Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An insect model for ALS

(It's been 18 months since the day I was diagnosed.)

In the summer of 1983, my job was to work for the university housing office, cleaning, painting, moving furniture, doing odd jobs and watching out for university property. One benefit of this was living rent-free in the dorm. This meant that I snuck in some of my chosen friends, such as Ronolulu, so that they could also spend the summer in the dorm. One day they told us on the crew that they were going to bomb the building with pesticides to get rid of the throngs and throngs of roaches that inhabited the place. I wish I remembered the specifics, but if I recall correctly, when we asked about safety, they told us it would be safe to go back in the building after about a day. I also don't recall if they told us to stay elsewhere for that day, but I know for certain that they didn't enforce any such ban, nor did they provide us any alternate lodgings. Anyway, there we were, after the pesticide application, living and eating in the dorm, every surface sticky with the pesticide, the persistent bug-spray smell everywhere. I for one wondered if it was still safe. But I decided to ignore the concern, because it was an inconvenient one. The only person I am still in contact with who was there that summer is Ronolulu. He's got health problems, but those predate the dorm days. I've also got health problems, as some of you might know. The roaches seemed to have been inconvenienced, as they emerged writhing from their hideouts. I remember watching one as I ate. It was doing a cockroach yoga on the table in front me me, stretching and twisting, falling over, but getting up. We remarked that the roaches didn't seem to be dying, or if they were, it was taking a very long time. I recall thinking after the summer was over that the pesticide bomb had probably been ineffective. I didn't see any dead roaches, other than the ones I killed.

Twenty years later and I came down with ALS. Coincidence? I don't know. But, other than wishing I had avoided the dorm altogether after the application of bug spray, I would not trade away anything else that happened that summer. It was a great one.

Right grip is 94 pounds (85, 80, 94), left leg balance is 9.12 seconds, and inhale volume is 4400 mL.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by