Adapting to ALS

When one Idaho woman could no longer climb the stairs into her home, the community stepped in to help. Now a ramp leads to independence.

Stephanie Serumgard says, "I was diagnosed on November 1, 2018."

Serumgard lives with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. Like many people, Serumgard had heard of ALS but didn't know all that encompasses this disease with no cure.

Serumgard says, "I didn't know much about the disease beyond the ice bucket challenge. Learning about the disease in depth was very frightening."

ALS affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the the disease progresses, the brain looses the ability to control muscle function.

In the eight months since Serumgard was diagnosed, she has lost the ability to eat, swallow and walk more than a few feet at a time.

Now, she and her husband are learning how to adapt to their new life every day.

Serumgard's husband Greg Jugler says, "So far the best thing has been we just deal with whatever comes up that day. So, disorganized structure, I guess, would be the best way to put it."

One day, it became clear that the couple would not only need to restructure life around ALS but an actual structure would need to be added to their home as well.

For someone living with ALS something as simple as a ramp can mean regaining some of the independence he or she was used to having before an ALS diagnosis.

It's upon realizing a new structure would need to be built that Jugler's coworkers, and his family, stepped in to help.

Ramp volunteer Spencer Dye says, "The big thing about it is we just wanted to help someone who needed help and even though it did make us feel good in the end. It did turn out pretty well. I was surprised personally."

For Serumgard the new ramp turned out more than pretty well

She says, "It's amazing how wonderful people have been in the ALS community. It has been a great gift."

Serumgard and her husband have not only been surprised by the community's outreach but by the change in their own relationship as well.

Jugler says, "It's brought us closer than we've ever been."

The couple says the next adaptation to their home will be the bathroom.

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