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These days, even the simplest tasks require 51-year-old Bonita Shults to lean on her husband, Jeff for help. The two have been inseparable since they married 11 years ago, but this is not the "happily ever after" they thought they would experience.
Smoky Mountain Adventures
"In one day, somebody can tell you your life is going to be totally different," says Jeff Shults.
A year ago, while the two were dreaming of retirement and travel, a doctor interrupted their plans.
"He sat me down and held my hand... and told me I was going to die," says Bonita Shults.
Shults was shocked. She was just 50.
"I didn't really know what it was," admits Bonita.
"That was a day you can never imagine and you just don't want to because really, he (the doctor) is just giving you a death sentence," says Jeff.
A.L.S., also known as Lou Gherig's, is a mysterious and fatal disease.
"As far as them being able to tell you what to expect... they can't," says Jeff.
This is because it affects each patient differently. There is no treatment. No cure. A.L.S. attacks the nerve cells that control movement, causing muscles to waste away. It started with Bonita's voice. She is using a device to help her speak.
Her face is paralyzed. The disease is moving into her chest and has already slowed her movement.
"You become trapped within your body," says Bonita.
"You're so depressed watching her each day not being able to talk as good as the day before or get around like she did the day before. It just kills me to watch her," says Jeff.
But, each day, they get through it together.
"I really have a very strong faith in God," says Bonita.
That faith keeps her going along with her family and friends. During this time, she has also gotten tremendous support from MDA and others battling the disease.
"We e-mail each other," says Bonita.
It is therapeutic and comforting. Bonita is even writing her story in hopes of shedding light on this devastating disease. For now, Bonita and Jeff are enjoying the time they do have together with simple pleasures. But when reality does become unbearable, Bonita remembers something her sister told her about God's love.
"He (God) gives you what you need when you need it," says Bonita.
Thanks to your donations, MDA gave 7 million dollars to scientist worldwide for ALS research last year.
You have a chance to directly help Bonita and others in their fight against A.L.S. You can pledge your monetary support during the Jerry Lewis Telethon Labor Day.
Live at Five
Beth Haynes , Reporter
Last updated: 8/28/2006 10:30:26 PM