Twenty years ago this week I, Mommy, was in college and studying in Germany. We were in West Berlin attending a week long institute on the situation with two Germanys. One day we spent the day in East Berlin and had the opportunity to see a little bit of the way of life there. That evening, we saw a very large demonstration. The next day, we woke up and were to attend classes on "everyday life in East Germany". Because the East German government had opened the borders and allowed their residents to leave, they didn't know what to tell us. Instead, they drove us to the wall at the Brandenburg Gate. That day, we were able to stand on the wall. I, with some of my friends, stood on the Berlin wall. They were starting to chisel away at the wall. It was an amazing time in history and incredible to be a part of it.
I can remember going to McDonalds in West Berlin and it was packed. There were so many West Germans buying food for East Germans. It was heartwarming to see the generosity of the people. The lines were long and it took a while to order.
A few days later, we finished our classes and needed to head back to Heidelberg, where we lived. We were on a double decker bus with about 50 students and several staff members. What should have taken about 8 hours (or so) took well over 24 hours. It was stop and go traffic. Some of the worst traffic that I have ever seen. People were literally getting out of their vehicles and walking around visiting with other drivers. Because of regulations, we were not allowed off the bus. The route we had to take from Berlin to Heidelberg took us through East Germany and into West Germany. There were many MANY East Germans doing the same thing. It was not a fun experience.
We were back in East Berlin the following February. Several of us went into West Berlin and were back near the Brandenburg Gate. The river runs through the city near there. From the river and running along the wall are a number of crosses for people who lost their lives trying to flee from East Germany across the wall. The cross nearest the river had a March 1991 date. On the other side, about 10 feet in front of the wall was a cross from February 1991 - just one year earlier. Behind it, the wall had a hole through it that was about as tall as I am and nearly as wide. It would have made an incredible picture if it weren't for the fact that it was pitch black and I couldn't get both the cross & the hole to show. But that is a memory that has stuck with me. People had lost their lives only a year earlier.
I am thankful for the opportunity to witness the "life changing" events of the time. It was an incredible time to be there and see what was happening in the two countries and listen to West Germans talk about the events and listen to East Germans talk about their lives in East Germany. We saw a man who lived in East Germany and considered fleeing (before they opened the border) and he and his family did flee. We saw him after the East German government opened the border. We asked him if he was happy to have fled. Without people like his family, the East German government would not have changed their policy. They had to leave most of their things behind, but they were happy to be together and in a better place. What an incredible story he had to tell us.
The anti-coagulants have aleviated much of the pain. We are working with the docs to adjust the level of medication so that my blood is "just thin enough". We are having to check in with the doc once or twice a week.
Walking and getting around is getting more and more difficult. If I'm not at home, I'm pretty much using a cane, walker, scooter or wheelchair. At home, I'll use the cane or walker or do some walking without cane or walker, but taking a few steps from holding the wall to holding the couch to holding the table, etc... It isn't often that I walk from one end of the house to the other without any form of assistance.
I can't pick the girls up when I'm standing - it just isn't safe. I continue to need to adapt the way I do things. We met with the physical therapist at the new ALS Clinic to look at a brace for my leg. After trying a few different ones, we (the physical therapist and I) are not convinced that any will help. I've adapted how I walk and while it might not be "normal", it is mostly working. I do, however, fall often. Sometimes I am able to catch myself, but not always.
It is past bedtime and I'm running out of steam, so I'm going to close this for now. The news reports about 20 years ago, got me thinking and I know many of you have been looking for an update so I thought I'd write a little something.