Joyful Sorrow - a Column by Kristin Neva

patients, strength, bittersweet

Kristin Neva is an author, mother of two, and caregiver for her husband, Todd, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 when he was 39 years old. Knowing they would need family support, they moved to Upper Michigan and built an accessible home on property next to Kristin’s childhood home. Kristin enjoys spending time outdoors, especially on the shore of Lake Superior in the summer. Todd no longer has use of his limbs, but he stays active working on projects on his computer using adaptive technology. They try to find joy in the midst of sorrow as Todd’s health declines.

When a Season of Life Is Fading Away

I’ve been preparing for winter. I drained the hoses and hung them in the garage a few weeks ago. We used the lawnmower to pull Comet’s doghouse from our backyard to the front porch, where he will still be able to get into it after the snow accumulates. I called…

Unexpected Outcomes From Sharing Our Story

“Your YouTube channel must be taking off,” my 15-year-old daughter said. “Your edema video was recommended to me again. I was just scrolling through YouTube, and then I see it, and I’m like, ‘What’s this?’” Sara continued with increasing volume: “Oh, that’s my father’s foot! My father’s foot has…

When Fear Gives Way

“How are things going?” a friend asked. I explained that I have been concerned about my husband Todd’s breathing. He’s been waking up with headaches, which could be a sign that his breathing strength has declined due to ALS. He might benefit from noninvasive ventilation, but doesn’t want…

The Power of Puns

“Hurry! I’m having a pee-flex,” my husband said as I put on disposable gloves. I grabbed the urinal and held it for him. Todd invented the word pee-flex to describe the sudden urge to go once he drives his wheelchair into the bathroom. He is paralyzed from ALS, so…

The Limits of Marriage

Eighteen years ago, Todd and I joined our lives in marriage, vowing for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and we went forward together as friends and allies. Jesus taught that joining in marriage is “two becoming one flesh.” Indeed, I felt oneness with Todd. We liked…

Getting Our Affairs in Order

In the days after my husband, Todd, was diagnosed with ALS, I was overwhelmed with what lay before us. But Todd went into preparation mode. “We need to sell the house,” he said. “We need to move near your family.” It took more than a year for the house to…

Does It Ever Get Easier?

“Does caregiving for ALS ever get easier?” I pondered the question someone had posted on social media. I couldn’t sleep for days after my husband, Todd, was diagnosed. I was consumed with anxiety and fear for the future. How was I going to parent our children as a single mom?…

What Happens When We Compare Our Lives With ALS

When our kids started school this fall, I had a sense of relief that my husband, Todd, made it to see our youngest begin middle school. He’s now at the same school campus as our 15-year-old daughter. I’m glad we’re dealing with a school transition while Todd is still with…

Just Another Day in Life With ALS

I inspected the fish through the curved glass of a refrigerated display case. Wild-caught Lake Superior whitefish and trout — both raw and smoked — lay in metal trays. “I’d like that piece of smoked trout in the middle. Underneath the top one,” I specified. I picked a plump…