Coping Tools

Dear Friends & Family,

ALS is the biggest thing in our family life and has been since Curt was diagnosed on November 11, 2009. But as a family, we refuse to be defined by the disease. We fight back the thoughts, the tears, and the havoc it has wreaked on Curt’s body and on our family. We have chosen and work hard to laugh instead of cry, to cherish the time we have together and to live each day to the fullest.

Here are some of the “tools” (in random order) that help us cope:

A full calendar - We have always been a busy family; weekend trips, friends, sports, and family events kept us running. Now, more than ever, we need to stay busy. Although Curt gets worn out easily these day, we normally have at least one thing to do each day or evening. A full calendar gives us things to look forward to and fills our time with memory making moments.

Music - In the mornings while we are getting ready for the day Curt & I listen to music. Lately we have been enjoying Cheap Trick, Bob Seger, Metallica, Styx and of course Kenny Chesney. The home and backyard stereos play country or classic rock during the day. In my car, when I am alone, depending on my mood, I go from country to christian to relaxing spa music or to angry head banging rock music. Sometimes we turn the music really loud and just “rock out.” It’s hard to be sad when you are listening to loud music.

Prozac - It’s not something anyone really wants to admit to, but, Prozac has been an integral part of our lives since Curt was diagnosed. One of the symptoms of ALS is uncontrolled laughing or crying. In the beginning Curt would get emotional and be on the verge of tears daily. Sometimes the kids would get him laughing and he wouldn’t be able to stop. Prozac has helped smooth out the highs and lows. It has helped me through rough patches also.

Communication - Between talking with friends, journaling and updating the blog; it feels good to get it out. Whether we are happy, sad, scared or frustrated it always helps to share it. Thanks for listening and supporting us!

Prayer - Pray without ceasing. That’s what we do.

TV - We have never been big television watchers. But since we have more “down” time we have discovered some great shows. Modern Family and Cougar Town make us laugh and we love to laugh. I love to escape from reality by watching The Real Housewives of Wherever, their drama takes me away from my own. We enjoy sitting in our newly redecorated living room (thanks Wendy), with a warm fire in the fireplace, just watching tv.

Alcohol - When Curt was diagnosed, I vowed to not use food, alcohol or any other crutch to get through this. I can honestly say that we have adhered to this vow. However, alcohol sure helps take the edge off of those rough days. Everything in moderation.......

Laughter - It goes without saying, laughter is the best medicine!

Cussing - I have never been one to use foul language, in fact I used to look down on people who cussed.....until now. Since Curt was diagnosed, there’s nothing like throwing a sh**, d**m it, or a*s in my vocabulary. Using those words gives us an outlet to express strong human emotions we have never felt before. It really helps release the stress and emphasizes the realness of life.

Friends - If you know us or have been a regular reader of our blog, then you know that above all, it has been our friends that have helped us cope. We are the luckiest people in the world to have the most amazing friends in the world.

Speaking of friends.....we have had another amazing week full of activities. Cayden got his drivers license, YAY! On Friday, Curt and his sister Beverly spent the day together, they went to Irvine to meet brother Bill and visited the newly developing Orange County Great Park. They got to go up in the Big Orange Balloon which is 75 feet wide and boasts views of 40 miles of scenery. My Friday Friends celebrated Jaime’s birthday at a fun vegetarian restaurant in Redondo Beach and then we enjoyed a little bit of shopping and some delicious cupcakes. While we were at lunch, we were monitoring the progress (through photos and texts sent via iPhone) of Melissa in Texas who was in labor with her third baby. By the time lunch was over we cheered as the photo of baby Rose came through! Congratulations Pond Family!

Friday evening we had the pleasure getting to know a new family. Russell, Kristina and Mitchell (6) joined us in the backyard for drinks and snacks. Russell is 47 years old and has been battling ALS since October 2008. It was great to spend time with them and be able to relate on so many levels. Russell and Curt talked about the daily physical and emotional struggles they have. Kristina and I talked about the responsibilities of being wives, mothers and caregivers. We all got along great and a definite friendship has begun!

On Saturday, a big group of friends met at Anaheim Stadium for the Monster Truck Show. Everyone had a great time. On Sunday, Curt, brother Bill, Clarissa and Cayden went to Jawbone Canyon for a motorcycle riding day trip. Curt said it was like old times being in the desert again. Corbin was treated to the movies by Lauryn for Valentine's Day. Then I joined them at the Melanson home for dinner; we enjoyed grilled chicken and lemon asparagus in their backyard around the fire. Curt & I traditionally somewhat boycott Valentine’s Day. We feel that you should treat each other as if everyday is Valentine’s Day....and with Curt it is. :)

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Cayden can drive! Curt's truck is now Cayden's truck!

The Big Orange Balloon - Curt is up there!

Mike, Melissa, Noelle, Anna Kate and new baby - Rose Avery Pond

Monster Trucks

Jonathon, Bill, Beverly, Curt, Clarissa & Cayden

The Monster Truck Group

Clarissa, Cayden & friends at Jawbone Canyon

That little speck is Clarissa - go girl!

Cayden, Conner and Zach racing up the hill!

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