February 20, 2008

Catching Up

The Strike is over, and nothing truly remarkable is happening on a day-to-day basis here. However, we recently re-established contact with the Nash family in Northamptonshire, UK, whom we haven't spoke with in nearly two years. They asked what's been going on in our lives.

This forced me to think back and how much has changed since 2006. I'm attaching the text of the email here, as a CLIFF'S NOTES version for the rest of you. I haven't posted a lot of the events of the past four months on the blog, but we've come to a better place with things now, so I think I'm ready to share it. Here goes:

NASHES! We though we'd lost you all in some cross-atlantic mail-forwarding accident. Needless to say, happy to hear that you are all well. There is much to catch up on with us since we last spoke ... April of 2006 I think.

We have to start with some bad news I'm afraid, because that caused a lot of other changes. Either our house in Flowery Branch was built over top of some ancient Indian Burial Ground, or an attempt at the Guinness Book of World Records' "Largest Herd of Black Cats" crossed our path, because we've had a crap run of luck lately. I'll try to summarize.

Melissa had some neck & Nerve issues later in 2006, 3 or 4 bone-spurs in her neck, which pressed on her spinal cord and had to be removed. She had surgery in November of '06 to remove them and fuse the 3 vertebrae that were affected. She bounced back from this in two months, but was having some balance issues and trouble with her hand and eventually, walking. We got the run-around from the doctors until December of 2007 when they diagnosed her with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), sometimes known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" after a famous baseball player that developed it.

Some info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis

It's very rare to see it in people under 50, so Mel having it at 34 is a 1 in a Million. (At those odds, we would have MUCH preferred to win the lottery.) Most people with the disease pass away in 3-5 years, but Melissa's symptoms lead the nurses to believe she'll be at the longer end of the spectrum on that estimate. She walks with a cane now and needs help with dressing, stairs and showering, but her mind is still sharp. The disease only affects the motor neurons, not brain cells, as Stephen Hawking (poster-boy for ALS) shows.

[Added: Oddly enough, even with this worst-case scenario diagnosis, it's a relief just to know what it is. Now we know what to expect, and there is a great ALS clinic at nearby Emory Hospital that is a godsend. She is participating in a Clinical Drug Trial for a drug that's shown some promise in early testing, as well as taking other medications to help with her symptoms. ]

We're living with her parents now, in Lawrenceville. We'd planned on just staying with them until we sold our house, but we're probably here for a long time now. I can help her some, since I work from home, but I can't fully take care of her and Matthew without help from her mother and father. Due to the Mortgage Crisis we're having in this country, the market is flooded with foreclosed houses now, and it's hard to sell the ours. The only bite we've gotten is from some jokers offering $40,000 less than the asking price.

Matthew is in Kindergarten now (Before 1st grade). He's happy, but the move and Melissa's illness have shaken things up for him and he's having some behavioral issues at school. He just turned six last week. He's happier here now, since he has lots of kids in the neighborhood to play with.

We've been keeping up with DOCTOR WHO and TORCHWOOD with some friends and are pleased with it. We like David Tennant and the new show very much.

They tell us to travel while we can, while Mel is still mobile, so we're actually going with a tour group to Tokyo, Japan in late May. She's always been fascinated by the Japanese culture, so this is one more thing to check off her "Things To Do" list. Revisiting England is also on that list, but due to financial constraints (and current travel eating up all my vacation days), that will have to wait until next year.

As far as what's new with me: I now have a short beard. That's about it.

Oh, and Melissa had the amazing fortune of finding a Nintendo Wii console last Christmas, and Matthew and I have been having loads of fun with that. In other news, we have a new cat named Stormy, which Matthew adores, and Melissa now a snake named Crispin. (Another "Thing to Do" checked off Mel's list.) Also in the attached pictures: Melissa and I were part of a group that costumed as the Chudley Cannons Quidditch team at DragonCon this year. (I was the coach.) The team ended up being an makeshift security squad for Matthew Lewis ("Neville Longbottom" from the Harry Potter movies) when he decided to stop by DragonCon's "HP Yule Ball" party, attended by a few hundred squeeing fangirls. Fun was had, and he autographed our Quaffle.
New Pet Stormy & Matthew Neville and the Cannons

I think that's the highlights. How are Alex and Liam doing? Is one of them driving yet? (Besides driving you mad?)

Kind regards,
- Chris & Mel


  1. YAY! Your blog is back!!! And, your Wii might get harder and harder to find.....Mwahahahaha!

    (Just kidding!)
    The Other Kris

  2. I love you guys. You need or want anything, just let me know.

    And bragging about how often you play with your Wii!