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Living with ALS: The similarities between ALS and coronavirus

Written By | Mar 29, 2020

Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels

CHARLOTTE, NC: As the coronavirus continues to plague the world with no foreseeable end in sight, those of us who have been stricken with ALS can empathize wholeheartedly. In a small sense, the world is getting a sample of what ALS patients endure each day with one major exception. Most people have not lost any physical attributes such as the ability to use their hands and/or arms, walking, talking and the like.

Just for comparison sake, here are six ways in which ALS and coronavirus are similar.

Social Distancing

We have been germ-conscious since my diagnosis with ALS. Not to the extent of awareness we are using with coronavirus, which has taken our awareness to a higher level, but just exercising more caution.

Stress, ALS and Coronavirus

Dealing with a terminal, progressive disease on a daily basis brings an inherent life of stress. While COVID-19 has increased our stress, the increase may not be as exponential for us as it is for people who are suddenly dealing with the realization of life’s fragility.

Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

Desperation for Effective Treatment

As the government fast-tracks vaccines and testing for COVID-19, many in the ALS community feel the same way about therapies in clinical trials. Truthfully, it’s a numbers game. Coronavirus is highly contagious affecting a rapidly increasing number of people. ALS is not. It’s only natural for someone with a particular ailment to focus upon the one that affects them the most.

Living with the uncertainty of ALS and Coronavirus

Since ALS manifests itself differently in everyone, it’s impossible to make accurate decisions while attempting to live life as normally as you can. There’s a similar uncertainty with a pandemic.

Unlike a natural disaster after which we immediately start picking up the pieces, COVID-19 doesn’t have an end date. The world is in limbo, unable to make long-term plans as we wait for the other shoe to drop.

Obsessing over Numbers

People want answers; How long will it take? When will it be over? How many will get sick? The fact is that nobody knows for sure just yet, so the speculative responses run the gamut. Having a definitive deadline is key to being able to establish an individual plan of attack.

With each passing day, the world becomes more and more anxious, hoping that at any given moment the ugly viral threat of COVID-19 will be declared a part of history. For ALS victims, that same hope exists but is in far less abundance.

There is still good in this ALS and coronavirus world

Typically with national disasters, whole communities rally together in an effort to bounce back as quickly as possible. Coronavirus, on the other hand, while similar, appears to be having a more durable, life-altering effect. Will shaking hands disappear as an acceptable societal greeting? Will some businesses change marketing methods or continue as before? How will cruise lines, airlines, and hotels adjust?

With sequestration, there seems to be a sensation of the turn of the 20th century Victorian values that have arisen.

We look at what we still have and realize how blessed we are to live in the United States.

In all honesty, boredom can breed creativity.

Life seems a bit slower. People are strolling through their neighborhoods. Gardening. Riding bikes. Mowing lawns.

According to the experts, warmer weather will take its toll on COVID-19. Yesterday in my hometown we enjoyed a magnificent low humidity 85-degree day. For the first time since we installed a ramp to our back yard last fall, I went out and sat on the deck.

It was calming to be splashed by the warmth of the sun and hear birds singing. Gentle breezes wafted through the air. Rainbows of colorful flowers reached toward a cloudless blue sky. The soft silence of spring seemed to have a sound of its own.

Rebirth and renewal: The songs of spring helping us through trying times

I closed my eyes and in that serene darkness, I sensed that I could hear those invisible enemies quietly falling to my deck. (Pooof. Pfft.) It was a hopeful, delicious (Ffiii) imaginary sound. (Pooo. Swooosh.)

There was optimism (Fffewff) in those radiant warm beams of (Pflash, Swaff, Poosh) sunlight. I slowly turned my power wheelchair around feeling no remorse that I might crush any coronas that had survived their death spiral in the process.

Hopefully, our recent surge of compassion will continue far beyond the statute of limitations for coronavirus. Difficult situations often draw people together, even if only temporarily.

In unanticipated ways, COVID-19 and ALS have focused our minds on what is truly most important — caring and love.

About the Author:

Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is 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 (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Read more of Bob’s journeys with ALS and his travels around the world

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Lead Image Photo by alexandre saraiva carniato from Pexels

Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.