That’s what I say whenever I look into a mirror. I see myself and say, “I do not know you.”
Yes, that much of me has changed.
I no longer look like me. There are similarities, but not many. The nose. The sad eyes. The smile is gone. The hair, too, but most of that left long before ALS arrived.
There was a time in the not too distant past where I would stand before the mirror in the bathroom to shave, trim mustache, brush teeth, clean some strangely sticky grease-like stuff from my ears, even pluck a wayward eyebrow or two.
Yes, that was me then.
Today, I cannot stand in front of a mirror. No. Standing. Allowed. The mirror I use is handheld; one of those small, round mirrors with a handle. I’m farsighted so I need reading glasses to determine the image reflected back to me is me.
It’s not me. I don’t know who it is. Zombies from the music video Thriller come to mind.
ALS robs a victim of more than you might expect. Weight has dropped 90-pounds in a few years. Worse, muscle has wasted away leaving drooping skin that more closely resembles people in concentration camps of Nazi Germany than someone on a severe diet.
Also gone is strength and energy and desire. The strength needed to stand up. The strength to walk. The strength to speak. That last one because of the breathing difficulties which are similar to the most vicious bout of influenza you ever had. Times 10.
Energy is missing, too. There is no appetite, either. The desire to sleep is very strong, yet, other than the breathing issues and core muscle weakness, my symptoms are mild compared to others with more traditional ALS, so it could be worse.
But that man I see in the mirror is not me.