In 1978, Patricia Mishler left her home in England and moved to the United States after marrying an American. The mother of two daughters—Suzanne, 13, and Janette, 11—her family first lived in Indiana before eventually resettling in Nashville, Tennessee.
Patricia, now 73 years old, was diagnosed about a year and a half ago with ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, destroys motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscle movement in the brain and spinal cord leading to progressive paralysis and eventual death. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of symptoms. (According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 10% of those with ALS survive for 10 years or more.)
A grandmother to more than a dozen grandchildren, Patricia once spent much of her free time pursuing favorite hobbies like gardening, sewing, and cooking. But since her diagnosis in October 2014, she has been unable to enjoy them any longer.
Suzanne (above left) and Janette (above right) recently brought their mother to StoryCorps to talk to her about what it’s been like for her to live with ALS, and also her thoughts on knowing that the disease will one day take her life.
Originally aired May 6, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.