CHARLOTTE, NC: It’s an enlightening exercise to read commentaries by other ALS patients to learn how they are coping with their individual approaches to the progressive nature of the affliction. Dagmar Munn came up with something called the “C.H.A.R.M. list” which she devised to help her during holidays when oftentimes it is easy to fall into a mood of despair by throwing self-indulgent “pity parties.”
After reading it, I realized that Munn’s Lucky C.H.A.R.M. list is good at any time of the year because of its positive nature.
Here’s the way Lucky C.H.A.R.M. works:
C = Clear Intentions & Expectations
Being up-front with yourself and those around you helps prevent possible misunderstandings and hurt feelings later on.
First, spend some time on your own to think about the activities you want to be involved in. Decide which ones are essential and which are not as important.
Then, share these with your caregivers and/or family. Strive for an open and honest discussion together. Take into consideration issues such as transportation, time of day, special accommodations, weather, and of course, everyone’s energy levels.
Time is perhaps the most essential aspect of the process because it not only affects you but everyone else in your sphere of assistance as well. Setting aside the times the patient needs to satisfy his or her goals is essential so that others can then adapt their routines accordingly.
Keep in mind that flexibility is critical since sometimes alternate solutions need to be found that will accommodate everyone’s schedule and lifestyle.
H = Humor Saves the Day
Even the best-laid plans can get muddled. People simply forget, weather intervenes, or cold and flu bugs surprise us at the worst of times. Try to find the humor in each situation. Be the first to laugh and encourage others to do the same.
Understand that family and friends are under their own stress levels just trying to make things comfortable for you. Laughing releases the tension all around and usually, the best memories are the funny ones.
A = Attitude Sets the Mood
Of all the limitations brought on by ALS, we still have the ability to choose our attitude. Be honest with yourself about your expectations for each situation. Choose to be positive, open, forgiving and loving.
Frequently, personal frustrations can affect a victim’s mood. It’s important to remember that others do not deal with the repetition of events that the patient does as part of his daily routine.
Though it is often difficult for the patient to express with tact and diplomacy the source of their frustration, it’s also important to be mindful that caregivers do have their own lives to live as well.
By the same token, it is just as important for non-sufferers to recognize that patients can sometimes become “trapped” in uncomfortable situations without being able to anticipate them in advance. Therefore the helper needs to focus on those potentialities before leaving the patient “stranded” by himself with no ready access to assistance.
R = Recovery Time
When pushed to the limit, even the best of attitudes can turn crabby. Our bodies and minds need recovery or downtime, especially as ALS progresses.
Patients need to know their own signs and symptoms of fatigue. Consider having a pre-arranged signal with your helper when you are in a social situation that lets them know when you need a break. ALS patients, and their caregivers must be aware that the affliction is considerably more tiring for them than it is for healthy individuals.
M = Mindful Thoughts & Action
Being mindful is the art of keeping our thoughts in the present moment while monitoring our body’s level of tension or relaxation.
Take a few seconds each day to drop your shoulders and breathe. It’s amazing how a few deep breaths can be a source of rejuvenation and relaxation.
ALS patients would do well to read and understand the message of Dagmar Munn’s “CHARM School” program.
Try it and you may just discover that “it works like a C.H.A.R.M.”
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 the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up
Lead Image: Courtesy The Food In My Beard – Lucky Charms Cheesecake Recipe – https://www.thefoodinmybeard.com/recipe/lucky-charms-cheesecake/