August 2015 – Anger. Guilt. Grief.

When the moment comes and the deck is cleared of all kids and other witnesses, occasionally I will indulge in an anger rant. In my head or in my car, in the car wash, into my pillow, in the hottest possible shower. It’s that stage I guess. I read that there is no straight line order to the stages of grief – we go back and forth through them all and hope (more…)

June 2015 – Medium starch, hanger

I think the hardest period is Mother’s Day through July 4th. These weeks are peppered with dozens of sweet memories, kid mile-markers, Father’s Day, Neil’s birthday, the “worst day ever” anniversary of the day we received Neil’s ALS diagnosis, and the anniversary of the day he and I met. I know the dates like the back of my hand and I have 26 years of life with Neil that were made more better than worse because (more…)

April 2015 – On Control

Someone said to us recently “You can’t control everything.” Well this certainly would have been a newsflash to my beloved Neil. He was what you might call, with love, a “control freak”. He preferred “control enthusiast”. Call it what you like, we actually believed we had this ALS thing under control. We had the tools, technology, space, vision, friends, family and courage… all we needed was time to prove that our journey with this thief ALS would be extraordinary. Even on his last night (more…)

March 2015 – Onward

I once heard that living with an ALS diagnosis in the home can best be described as a “hurricane”, and that solace comes from finding a rare and quiet space away from caregiving and managing the illness.  I am certain this is normal, and the reason why caregiving for seriously ill family members shortens the life of the caregiver by an average of 7 – 10 years.

That doesn’t describe my experience.

Believe me the winds kicked up regularly and there were hard times, sleeplessness and sore muscles in the 1,365 days (more…)

February 2015 – Breathing Lessons

When someone you love becomes seriously ill, you quickly become expert in the science and technology behind keeping them alive.  Or, at least your expanded vocabulary makes you sound a little smarter.  For example, I now can properly use the words “inspiration” or “expiration” as it relates to inhaling or exhaling (not just motivating or dying).  I know that the nose is the primary humidifier of the body and that humans are born obligate nasal breathers.  I know that (more…)

January 2015 – On Courage

My sister’s beloved husband passed away unexpectedly in December.  He was a good man, a loving husband, father, son, brother and uncle to Abby and Patrick.   This picture was taken about a year ago, when he challenged me to a hike at Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale, Arizona.  We made a great memory together, which is what Gregg loved to do.  He was only 61.

I say that he passed unexpectedly with admiration and a smile.  In fact Gregg (more…)

Suzanne’s List of Favorite Caregiving Tools/Gear – 2014

The caregiving journey for progressively degenerative muscle diseases like ALS is filled with lots of lessons learned. We work very hard to 1) maintain Neil’s independence, while 2) protecting Suzanne’s back, and 3) reducing stress for everyone. Along the way we have picked up some (more…)

November 2014 – “I feel sorry for you”

“I feel sorry for you,” said the second-grader from Patrick’s school when we attended an end-of-year concert last spring. Neil was in his wheelchair and at eye-level with this bold, empathetic boy as he loudly proclaimed his feelings.  Not sure where this was going, I stepped a little closer to hear the rest (more…)

April 2014 – LiveLikeLou is a promise

LiveLikeLou is not just a website or a fund or a party or a collection of catchy Facebook posts. Neil and I think of it as his new job, our family’s new purpose and a call to action to anyone that will listen. Neil gives me the credit for the name “LiveLikeLou”, but actually it was inevitable. After the diagnosis (more…)

October 2013 – There is no “I” in “ALS”

We are using a wheelchair now. We knew it was coming. Neil’s legs have been progressively weakening since this time last year. I remember the first time I saw him trip and fall. And the second time. Even the third. Then he started telling me about spills he took when he was out on his own. When a person with ALS falls they can really injure themselves because they can’t catch their bodies with balance or arm/leg muscles. They just crash – typically first to the knees and then (more…)