Richmond Times-Dispatch : 2019-02-11

HEALTH : 19 : D1


HEALTH ••• SECTION D • RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH • MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2019 • RICHMOND.COM FROM PAIN, SHE FOUND RENEWED PURPOSE ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ After losing her husband to ALS, a nurse connects with a Stafford patient battling the same illness How does ALS work? Snider, to convince Scott that it would be too painful to watch someone else slip away before her eyes. “Emotionally, I felt it was the worst thing in the world for her at the time,” said Snider, who lived in Richmond but has since moved to Spotsylvania County. “It was as if she was backtracking rather than moving forward with her life, which is what we were trying to help her do.” Scott would not be deterred. There were times she was overwhelmed by the extent of care required by her patient, Richard Cole, a former Navy corpsman living in Stafford County. But there also were moments when she realized Cole and his wife had been through similar experiences as she and her husband. The patient and nurse found themselves talking, not only about end-of-life decisions, but also happy memories. Instead of being the worst possible situation for a grieving widow, it became the best way for the woman to find her place in a new world. “It was all part of our universe’s grand plan for me and him,” she said about Cole in early December. “He tells me how much he appreciates my compassion, my empathy and my friendship. I tell him there’s a reason he came into my life when he did. “Rick saved me,” she said. Others recognized Scott’s compassion, especially with a disease that hit so close to home. Last month, Maxim Healthcare Ser- BY CATHY DYSON The Free Lance-Star S usan Scott’s family feared that the loss of her husband, followed by her 500-mile move from outside Boston to Fredericksburg, had clouded her judgment. Scott had watched her spouse, Andy, die from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He was a physical therapist, a big, energetic man with the heart of a teddy bear, and those who knew him said he devoted his life to others. Of all the debilitating conditions he had treated, he often said he wouldn’t wish ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, on his worst enemy. “There’s no reprieve with ALS,” she said. “You don’t get these peaks and valleys, it’s just a steady decline everyday. That’s hard to watch with someone you love.” After his death, Scott decided she couldn’t stay, alone, in the house where the couple had raised their four children. She left New England for a Southern locale and had no idea why she picked Fredericksburg. She didn’t know a soul there. She took a job with a health care agency, where a supervisor noted her experience with ALS and asked if she would take on a patient with the same condition that had claimed her husband. Scott agreed, and her friends and family were distraught. They begged her sister, Linda ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. As certain areas in the spinal cord degenerate, it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region. Sporadic ALS, which is the most common form of the disease in the U.S., accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases and can affect anyone. Familial ALS, which accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all cases in the U.S., means the disease is inherited. In those families, there is a 50 percent chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease. SOURCE: ALS, Page D2 Dr. Google:

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