What is MND/ALS?


What is MND/ALS?
MND/ALS is characterised by progressive degeneration of the motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The motor cells (neurones) control the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, breathe, and swallow. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. Symptoms may include muscle weakness and paralysis, as well as impaired speaking, swallowing, and breathing. In most cases, it does not affect intellect, memory or the senses. Progress is relentless and generally rapid, with a life expectancy of between 2 and 5 years from the onset of symptoms. There is no known cause and there is no known cure. See links on the right for further information.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

MND, NIV & DNR!

I’ve been rather slack of late as I’ve had quite a few emails and messages on Facebook from friends asking how I’m getting on with things and haven’t replied as yet. So rather than reply individually, which will take me all day, here’s the latest developments!
It’s been about 6 weeks since I had my peg tube put in, and after a couple of up and down weeks getting used to it, things seem to be levelling out a bit now. My daily diet consists of a 1.5 litre bag of liquid multi fibre and protein and this is fed by a pump through my peg tube. The feed has to be connected for approx 12 hours per day which can be challenging but I’ve worked out a rather good timetable. I have started to gain some weight using the peg finally which is great even if only small amounts at a time. I no longer can eat or drink through my mouth, the best I can manage without choking is a few small sips of juice at a time, just to get some flavour. 
I can barely talk anymore either, despite trying my hardest but that only wears me out and makes me breathless and tired in the end. I do have up and down days where my speech can be a bit clearer but generally you will probably catch only a word or two so I try to use my text to speech apps on my iPhone / iPad when I can. It can be frustrating at times but I’m getting used to it. 
As MND is a muscle wasting disease, I’ve recently found my diaphragm weakening which supports the lungs and breathing amongst other things. With a weakened diaphragm it can be hard to cough up anything from the lungs (liquid, mucus, etc) which could then lead to a potentially life threatening chest infection. Even a simple cold or flu could be fatal! I have a rather nasty machine I hate using called a cough assist machine which blows air into the lungs to expand them then sucks all the air & any gunk in the lungs out! 
Last week I was also given an NIV (Non Invasive Ventilation) machine which I’m supposed to sleep with on every night. The NIV is supposed increase the oxygen levels and help exhale unwanted carbon dioxide. It also takes some of the effort out of breathing at night as the chest muscles don’t have to work as hard & helps ease breathlessness! So far I have only managed one night with it on for 7 hours as it’s hard to get used to. A work in progress at the moment!
My right arm is still useless and three and a half fingers on my left hand still work. My legs still work but are noticeably skinnier and quite wobbly on my feet now. If we go out now I get Mum to bring a fold up wheelchair as I can’t walk very far without feeling exhausted! On 22nd September I will be getting my motorised wheelchair delivered so looking forward to whizzing about at 2mph but need to figure out how and where to get a good deal for a motability disabled car so we can get out to places, sadly can’t just chuck the motorised wheelchair in the back seat!
Other than that, mentally feeling fine, happy, smiling as always, although filling in a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form was a bit of a surreal experience! Lol! Last time I posted an update there were a few comments about how ‘inspirational’ I was. It’s really not about that, and I’m not looking for compliments or praise, just wanting to update friends and family who may want to know the latest. When faced with challenges in life, any challenges, you have two choices. You can sink or you can swim. I just chose to swim.