When I sneeze, I
cannot hold my head up.
I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried!
But when I sneeze my head is thrown forward and down, my chin almost bouncing off my chest, as my neck collapses.
No matter how hard I try to resist or brace myself, it is inevitable. I snap back upright a split-second later, but sometimes
the damage is already done.
sneezed while walking across a room; I fell down.
I have sneezed while I was
brushing my teeth; I gave myself a minor black eye on the faucet of the bathroom sink.
I have sneezed while eating a meal; I knocked over my drink.
But this time…
Well, this time tops them all.
When we’re swimming (you see where this is going, don’t you?), I
am always very careful to keep my face out of the water because I cannot stop myself from breathing in when water hits my
nose. I love the buoyancy of the water, love feeling almost weightless, but I have no desire to snort a big lungful of chlorine
and…(ahem)...well, worse. So, I back-float, I bounce around, I play catch and throw diving sticks for the kids, but
I never, NEVER go under intentionally.
So yesterday I’m standing with Jim in four-foot-deep
water, cheering Zacky as he swims back and forth between us.
And all of sudden I feel a sneeze coming on.
wildly for something to grab onto, but I’m surrounded by water. I catch a quick glimpse of Emily surfacing nearby, and
I seize her shoulder with my left hand to brace myself so I won’t go under.
Before I can take any
other evasive actions, it is upon me. I sneeze.
I instantaneously throw my head forward and down.
A perfect face-plant on the surface of the water, drenching my face and bangs,
filling my nose and mouth.
And, just as fast, I raise my head, letting the water stream down my face before
opening my eyes.
Jim is laughing.
Jim is really laughing. Jim is laughing a deep, full-bellied
laugh—one that’s usually reserved for Zacky when he has done something exceptionally cute.
I blink and wipe
water away a few times. Yep, Jim is still laughing.
In fact, forget Zacky. I cannot recall seeing Jim laugh
anywhere close to this hard since we were at the Cubs
game when Aramis Ramirez took a pop-up off his forehead. And even that isn't close.
Meanwhile, my nose
is burning and I'm coughing and sputtering.Thankfully, it happened so quickly, I didn't actually take in too much
Now that I've had a few seconds to recover I find I’m laughing almost as hard as Jim is. I'm having
a hard time breathing, not because of the face-full of water, but because I can see it all in my mind's eye, and this
must be one of the funniest ALS side-effects I have ever experienced. But even though I'm okay and I'm laughing
now, I am a little mad, too.
Mad at Jim for laughing at my misfortune? Mad that he would laugh at my ALS-induced
water ballet? Mad that instead of rescuing me, my Superman is ridiculing me?
see immediately that I was in no danger, which is why he is able to laugh. My heroic husband would save me in a heartbeat,
if I actually needed saving. And he's not ridiculing his disabled wife, not when we laugh together at the many, many crazy
situations that ALS has introduced into our lives.
No, I'm just chagrined that no one got this on
video. That eight seconds on tape could have paid for this vacation plus several more! We have seen the videos of
a little kid riding a tricycle off the edge of a deck and a dog jumping on a trampoline, and Jim assures me they would
be poor second-place finishers to my ill-timed sneeze.
We'll be at the pool Friday. I can't
promise anything, but, just in case, charge up your video camera!