Battling ALS and the ‘Last of the Mohicans’
CHARLOTTE, NC, January 29, 2017 – Before you think I am a complete idiot, I can explain and when you hear the explanation, I bet you won’t think I’m so dumb.
The other day I was listening to the stereo in my office and I noticed that one of the speakers wasn’t working. Though the sound was fine, it was going to drive me crazy because I knew it wasn’t working properly.
Slowly I lowered myself to the floor to fiddle with the wires to re-establish the connection. After several minutes without success, I decided to get up and wait for help, forgetting that I could not stand up without assistance.
Forty-five minutes later, I was a sweaty mess having rolled, twisted, turned and rocked my way around the room attempting to get to my feet. Finally I called my son who came several minutes later. In the interim, I took a nap on the floor.
Here’s where the stupid part comes in. You ask, “Why did you get on the floor when you knew you wouldn’t be able to get up?”
I have two answers. The first is that there is virtually no pain with ALS, so unless you attempt to do things that used to be routine tasks, you forget. I simply forgot until I was on the floor that I was down for the count, realizing “Oh hell, now what am I going to do?”
Here’s the second answer that absolves me from the looney ward. How many times when the electricity has gone out in your house after a thunderstorm have you flipped the switch to turn on the lights or hit the remote to start the TV as a natural reflex?
See, now it makes sense.
By the way, if you want to experiment with what ALS is like, try laying down on the floor and getting up without using your arms. It’s an excellent lesson in frustration.
Later in the week, though Donald Trump is now president, I participated in one of Barack Obama’s early programs called “Cash for Clunkers.” It was not pleasant and I do not recommend it.
While coming home to drop off some papers after a visit to the Veteran’s Administration, I tripped on the front step and fell forward. Without being able to catch myself, I hit the edge of the bricks by the front door and opened an 8-inch laceration on top of my head.
Naturally, I had left my phone in the car since I was coming right back, but now I was forced to get to the car to call for help with blood streaming down my face.
After an ambulance ride, and one short fainting spell, we arrived at the hospital where the doctors and nurses put Humpty Dumpty back together again with 20 stitches.
It was not something I particularly wanted to see since I have a strong aversion to my own blood, but the EMT described it as having tried to “scalp” myself. I explained to him that my paternal grandmother had been a full-blooded Mohican and that I may have come by “scalping” techniques naturally.
The sewing procedure took approximately 25 minutes and all I could think about was that I was participating in some sort of human quilting bee.
As the process wore on, it took on more of macabre “Frankenstein” image. To which I promised myself if the doctor shuffled his feet and had a hump I was going to opt out of any further needles to the head.
When the process was completed, a nurse came in to wipe away the clotted blood from my matted hair and wrap a bandage around my head.
It was at this point that I could see myself jumping off the gurney and limping out of the room with a fife and drums.
With my daughter and my wife sitting in the room observing the “quilting bee,” I was told not to look to the right to see the pillow where I had been resting my head. That was the wrong thing to say, of course, because now I was immediately going to turn to see what they were talking about.
Actually, I was able to view the bloody pillow with my peripheral vision, but since I could not see it full on, I, for some odd reason, thought that the huge spot was a picture of a rose. OK, so maybe I was delirious.
I left the operating room under my own power, only to get lost looking for the parking lot. With my head well wrapped, it was difficult to decide whether I looked like mummy, a swami or somebody with a horrible toothache.
By the time I got home, however, I was fully convinced that I am now officially the “Last of the Mohicans.”
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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