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Under Ballou Skies Hero: Michael Christian

by | May 3, 2022

Michael Christian is a man of many talents; from playing music, to restoring antiques he has always been a hands-on person. Though Michael has lived in many places, his love of music has always followed him wherever he travelled. He has played the drums in many different bands and loves to joke about his experiences. He and his wife, Susan, decided to settle down in Texas after the birth of their son, and Michael opened his own business where he restored and repaired furniture. He also continued his love of music by joining the Austin Banjo Club. “I had my business for close to 30 years. My hands could make anything I wanted, and they could play the drums,” Michael said, “I noticed my hands were getting uncooperative. I went out to my workshop to hammer a tiny nail into a tiny board, and as I swung my hammer, my wrist just flipped over. That was a shock, but that was the beginning of going to three different neurologists to be tested.” This was the beginning of Michael’s ALS journey. He and Susan visited multiple doctors in the hope that one of them would be able to rule out ALS as the cause of the weakness in Michael’s arms. Finally, on a visit to Houston, Michael was officially diagnosed with ALS.

After the diagnosis, Michael was able to continue playing music with the use of special wrist splints, but by 2018, Michael’s ALS had progressed to a point where he had to give up his music playing career. Even with Susan’s history as a nurse, ALS was difficult to understand. “What did we know about ALS?” Susan said about her reaction to the diagnosis, “I was a registered nurse for 50 to 60 years. I worked full time, I knew about ALS, but what did I really know about it other than it is Lou Gehrig’s disease? It was an opportunity for us to get educated about it all and to meet a lot of people with ALS,” By connecting with the ALS Association of Texas, Michael and Susan have been able to find support among other members of the ALS community. They both attend support groups where they connect with others going through similar struggles. “The ALS Association of Texas has just been completely wonderful to us in our lives. We go to the meetings where we talk with other members, and all of that stuff is so informative and important to let you feel like you’re part of a community that totally understands what you’re going through. Any question about ALS is answered so quickly. Without the Association, I would feel totally lost.” Michael said.

Michael is a naturally upbeat person, and he approaches his life with ALS with optimism and humor. He focuses on the positive things in his life, like the friends and family who still bring him joy every day. “My own thankfulness is that I have Susan, we’ve been married for 43 years, and she was a nurse, so she’s just a 5-star caregiver. Our two grandsons from our daughter and her husband are just a hoot, and we love them so much, they’re so entertaining and usually have us in hysterics. As far as reasons to live, our grandsons are two of them. I don’t know how much longer I’ll get to see them grow up, but I’m looking forward to every minute of watching that happen.” Though the road is long, Michael still has hope that one day, a cure will be found for ALS. “I don’t think any of us are expecting miracles, but by golly, we’ll still take it.”

How ALS Patients Can Help

Once you’ve been diagnosed with ALS, it’s easy to feel like you just don’t have many options, but there are ways you can make a difference.

How You Can Help People With ALS

We all have a part to play in the fight against ALS! Your generous support funds critical research for better treatments and a cure for this disease. Here are a few ways you can help: