Month: August 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Yep. I did it. I accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I considered the many things I had heard about this challenge. The premise originally was to challenge people to dump ice water on their heads OR make a donation to an ALS charity. As things do, it morphed, and I am sure that there are several versions out there now. The one I am seeing over the last couple of days is you dump ice water on your head and make some kind of donation to the ALS Association or you donate at least $100. I’ve seen questions like “what’s the point of this?” “Why wouldn’t I just donate instead?” “How does dumping water on my head cure ALS?” “How is it ok to waste all this water?”

I considered all of these before accepting the challenge. I won’t go into the arguments I had with myself over environmental issues (sprinkler systems on rainy days, sprinkler systems at all, washing machines, dishwashers, showers…slippery slope?). It’s an iceberg, and not at all the point of this challenge. This challenge is about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that is very difficult to diagnose and treat. People with ALS tend to live 2-5 years after diagnosis, with a median survival time of about 39 months. Of course it is variable enough that there are exceptions to this (you know, Stephen Hawking). I have seen and enjoyed many videos of friends, students, colleagues, and celebrities accepting the challenge. I have seen the fun and joy they experience. I have felt the wonderful collective energy and sense of community surrounding it. One colleague of mine stated in his video that for every pharmacy student who likes his video on Facebook, he will donate an extra dollar.

I knew someone with ALS. She had a huge impact on my life, and the news of her death, when I learned it, sent me reeling for a bit. So when my husband accepted his challenge

 

and in turn challenged me, I thought of her. I asked myself some of the questions I mentioned earlier, so that I could own my decision to accept the challenge or not. No, dumping water on my head will not cure ALS. I can give what I can in the way of a monetary donation to help, and clearly every little bit helps, as this viral challenge has raised almost $23 million as of today, according to the ALS Association website. People will see my video on Facebook, and on this site, and I will challenge others, and somewhere in all that, awareness about this disease will be raised. Somewhere, someone will learn something, because I (and countless others) got doused with ice water. That’s kind of cool. Here is the video of my accepting the challenge:

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

And here is where I challenge three others to do the same.

Professor Figment challenges others

Post script: I posted my video on Facebook before I managed to get this blog post out, and one of the colleagues I challenged has completed the challenge as I constructed this post. He participated with a group of medical students and faculty, who in turn challenged the rest of the medical schools in Virginia.