I am Brad Hansen
living with ALS
I will never forget the actions of the ALS team that day. They were comforting and compassionate.
It started with left hand weakness and difficulty in grip strength. As a life-long athlete, I dismissed it as being out of shape or age related. This progressed from January 2022 through the spring. I visited the PCP in April, he referred me to a spinal specialist who did many tests including blood, X/rays and MRIs. While everything came back normal, he referred me to a hand surgeon.
By July 2022, my left wrist/hand finally stopped working. We were getting ready for a tendon transfer surgery when I developed foot drop in my left foot. By the time I made it to the pre-surgery visit, the hand surgeon stated that he couldn’t do surgery because none of the tendons or muscles even worked in the wrist, it was obvious that something bigger was in the background. Both the PCP and the Hand Surgeon were able to get me into see the Neuromuscular/ALS team at the local university hospital.
This appointment was on my birthday so It was supposed to be a happy day. My son had planned a birthday picnic for lunch.
We met with the team in the morning. After clinical testing reflex and walking, they scheduled an EMG later that afternoon.
After a wonderful birthday lunch, I did testing in the afternoon. I will never forget the actions of the ALS team that day. They were comforting and compassionate. 3 doctors pulled up chairs and sat with us. They confirmed that I did indeed have ALS. My wife and I were devastated. The doctors cried with us and were supportive. They spent hours with us which seems incredible these days.
What a gut punch!
As I write this, it’s been 9 months since diagnosis (1.5 years since symptoms). I have been on the 3 Rs for 9 months as well as joining a clinical trial now for 8 months. Besides left wrist and foot drop, I’ve experienced decreased diaphragm function since February 2023. Went from 90 to 35 in FVC. Daily I have “air hunger” but am using NIV during the night as well as sometimes during the day. In April, I had a PEG put in for precautionary measures. Am using it only for meds right now. This is a beast of a disease but I have a tremendous community holding me up and I feel blessed.