What Does ALS do to the Body, and at What Rate Does it Progress?
ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, gradually kills motor neurons in the victims’ brain and spinal cord. Throughout the course of these motor nerves being attacked, the strength of the muscle deteriorates. As the motor neurons die, the person is paralyzed body part by part. In a majority of people, the brain is spared, though, as are the senses (one can still hear, taste, see, feel, and smell as they did before ALS) bowel, bladder, and sexual function. Which muscles are affected when, and the rate of the progression varies from person to person. Back to What Is ALS?
Curtis’ right leg (quadriceps first), and right
arm (bicep first) were affected initially. Then his left leg, and left arm. The
deterioration of the muscles in his right and left hands followed. Then, ALS
affected his breathing. His ability to swallow, accompanied by his ability to
speak deteriorated next. At the time of his death, he could not move his legs,
or his arms, and he could not breathe on his own, or eat without the aid of a
feeding tube. He could not move his head forward and back, but he could still
move it side to side. He could also still speak softly, and with a slur.
He could manage a hint of a smile, but most of the muscles in his face had
deteriorated. But, his spirit shone through his eyes. He was alive, and tired.