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Living with KD

Personal Stories

Jerry Hamblen, Born 1943 - FL, USA

Jerry Hamblen, Born 1943 - FL, USA

I am Jerry E. Hamblen born in 1943 in Indianapolis, IN

My family had a machine shop. I was a journeyman Toolmaker by the time I graduated high school then joined the Air Force in 1961 where I became an aircraft and jet engine mechanic. Except for having larger breasts than I preferred nothing remarkable happened until 1978. A friend had a new boat and wanted me to water ski with him. Having done this lots of times I found after getting on top of the water I was crouched on the ski and unable to stand up. I saw several Dr’s who thought there was a problem and referred me on and on until a Neurologist diagnosed me with A.L.S. A year later after monthly EMG’s I went to the Cleveland Clinic Hospital for a second opinion. They found me atypical for ALS because, mostly my progress was very slow. They decided Muscular Atrophy was as accurate as needed.

During the next several years I continued to run my own Machine Shop while using alcohol as my medicine of choice. I never to this day have had pain except for falls.

In 1981 I quit drinking, in 1982 I quit smoking & retired to the FL Keys where having a Captains License. & a Commercial pilots License I decided to do whatever allowed me to live a good life as long as possible.

When my brother Richard got the same symptoms I joined him in a visit to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville[1988] Where the Neurologist took muscle and sensory nerve biopsy’s and suggested SBMA although the Clinic diagnosis was officially Muscular Atrophy. At this point I could still walk short distances on flat ground and only used a cane part time.

In the mid 90’s an MDA Neurologist prescribed AFO’s as I had foot drop in my Left foot. These really improved my walking as they allowed a much longer stride and allowed my toes to bear weight. Falling less was the best bonus.

To this day I am convinced falling will end my life before any disease, so I add use a power chair and safety rails as much as possible. In the past year I added Toilivators {a 3.5" riser} to our toilets. I amazes me how much things like this improve everyday life.

My wife of 25 years, Mari & I now live in a house we had built on a small lake with no steps anywhere. She is very helpful & understanding.

At this time I have very little upper body problem, ear ringing and hoarseness with nighttime choking occasionally being attributed to Acid Reflux. I have muscle wasting between my thumb & index finger on both hands. My lower legs and feet are very wasted although the powerchair has made this more an inconvenience than a problem, as I can still do anything I want, if time and method are not a problem.