“It was 25 years ago that doctors first told me that I have a non-curable,
non-treatable progressive neurological condition called Charcot Marie
Tooth (CMT) disorder,” said Hickory resident Jack Lail, 76. “After
that, I can’t remember what else was said or what happened. What
I can remember is that a fierce determination developed in my mindset
and I started thinking about ways I could overcome physical challenges.”
According to the
National Institute of Neurological Disorders, CMT is a rare disease, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S.
It’s named after 3 doctors that discovered it: Charcot – Marie
– Tooth. This genetic, progressive, neuromuscular disease first
affected Jack’s feet and legs. He then began experiencing balance
and stability issues and suffered several nasty falls. The impact of one
fall was so severe that it resulted in a torn retina. As Jack’s
pain intensified and spread throughout his body, he was prescribed increasing
doses of pain medications that eventually affected his brain.
Despite debilitating pain and subsequent nerve damage that limits his fine
motor skills today, Jack remains steadfast in his pursuit of enjoying
life. With the support of his family, Jack is motivated to keep facing
the challenges of additional serious health complications. His “mind
over matter” way of thinking helps keep him focused on the positive
aspects of life. Although he has more reasons than most to be sedentary
and isolated, he pushes himself to stay active. Jack’s commitment
motivates many Fitness Plus members as well as its staff.
“Jack has defied all odds and inspires many of our members just by
showing up regularly and sharing his positive outlook,” said April
Berg, Member Relations Specialist. “He is my ‘go to’
example of someone who refuses to give up. Despite constant pain and a
grim prognosis, Jack’s determination shows others the importance
of how fitness keeps him alive.”
Now Jack’s sight and hearing are failing and even breathing is laborious.
But, he puts on an oxygen cannula and loads up the oxygen tanks and his
walker and makes his way to Fitness Plus about three mornings a week.
He finds uplifting enthusiasm from visiting with other Fitness Plus members
and welcomes the opportunity to socialize.
“My doctor has actually told me that I am dying,” said Jack.
“But, he also explained that if I quit being active, my health will
diminish even faster. So, I believe in the ‘use it or lose it’
logic and I just keep going. My wife Gay is a great caregiver who helps
keep track of all my medications, manages my doctor appointments and has
even had to juggle dealing with her own health issues as well.”
Before falling asleep every night, Jack expresses his gratitude by thanking
God for the blessings experienced in living another day. Then he wakes
up the next morning with that same positive attitude.
To find out more about Fitness Plus, call 828.326.3680 or email:
Fitnessplus@cvmc.us. Fitness Plus is located on the lower level of the Center for Rehabilitation
on the Catawba Valley Medical Center Main Campus;
810 Fairgrove Church Rd SE Hickory, NC 28602.