There are thousands of faces of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS. They say as much as 20,000 at any given time; about 4,500 are veterans. This is one of them. He has ALS, and he is a veteran.*
The mornings are slow moving. His hands are still though they are not paralyzed yet. They are difficult to move, the left much more so than the right. His left hand cannot grip an object anymore and the bicep and triceps are deflated. His right hand and arm will follow along soon enough. The triceps on this side are more affected than the rest of the arm. There is no rhyme or reason to how the wasting occurs. One side of the body does not follow the exact pattern of the other side. It just does what it does each day and we fill in the vacancy it leaves.
It takes roughly two hours to get ready for the day. From the moment of getting out of bed to coffee to breakfast to showering to dressing. Two hours.
This face, in this photo, is before he gets his game on for the day. It is before he gets his second cup of coffee as he waits for me to bring it to him. It is before he has had his breakfast that must be made for him. It is before a shower, and dressing, and getting ready to beat down another day of this wicked disease. This is a face of ALS.
*Veterans are at least twice as likely to get ALS than non-veterans. No one knows why. ALS has been service connected since 2008.