Faces of ALS: Giving thanks for those magical moments

Ashley RosenbrockFaces of ALS, Home Page

Wendell Meyer enjoyed gardening, tackling household projects and being active in his church. By profession, he worked as a business analyst at the American Medical Association. When he began to rapidly lose weight, he decided to seek out answers with the help of his wife Theresa, a nurse at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Following a visit with his primary care physician, Theresa consulted with her contacts at Lurie and was referred to the Lois Insolia Clinic at the Les Turner Center at Northwestern Medicine. There, Wendell was diagnosed with ALS by Clinic Director Sendra Ajroud-Driss, MD and connected to the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

“My wife and I are grateful to meet on a regular basis online with Foundation ALS Support Services Coordinators Julie Stowell and Easton Stevenson,” says Wendell

“Wendell and Theresa have a handicapped accessible van and have loaned it out to other ALS patients and their families when needed,” says Julie. “They are also regular and active participants in our Wheaton Support Group. At these meetings, they share their knowledge and experience freely, giving their contact information to those in need when asked. If asked what I do for Wendell and Theresa, I have to say they do as much for me as I do for them.”

Since Wendell’s ALS diagnosis, he has become adept at using technology to make things easier — like navigating voice control on his phone and installing a device that turns lights on and off. He has also learned the importance of planning ahead and being prepared because changes can occur quickly.

“The biggest life change for me has been losing the ability to move everything except for my head and neck,” says Wendell. “I am also on non-invasive ventilation 24/7. Fortunately, hospice has been a source of significant support for me. There tends to be a misunderstanding that hospice is just for end-of-life support; we have been relying on hospice for over two years for a lot of services.

Despite the drastic changes in his life, Wendell is thankful for the things that have remained the same — the support from his family and friends.

“My faithful relatives and friends continue to support me and my family throughout this ALS journey. The journey is a rapid one so it’s important to reach out early,” says Wendell. “We try to participate in the Foundation’s events including the ALS Walk for Life which we did for four years with our team, Storm Troopers for Wendell.”

Theresa, who is also Wendell’s primary caregiver, is grateful for the support, too.

“We have two caregivers during the day who help me while I continue to work full time remotely,” she says. “Caregiving is hard physically and emotionally; and having outside caregivers in your home takes some time to adjust to.

The shared responsibilities that we had before ALS now fall on my shoulders and it is difficult for Wendell to see this and not be able to help. That is why we are so fortunate to have wonderful caregivers and friends and family that share this journey with us.”
Wendell is also thankful for the precious time that he can share with family and the opportunities to be a part of memorable events.

“My daughter Elizabeth was married on Oct 15th, and I was able to ‘walk’ my daughter down the aisle,” says Wendell. “I also have a new son-in-law, Josh, which is wonderful!”

Please consider donating so that other people living with ALS and their families can get the support they need to share more magical moments with their loved ones.