‘How are you, Andrew?’

‘How are you, Andrew?’ Many people asked me this at the recent Advent Fair. It’s good to see everyone. I answered that it’s getting more difficult. Here is the longer answer.

‘It’s good to see you, but extremely difficult to be at an event, which I enjoyed as a fit man. I am continuing to get worse, and it’s even painful to nod my head and cough. I can’t tolerate being in most heated spaces. I can’t clear phlegm from my throat and mouth anymore, so the nurses do it. My tongue gets a build up of thrush, which is managed by drops and brushing. It’s still often uncomfortable. I cough sometimes and that causes painful heartburn. My lips and mouth become dry, which we manage with sticks and sprays. I enjoy the feeling of water when the carers clean my teeth. I am disconsolate that I can’t do much with Jane and our kids. We have some laughs. I’m proud of them. It’s impossible to have normal conversations with the eye gaze computer, though of course it’s great to have it. I rely on the carers and nurses to be able to adapt to my changes and to know my needs without me asking. I am ok with not eating and drinking anymore. My world and horizons have shrunk dramatically. I haven’t lived in the house for sixteen months, and I miss home life. I enjoy the time I spend with the family. I wish I could fulfill my parental responsibilities. Some people continue to make a real difference, others vanish. The illness is a real shame for me, Jane, Valentina, Sebastian and my parents.’

When people asked about how I am, I was having trouble keeping cool and warm, phlegm was coming and going and my neck was tired from nodding and looking to the side. Despite all, it was good to see everyone.

Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

2 thoughts to “‘How are you, Andrew?’”

  1. I read every word you write and thank you again for telling it how it is. Jane is getting back to us re coming for dinner and now our invitation to our party too. I know she can’t really confirm anything and I completely understand. We used to see your children every week, but they have disappeared from us completely. My daughter saw you at the Advent Fair, but we have been advised in recent years not to attend, as it may be “considered provocative!” I hope to see you soon at Water Mill. Love to all.

  2. I’m glad I read this – hear it from the horses mouth! I really admire your bravery. Just wish there was more I could do. Wx

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