Our mom, Marilyn, has recently been diagnosed with ALS. It still doesn't seem real to us and we are not beyond hoping, praying (and bargaining with God) that this may be something else unrelated to ALS. Mom has always been fiercely independent and has a house cleaning business and a dog sitting business. When these aren't keeping her busy enough (really?) she is working on her beautiful backyard "Garden of Eden." This is no surprise to us as we have always known our mom to work 60+ hours her entire life. She must have taken literally the old adage, "An idle mind is the devil's playground."
Last spring (about 6 months ago) I noticed that mom was slurring her speech. She seemed nasally and her voice had a different tone to it. I called my brother and asked him to check on mom to see if she was drinking during the day. Yes, that is what I thought. Mom usually had a cocktail after 5:00 in the evening while watching TV or before bed. I had never known her to drink during the day, but that is the only thing that crossed my mind.
Over the summer, she had a few falls. A couple times while working in the yard and once she had a pretty scuffed up face which she laughed it off to plain old clumsiness. Then, a month or so later, she fell off a ladder while cleaning someone's home. Then came the yearly family reunion. My cousin came up to me at 11:00 am and said, "Wow, your mom is drunk and it's not even noon!" I remember feeling embarrassed for Mom. I also felt angry and defensive, realizing then that our family wasn't the only ones that were noticing her voice.
Mom's primary physician, Dr. Boyens, began to set up specialty appointments for her. By October Mayo had confirmed our biggest fears... It was ALS.