No Regrets, that is how everyone should live life. “Do what is meaningful, with passion and that which will give you purpose,” encourages Debbie SaBell whom 2 years ago lost her husband, Dave SaBell much too soon to Lou Gehrig’s Disease also known as ALS.
Debbie and Dave SaBell were living their dream life in this next chapter of their lives; they were best friends and inseparable. They were introduced to each other by Debbie’s middle son and his wife. While it may sound cliché, it was love at first sight. Lots of laughter and romance. Neither one would ever believe that this blissful unity would be cut short by something that Dave had been doing his whole life; working out.
“What started out as a documentary on injury and the onset of ALS because of my husband’s injury at a gym when a pin came out on a butterfly machine has now resulted into a television mini-series of my granting terminally ill adults their last wish, with the first episode focusing on the life of Dave and I,” tearfully smiles Debbie. “I took my husband on an incredible amount of “last wish” trips over the 4 years after he was diagnosed. I wanted him to die having seen all of the things that meant a lot to him so that when he got close to the end of his journey, he wouldn’t have to wish that he had gone and done the things that he was interested in.”
“At the onset of ALS the symptoms may be so slight that they are frequently overlooked. With regard to the appearance of symptoms and the progression of the illness, the course of the disease may include the following:
• Muscle weakness in one or more of the following: hands, arms, legs or the muscles of speech, swallowing or breathing
• Twitching (fasciculation) and cramping of muscles, especially those in the hands and feet
• Impairment of the use of the arms and legs
• “Thick speech” and difficulty in projecting the voice
• In more advanced stages, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and swallowing
The initial symptoms of ALS can be quite varied in different people. One person may experience tripping over carpet edges, another person may have trouble lifting and a third person’s early symptom may be slurred speech. The rate at which ALS progresses can be quite variable from one person to another. Although the mean survival time with ALS is three to five years, many people live five, ten or more years. In a small number of people, ALS is known to remit or halt its progression, though there is no scientific understanding as to how and why this happens. Symptoms can begin in the muscles of speech, swallowing or in the hands, arms, legs or feet. Not all people with ALS experience the same symptoms or the same sequences or patterns of progression. But, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis are universally experienced.” (This information was quoted and taken directly from the ALS Association website. For more information about the facts and symptoms of ALS visit www.alsa.org)
Debbie acknowledges that the most difficult challenge regarding ALS or other diseases “is awareness for terminally ill people and their care-giver’s. It is a tough job. It’s not fair when a person’s life is taken, especially from faulty equipment. It’s not fair for the person afflicted or the person who ends up with their life changed as well, which is usually a family member, in this case me, I was the spouse.” Debbie stops for a moment, wipes the tears away from her eyes, smiles ever so slightly and continues, “I closed my company, cashed out all of our investments trying to get “someone” to fix my husband! Dave dying was not an option for me in the beginning. As the caregiver, I virtually had no life for 6 years due to Dave’s illness.”
“I always say, I can tell you as many rewards as well as heart-ache to this happening in our lives. The incredible support from friend’s and all of the professional’s involved that made such a difference in our lives, from the incredible people at the ALS Association who from the beginning to the end were there for both of us in so many ways I can’t even count them!, “ a smile glimmers from the corners of Debbie’s mouth. “ The member’s of my church that cared for me and Dave through this incredible journey. There was so much support from Denver Hospice, from bringing in a harp to play incredible soothing music to the level of care and love they showed us.”
“The bravery Dave showed in his battle with ALS has been an inspiration to me…something that most people don’t get to be a part of. It was truly an honor for me to witness his strength and courage as he fought this terrible illness; an illness that actually ended up adding another beautiful dimension to our marriage. Caring for him every minute of every day brought us even closer as we shared our love on every level…from physical help to spiritual sharing. It was the most touching of my life experiences.”
It is important to understand that Debbie also believes that this event, as tragic as it is and has been to her family and life; she truly believes that she has come full circle.
“I am a facilitator for care givers. I help folks afflicted with ALS learning about the programs that will help them get through their journey,” states Debbie. “Remember your work is just a job. Live life because you never know when it’s going to be changed or taken away from you. Dave was my love, my husband and my greatest influence.”
Get involved. There are two ALS Walks to Defeat ALS in Colorado coming up soon. The 1st walk in Colorado is this Saturday, September 13th, 2014 in Denver City Park:
WALK CHECK-IN: 9:00 AM
WALK STARTS: 10:00 AM
LOCATION: City Park
The 2nd Walk is in Fort Collins, Sunday, September 21, 2014:
WALK CHECK-IN: 11:00 AM
WALK STARTS: 12:00 PM
LOCATION: CSU Oval
“More than just a few-mile trek, the Walk to Defeat ALS® is an opportunity to bring hope to people living with ALS, to raise money for a cure, and to come together for something you care about. The Walk to Defeat ALS® is The ALS Association’s biggest annual event, which raises funds that allow our local chapters to sustain care services and support research for much of the next year.” (this information was taken directly from the ALS Association Walk to Defeat ALS)
Understand that we all have an opportunity to take action in life situations that are occurring not only in our lives but the lives of others. Debbie SaBell is working closely with producers and networks to see that the lives of terminally ill adults and their families are forever changed; no regrets. “This is my hearts work now,” smiles Debbie.
Should you have questions about the symptoms or how to assist in the fight to defeat ALS visit www.alsa.org, or to learn more about Dave visit www.DaveSabell.com or contact Debbie directly at [email protected].
Thank you for the opportunity to tell your family’s story Debbie. Be Involved. There are all sorts of organizations that need volunteers and full-time assistants in helping to assist in the fight against terminal disease.