Recent ALS health lessons. Lesson 4: Monitoring other health issues.

  Being told by the neurologists that I either have a very slow case of ALS or an ALS mimic shifted my outlook in a number of ways. One was renewed engagement on other aspects of my health. After getting the initial ALS diagnosis in 2018, the idea of going to the dermatologist for a check up seemed completely pointless – why worry about skin cancer if I already had a terminal illness, right? And flossing my teeth to avoid gum disease seemed comically silly. But that equation changed with the possibility I might live longer than I initially thought. So last month I made an appointment with the dermatologist. And yes, you guessed it, it turned out to be a good idea, because they found melanoma on my ear. It has been surgically removed. I am told they caught it early and I am cancer free. But it served as a reminder that those of us with ALS need to stay on top of other health issues. There may be a new therapy just around the corner that can slow or stop ALS, or we may have slow progression. Either way, we can’t take advantage of an extended lease on life if we end up sick, or worse, from some other ailment we could and should have taken care of.   

I’m still not flossing, though…


Author: Ken Menkhaus

Professor of Political Science at Davidson College. Specialist on Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Interests include development, statebuilding, informal governance systems, peace and conflict studies, and political Islam. I also teach on philanthropy and the non-profit sector.

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