Jeanna Grammer lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is employed at a non-profit Hospice and feels so blessed in making a difference! Her true passion is being a voice for people with ALS by volunteering with her local ALS Association chapter and writing letters in her local newspaper.
My mom was diagnosed with ALS in May 2011. She literally lost her speech within 6 weeks of slurring her words. She was semi-retired but enjoyed her job and co-workers, so she still worked part-time at a hospital as an insurance biller. Bravery!
Unfortunately, she had to retire just two months later because she was unable to talk to insurance companies on the phone. She retired with over 25 years and the retirement celebration was fit for a queen! She wasn't sad that day; she loved seeing all her friends, co-workers, and family. She never lost her loud Italian laugh and it was heard many times at the celebration. Bravery!
Of course, she lived her life as she always did. ALS did not live her - she lived it! She still drove, enjoyed her hobby (shopping), went to church, and until she got her iPad she had paper at the handy. Bravery!
One year later she got her feeding tube. It didn't phase her, she did all her own feedings! She still ate for pleasure even as the food fell out of her mouth. This didn't stop her from eating out with friends and family, she just needed a towel. Bravery!
She hired a college student to help her with grocery shopping, doctors visits, etc. That didn't last long. She could manage, she told us three daughters. We were concerned but she chose bravery!
As her disease worsened she decided for herself she needed to go to a nursing home. After many conversations with her two daughters - one a social worker and the other an RN - she felt this option wasn't necessary for her at the time. Bravery! She chose her timing! Bravery!
Including the four months she was in the nursing home, the entire time she was sick she was concerned for others. Why? You ask. She was that way her entire life, she gave even when she didn't have anything to give. Bravery! She lost her mother when she was just two years old. She was raised by both of her Italian grandparents. Bravery!
When she became divorced and had to raise four children on her own with little or no money, their needs came first. Bravery! She was brave this entire journey. At the local ALS support group, she even spoke by way of her iPad, giving needed advice to other families. She knew no other way, as she has been brave her whole life. We know deep down she stayed brave for her children and grandchildren because she wanted to live!
She died in July 2013, the bravest lady I've ever met! But I might add all ALS patients are the bravest people I know!
Every May (ALS awareness month) I write a letter to the editor. I raise funds throughout the year, make donations to The ALS Association, and support our local walk-in October. I am writing my mom's ALS story, I hope to finish it soon. It is my life's goal to be a voice for those who don't have a voice.