- Duchenne (pronounced due – SHEN) muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.DMD is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. Symptom onset is in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 5. The disease primarily affects boys (roughly 1 in 3500). (From MDA)
- Muscle weakness can begin as early as age 3, first affecting the muscles of the hips, pelvic area, thighs and shoulders, and later the skeletal (voluntary) muscles in the arms, legs and trunk. The calves often are enlarged. By the early teens, the heart and respiratory muscles also are affected. (From MDA)
- With recent advancements, what my son (who is six) will experience in his teens or 20s is very different than what I see on the internet… but that doesn’t really make it easier.
- My son does not build muscle. In fact, many of the things that would increase strength in normal boys, cause more rapid muscle degeneration (stairs, climbing, pulling, pushing, getting up and down from the floor, etc). At six, he doesn’t have as much awareness, so needs constant awareness from parents to not overdo it. Multiply whatever walking or stairs climbing he does by 60 and you’ll have a sense of what it’s like for him.
- Watching him try and climb the stairs or fall so often or have trouble getting off the floor is torture. We have to carry him up and down the stairs most of the time, especially at the end of the day.
- Because of the stairs, we had to get a new house that’s all one level and would accomadate a wheel chair which could be in by his early teens.
- Not looking forward to medical bills and cost of medications for the rest of his life.
- Talking to my son about this is gut-wrenching… not to mention knowing how and when to tell others about what’s going on. As we often remind ourselves, “He knows.” At least he knows something isn’t the same with him as with other kids. I have told him that he has “special muscles” that get more tired that other kids so he has to ask for help. He also knows that there are things that can “hurt his muscles.”
- Chronic Grief. It’s legit and it applies to us as parents 100%. And how we process this is SO different and SO challenging. What this does to a marriage is exhausting and discouraging in and of itself.
- As it currently stands, there is no cure. This means that DMD is ultimately fatal and that my son has a much shorter life expectancy. I may be there when he dies. If this is the case, my fantasy about what the future was going to be like has, in many many ways, dissipated. I have no clue anymore.
One thought on “Dad’s Duchenne Top Ten”
Absolute emotional pain. I am so sorry. NO ONE should have to bear this. NO ONE, especially you and Kat. This will either make or break your marriage. Work to have it “make” it. Hold each other close. Closer than you’ve ever held each other and make sure you take time for each other. We’re here to help in any way we can.