San Diego, Calif., Jun 6, 2010 / 11:19 am
Three years ago, Shane FitzMaurice was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The rare neurological disorder is typically fatal within five years of diagnosis.
FitzMaurice, 54, is now confined to a wheelchair and breathing machine. His physical deterioration has progressed to the point that he now requires 24-hour assistance to do anything requiring voluntary muscular movement.
He has to be physically lifted to go anywhere, fed because he cannot lift his arms and, if he feels an itch while sleeping, he needs someone to relieve the discomfort. More recently, he has had problems swallowing food.
FitzMaurice’s ALS diagnosis seemingly came out of nowhere, which is indicative of 90 percent of those who contract the disease. No one in his family ever had ALS, nor was there anything in his lifestyle that gave any hint that he would suddenly develop it.