Local couple live through Lou Gehrig's diagnosis
Sep 4 2006 7:21PM
Muscular Dystrophy disorders come in several forms.
The hope from today's telethon is to get closer to finding a cure.
But until then, the money raised will help local families who struggle with day-to-day life.
Tonight, meet a Bismarck couple living with Lou Gehrig's Disease.
(Sound): dog growling... "Oh, be nice."... music under... dog growls.
(Julie Cronin, KX News): 56-year old Greg Norman lived a normal, healthy life before May of last year. That's what he and his wife Audrey always thought. But little did they know, the nerves that connect the brain to the muslces were dying in Greg's body. Lou Gehrig's disease was slowly setting in.
(Greg Norman, Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease): "What happened is my foot started dropping, and I was having trouble with my ankle."
(Cronin): Weeks went by, but Greg's ability to hold up his ankle on his own only got worse. So, he saw his doctor. And when the physician noticed that the muscles in Greg's legs were twitching, Greg was referred to a Neurologist.
(Greg): "He was doing an EMG, where they put a needle in and test your reflexes of your muscles with electricity. And he said, 'Just a second. Lift up your shirt.' And he looked at me and I was having them all over my body.... little twitches. And I never felt them."
(Cronin): But those little twitches were a sure sign of Lou Gehrig's Disease. Greg was losing control of his muscles. He was given 3-5 years to live. And then, for a moment or two, Greg lost control of something else... his emotions.
(Greg): "Well, when I first took it, I was devestated. I didn't know what to think. I kind of went blank at the doctor's office, and real upset. It lasted about 2 to 3 weeks.
(Audrey Norman, Greg's Wife): "You're just so numb, you just don't... there is no feeling."
(Sound): music full
(Audrey): "He just said if there's anything you want to do you need to do it, you need to get everything in order and stuff. Then we both went home and went on the internet. And of course, that first weekend I think I bawled the whole weekend, but then we started reading more and finding out more stuff. There's people that have lived 20, 30 years with this."
(Cronin): With devastation often comes determination. Greg and Audrey had already lost control of so much. But they were determined to take back control of the one thing they knew they could.
(Greg): "We were upset about it, and we got talking and we talked a lot together and what's going to happen. And we thought... we're going to get another diagnosis."
(Cronin): And so a differnt doctor... but the same result.
(Cronin): It's been about 16 months since Greg received the news that he had Lou Gehrig's disease. As time goes by, Greg loses more and more of the ability to control his muscles.
(Audrey): "Usually in the mornings I have to help him get dressed and stuff, but other than that... and help him with his showers and stuff, but other than that... he pretty well does everything by himself yet. It takes him longer, but we still get there."
(Greg): "Things are going pretty good. I have a bad day here and there, but most of the day I try to keep up and up and keep happy."
(Cronin): Both Greg and Audrey have found comfort and support through the MDA Clinic in Fargo. It's a facility that promotes fighting the disease, despite the fact that there still isn't a cure. They say talking to other patients and their families helps them get through each day. And that's why Greg and Audrey would like to establish a Lou Gehrig's Disease support group in our area.
(Greg): "So other people can maybe learn a little trick... something I found out how to do easier or somebody else has. It's just to help each other out, and sometimes it's just easier to talk to somebody who has ALS than somebody else that doesn't know anything about it."
(Cronin): Life is unpredictable. A cure could be just around the corner. And with a cure would come life as it was for the thousands of Americans living with a Muscular disorder. The Normans say your donation could be the difference between life and life without walking or talking.
(Greg): "Try to give as much as you can so other people won't be afraid and where they can find a cure for this disease and other diseases MDA supports. And maybe I can live longer and those other people can live longer. So give as much as you can."
(Cronin): After all, you never know if a muscular disorder could one day strike you or someone you love.
(Greg): "You never know what you're going to get back when they do find a cure. I plan on living at least 30 more years."
Greg is now retired.
Audrey has picked up babysitting and crafts to help the family financially.
Part of the money raised from today's telethon will be given to the state MDA clinic in Fargo.
The clinic helps pay for what a patient's insurance, disability and social security doesn't pick up.
If you would like more information on the Lou Gehrig's support group that the Normans are trying to set-up for our area, you can email them at email@example.com