Sharing wellness and motivation for persons living with ALS, MND (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) their caregivers, family and friends! Because - - You CAN be WELL while living with ALS.
The Common Cold: Staying Positive In Spite of ALS (ALS Humor)
Now, where was I?
Right before the itchy eyes… the scratchy throat and…
that one big killer sneeze. Right before my energy hit rock bottom and I gave
up and rolled back under the blankets.
Oh yeah, it was last week, Monday…and then poof! The
whole week was gone.
Enough clues? You guessed right; this wasn’t a new evil
version of ALS robbing me of movement - - or frankly, even caring about moving.
This was a full-on case of acute viral nasopharyngitis, the “creeping crud” or,
as we all know it; the common cold. Yee-uck!
Gee, it’s been a whole
eight years since my last cold, doesn’t that count for something? I wondered
angrily while rummaging through our medicine drawer. Digging past a pile of
band-aides and an assortment of salves, creams and ointments, I finally found
the small plastic basket containing battered boxes of cold and flu medications.
Well, I guess there
really IS a downside to not having had a cold for the past eight years! Everything
had expired! Delirious I looked at the various dates: 2009, 2010, 2008 and…
began calculating. Could I, should I, mix-match
the weakened multi-symptom potions to create a new hybrid dose?
Fortunately, my husband suggested we chuck the whole lot
into the waste basket and he’d drive to the drugstore for fresh replacements.
While awaiting his return I lulled myself with random
Internet searches to find out exactly what the latest, greatest, best treatments
were for the common cold. What I discovered was that the status of modern
medicine regarding colds is nearly the same status we’re in with ALS. That is, the
medical community knows a tremendous amount about what the two conditions do to
the body, less about the best way to treat them, and nothing yet towards a cure!
According to the latest statistics, we catch a cold an
average of 2-4 times a year and they last from 5-9 days. For ALS, the newly
updated* lifetime risk is 1-in-300, and a person with ALS lives from 2-5 years
following diagnosis. Both have no “cure.”
I guess I got lucky
not having eight years’ worth of colds, unlucky being 1-in-300 and lucky to be
outliving my expiration date!
Even the so-called home remedies being touted online for
colds sounded eerily similar to those I’ve seen for ALS. There was Ginger,
Cayenne Pepper, Mustard, Coconut Oil - - secret ingredients, mixtures and
recipes that bring the entire spice aisle of the grocery store right into your
kitchen! One fellow with ALS swore that a daily application of Coconut Oil to
the bottom of his feet pulled all the toxins from his body. I sure don’t want to be around when he takes
his shoes off! In another post, a woman recommended onion juice mixed with
honey as a good remedy for children with a cough. Good luck getting a kid to eat THAT treat!
But in the end, over-the-counter medicines and home
remedies simply treat the symptoms. They don’t “cure” our cold - - our
body’s immune system kicks in and does that part - - generating antibodies that attack
the 200+ viruses that take up residence in our sinus, throats and lungs. In
fact, studies show that both traditional and non-traditional remedies work only
fifty percent of the time. What’s working during the other fifty percent? The
Seems that somehow, simply believing in the pill, drink
or syrup (even though there may be nothing in it) we get better - - we heal.
There is solid scientific evidence for the biology of belief and its opposite: the biology of stress. In past blog posts I’ve written
about Esther Sternberg, M.D., and her work using MRI scans of the brain to
track what happens and which areas light up when we think various thoughts. During
the Placebo Effect or, our expectation that something will heal; brain pathways
are activated releasing dopamine and opiate endorphins - - our brain’s own reward
system. At the same time brain chemicals are released that stimulate immunity. In addition, the folks doing research into
Positive Psychology - - how attitude influences our body’s health - - have
reached the same conclusions. The mind effects the body and the body effects
Pretty impressive stuff! But, we unfortunately still
haven’t figured out how to control or direct our brains towards intentionally
healing colds - - or curing ALS.
By now my husband walked in the door and I eagerly opened
the first box. Pulling out a flat package with ten little green capsules shaking like Mexican Jumping Beans in their own individual plastic bubble.
Lesson 1: It
is nearly impossible to open a vacuum-sealed bubble pack of capsules!
The package is tamper-proof, terrorist-proof and
customer-proof! Itty-bitty pull-tabs are only a decoration. Mere human fingernails
cannot scrape off the aluminum backing. My
husband jokingly suggested a blow torch, however we found that using a very
sharp knife to pierce the backing - - while, oh so carefully not puncturing the
little capsule inside, was the best approach. Heaven help little old ladies trying to do THIS maneuver!
Exhausted, I downed the medicine, grabbed a cough drop
and sat back down. That’s when I discovered…
Lesson #2: Positive psychology has entered the world of
Imagine my surprise to notice
little inspiring messages** on the wrapper of each cough drop! And why not? Why
not wait out the 2-9 days for my body’s antibodies to rally while enjoying the
placebo effect of a nice tasting cough drop bearing positive thoughts? Why not?
…Now, where was I?
* MNDA (Motor Neuron
Disease Association) & special thanks to Lee Millard.