CHARLOTTE, NC: One of the keys to dealing with ALS is the ability to remain motivated while making sure to accentuate the positive. It is all about attitude. It’s a challenge that is frequently easier said than done, but it’s a must for the quality of life. Many experts believe that one of the keys to the longevity of physicist Stephen Hawking was his incredible ability to keep his mind active.
There are several things ALS patients can practice to ease the frustrations of their physical infirmities. For example, maintaining positive perspectives – to accentuate the positive- throughout the day and avoiding negative thinking is a must. It’s not always easy to do, but if patients focus on the positive while surrounding themselves with like-minded people it does simplify the process.
Personally, I have nicknamed myself the “Milkman” because if I am going to play the cards I was dealt with ALS, I plan to “milk” every ounce of assistance I can get out of the situation. Years ago, in 1944, Johnny Mercer wrote a song that Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters turned into a hit called Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate – Accentuate the Positive.
The lyrics say it all, particularly in the refrain which goes:
“You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”
Now nearly 75 years later, that advice still works. If a positive attitude sounds off-the-wall, then the next suggestion might seem as though it came from outer space.
Accentuate the Positive with color
Have you ever noticed how advertising, interior decorating and fashions are about color? Colors affect emotions. If you don’t believe it, just ask yourself how you feel during the dull gray days of winter when darkness comes early as opposed to the “long days journeys into the night” in summer.
Brightness evokes energy. Darkness tends to produce melancholic feelings and somber thoughts.
Wear bright colors and release all those hormones that make you feel better and give you a positive outlook on the world. You might be surprised at how the rest of the world responds to you in a positive way.
Accentuate the Positive: Keep moving every way you can
Stay on the go. This is another hurdle for many ALS patients due to increased limitations in their mobility. It’s not a game-ender however, merely a game-changer.
Many people are exercise crazy these days. So much so that hotels have installed exercise rooms, swimming pools, saunas, and steam rooms to attract guests. Just because someone with ALS may no longer be able to get to the gym, does not mean there are no physically therapeutic ways to exercise.
Rolling your head and shoulders before you get up is one technique. Another is breathing deeply since ALS eventually affects respiration in its victims.
Simple stretches of the arms and legs or other areas that have not been rendered useless by the condition are also useful.
In my case, after I get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, I often find myself adjusting the pillow, reaching for the covers and looking for a comfortable place for my arms. Sometimes it takes 15 or 20 minutes to accomplish the task, but while I am fighting the “bed monster” I keep telling myself that I am also exercising in the process.
Best of all, when I am finished, I have expended enough energy to induce sleep that would challenge Rip Van Winkle on his best day.
Accentuate the Positive and go outside, on a trip, or just to the mall
Of course, take every opportunity to get outside and breath in some fresh air whenever possible. If you are no longer able to drive, savor the idea of being a passenger. It is a joy to be chauffered everywhere you go. It leads to conversations and you always have a traveling partner. Even if just for lunch.
Travel has been my passion for nearly four decades. I have determined that I will continue to see the world until it is absolutely impossible. Just thinking about new destinations and places to visit not only keeps my mind active but further adds to the challenges of getting around with a handicap.
In other words, there’s absolutely no need to allow ALS to make you “take it lying down.”
One article I read suggested engaging in intelligent conversation. In this day and age, I’m not sure exactly what that means. I prefer the term “stimulating” rather than “intelligent” because there are so many variables.
In-depth, thoughtful discussions are yet another way to exercise your brain. It’s easy to do with the 24/7 news cycles of the modern world, though it’s not always easy to find someone to debate without getting into a shouting match.
If there is no one to spar with verbally, the internet is the world’s greatest source of ideas, opinions, and information.
Accentuate the positive by doing what you do
Each Wednesday I write a trivia column. Every week I am amazed at the twists my initial idea can take. I don’t always retain everything I read, but the fascinating thing is how certain topics inter-relate and produce far more questions than answers for my next conversation.
Discussing ideas and thoughts does not have to be antagonistic. Rather it can be a stimulus to further knowledge. It is a pathway to a greater understanding of the complexities of our modern world.
Finally, be thankful for another day well-lived on this little blue marble of a planet we call Earth. End each day with gratitude. Savor the joy of friendships, random acts of kindness and inspirational serendipitous moments that lurk around every twist in the road.
Accentuate the positive by evolving
ALS is not fun. But it is evolutionary in the sense that it does allow patients the time and opportunity to reflect upon the good things of life. Time to thank family, friends, and relatives for their support and to savor the joys that life has to offer. If nothing else, ALS creates an awareness that our time has limits. That we should live each moment as if it is our last.
Take it from the “Milkman”, life with ALS can be “carpe diem” (seize the day) or “crappee diem.” It’s up to the patient to decide.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up
Lead Image: By Binti Malu for Pexels.Com https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-a-sign-and-eyeglasses-on-table-1485657/