My Dad needed major back surgery due to scoliosis. All went well, however, he still could not stand up straight and it seemed to be getting worse. He was sent to the Philadelphia clinic for ALS and they confirmed the disease. We were all devastated. With a 3-5 year life prognosis, we were optimistic because my dad was in very good health.
A few weeks went by and he started having breathing problems. He did not have any of the other symptoms of ALS like muscle weakening or swallowing difficulties.
Reading all about breathing problems, we all realized that he was probably at the end of the disease without getting the muscle weakness or swallowing problems. We hoped against all odds that this was not so.
He started using a breathing machine that helped push air into him because his diaphragm was getting weaker. He seemed to be stable with that.
In June 2010, just 4 months after his prognosis, I left for an out-of-town conference. I asked my dad if he would be ok until my return. I had been going to their house almost every day to help my Mom. He said yes, he would be ok.
Well, on the 2nd day of my conference my sister called and said my father had collapsed from a heart attack and was barely alive. Here I was, several hundred miles away and I couldn’t be there. My father was not really conscious but he must have heard my sister talking to me on the phone because a few minutes after that, his fingers went blue and he passed away.
He was in good spirits when I left, so I never thought anything would happen.
What we didn’t count on was his heart attack.
My father was born a month early in 1935 and they thought he’d never live but a few years. He was happy and healthy until age 75!
In the hospital, my Mom asked my Dad to wiggle his toes if he could hear her, and he wiggled his toes. Unable to speak and appearing unconscious, I think he was hanging on to life until my sister got a hold of me. Once he knew I was on phone, he let go and slowly passed on.
The hospital set him up beautifully and with honor in a hospital bed and waited until I arrived back from my conference. They did not want me to see my father in the morgue. I will be forever grateful to Ephrata Community Hospital for their care and understanding.
Please consider walking with me or sponsoring me in memory of my father and all the other ALS victims. With your help, we will be able to make a difference in the lives of people affected by this disease. I encourage you to get your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers involved!
Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis.
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