Sarah Lysne: The joy of being strong

Published 6:43 pm Friday, April 29, 2022

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Just typing the title of this column makes me feel better. You might think it is an odd title written by someone who has ALS, but let me explain.

From the onset of my ALS, my hands, arms and torso have been the most compromised by muscle weakness. My legs are strong, but the weakness in my upper body causes me to be unable to walk alone.

Most days my spirit is strong too. I try to count my blessings. But, one day last week, I just didn’t feel strong at all. I had put off doing my exercises for a few days,and I felt physically weak. I was anxious for the weather to get nice, so it would be easier to go places. I missed being out and seeing people.

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Late that afternoon, I received an unexpected phone call. The call was from a new friend whose relative has ALS. She does not live in Austin, but we have been able to keep in touch and share things that have helped manage the disease. At the end of the phone conversation I felt lighter. It always helps to talk to someone who truly understands your situation. In just 10 minutes she had made me feel emotionally strong again. The phone call was a reminder of how much we need others. We were not meant to stand alone, especially on difficult days.

That night, I slept well. The next day I realized that getting a good night’s sleep helped me have the energy I needed to exercise.

I told another friend that I only exercise because I am afraid I will become weaker if I don’t. After I admitted this my friend said, “You need to give yourself credit for the emotional strength it takes to do those exercises.”

She was right. The arm exercises are extremely difficult physically and emotionally.

I have to accept that there are some days that I won’t feel strong, but with perseverance I will continue my work to stay strong.