• ALS and Pneumonia Conspiring to Make Things Tougher

    by Cathy Speck

    Hi ho hi ho, it’s back to bed I go.

    My pneumonia has gotten worse, and my voice is fading. I do, however, have hopes that my voice will improve a bit. The pneumonia is more complicated and worrisome.

    I was quite excited about going to the Davis Independent Film Festival last weekend to watch the “Speckumentary,” on the big screen. But the Friday before the film fest, I had a doctor’s appointment and more x-rays, and I was kindly but firmly advised not to mingle in public. Hmmm there’s gotta be a joke there.

    So, I stayed home all weekend. I didn’t mope around, ’cause that would make everyone miserable. Instead I just looked in the mirror, made faces and cracked myself up. That was all the energy I had. But we did have nice visits from sister Peggy on Sunday, and “A Happy Squirrel fading Day” on Wednesday with sister Mary Pat. Keep those visits comin’. My pneumonia/fading voice/ALS are not contagious.

    Today we went back to the doctor to discuss the lab and x-ray results. The pneumonia is getting worse, not better. I was not surprised by this news.

    I know how this story goes, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to “color inside the lines.” My health has taken a bad turn. I have “progressive” pneumonia to keep the progressive ALS company consistently. This way, they don’t even have to text each other to make play-dates.

    We still don’t know if it’s bacterial or viral. I had been on two powerful antibiotics. Today I was given a 10-day supply of Doxycycline Hyclate, which is the third antibiotic they’ve tried.

    If this still doesn’t kick the “L” out of pneumonia (10 years ago, there was an “L” in pneumonia, and now it’s making a comeback), then it must be viral. Either way, the knife in this road is increasing the speed of the ALS progression. I hope to hit some speed bumps to slow it down PDQ.

    For those of you who find my “diversional humor” difficult to decipher, the pneumonia is typical for “later stages of ALS,” and it sometimes is indicative of… well? Hmmmm… We shall see what we shall see. More plainly: Having pneumonia and ALS is bad. Having ALS and pneumonia that’s getting worse, rather than better is very bad.

    I feel much worse than I look, Sometimes I think people expect to see me bedridden, with a thermometer in my mouth. But other than my hair being un-coiffed, the occasional oxygen mask, and my muscles’ photo on the back of milk cartons (Have you seen me?) I still turn a few heads.

    I’m thinkin’ this is a good thing. I know/understand that, in general, people are uncomfortable when they see others suffering. As everyone knows, I’m a social butterfly, not an isolated moth. So, I’ll keep my smiley face power “on” and keep my water glass half-full.

    In the meantime, I trust that you all will keep on smiling, laughing, staying safe and surround yourselves with a healthy glow….

    Cheers & Chipmunks…
    and LOVE…


    PS: I do like visitors, and more than one at a time is good, that way I don’t have to tell “my story” over and over again. My doctor says to limit it to half hour visits a couple times a day. But I think we can lengthen those if I talk less and we take little breaks, etc, blah blah, or you can come over and read to me. Or we can just sit and read to ourselves, or watch funny movie.

    Also, if anyone wants to Skype, we can do that. My laptop has a camera, and I also have a camera to put on your PC, which I’m happy to lend to whomever wants to visit me face to face without being “in person.” And April Kamen can keep making those super fun films that we put on YouTube, or FB, or my “blong,” www.cathydyingasliving.com

    You can check out some of the mini -films on YouTube, just type “Cathy Speck” in the search line.

    • I’m praying for your health, Cathy, and inspired by your good nature and humor. God bless you.

      • Jesse

      • April 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm
      • Reply

      I love your sense of humor. Pneumonia is no good, let him know you want to break up. J

    • Cathy,
      Next time you want to go to the thearter let me know and I will drill a hole through the wall so that you don’t have to mingle. I was going to drill one into the lady’s room anyway so what is one extra hole. Very easy but if you get caught, tell them David Lacy did it with his friend David Weinshilboum.I would like to come and visit but they won’t let me play with all of the knobs and gadgets on the med equip. Also I wouldn’t have much to say after I ate all of your lunch-except the vegs-you can have those. Look forward to your next entry in your life adventure. I would like to try that ox. mask thingy.

      • Judy

      • April 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm
      • Reply

      You’re an inspiration, Cathy. Thank You.

    • Hey Cathy, I so enjoy your writing, it is a privilege to see the world through your eyes. I hope that the antibiotics finally help and soon I will be enjoying that respite with you as well.

      • Kathleen

      • April 18, 2011 at 7:49 am
      • Reply

      Cathy~how strong and adventurous you are. You remind me of my friend Susan whose mind power over illness never caved in. I so admired her and she taught me much. I pray you better health days soon after the April rains helping the flowers bloom.

    • your sense of humor is astounding, your vulnerability, life changing.
      know that you make a difference in the world, you do. so much grief to be had by so many. the ability to roll with your destiny and continue to find things to love and be grateful for makes for a miraculous journey. you are certainly in my thoughts and prayers

    • Hang in there, Cathy! I’m so glad you are still able to write! You still have so much to share!

      • Norbie Kumagai

      • April 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm
      • Reply

      Hello Cathy!!! I Enjoy Your Humor!! Let Me Check With My Friend Jenna Templeton To See Her Schedule And Perhaps Pay You A Visit… (((HUGS))) Norbie

      • Tracy

      • April 19, 2011 at 10:06 am
      • Reply


      Your sense of humor and grace in the midst of your illness is such a wonderful example for us all. You are truly one of my idol’s in life…

    • I hope you are getting better and the third antibiotic is the one that works. Love your writing and your sense of humor even with ALC and pneumonia.

    • Warm thoughts being shot into the universe, to rain a shower of love on you. No umbrella necessary.

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