one’s loved one was “chosen for the honor of dying early,” that pride that one has been “picked” outweighs the emptiness left for children, parents, and … aunts!

There is nothing I can do for her, but I have a sadness and, I must admit, some bitterness that, with all the hateful, dishonest, uncaring people in this world, a young woman, bubbling with kindness, her cup running over with sensitivity and generosity, could draw the lot of such suffering, then separation from all who love her, including three barely grown children who must spend the rest of their lives without her.

I am hoping that the money she and her friends and relatives raised to fight ALS will help scientists and doctors find a cure… and put an end to this horror visited upon people, especially those like my sweet niece … and I pledge to help!


Story Posted:07/16/2018

» 411 Focus

Add Comment

Name (Requierd)  
Comment (Required)  

View Comments