GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WRIC) — Jason Clement sits in front of his tablet and just lets the words flow.
He is currently writing his second book the same way he wrote his first. Jason never picked up a pen or used a keyboard to share a special account.
“Tips for other ALS patients, how to make life a bit easier based on things that we’ve learned,” Jason describes what is included in his first book.
The tablet allows Jason to write with his eyes using special software.
It is just one of the ways he has adjusted to life with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Jason was diagnosed with ALS in October 2015 at age 44. The avid Boston Red Sox fan began showing signs on an anniversary trip with wife Deborah Clement just six months before.
“I first noticed it,” Deborah remembers. “His thumb would not do a thumbs up. His speech started to slur a little.”
The diagnosis blew them away, but after months of tears they had a new perspective.
“Own it, and go with it,” Deborah explains how they handle life with ALS.
The two still go to as many baseball games as they can, often with the help of the ALS Association DC/MD/VA Chapter loan closet which provides items they may need for the trips.
The Clements also use their accessible van to volunteer at ALS Association fundraisers with an understanding that the support will come back to them and other families tenfold.
“It’s a bit more difficult,” Jason says about living with ALS. “But I keep a good attitude, keep busy and have fun.”
Adds Deborah, “He has had a great outlook on the diagnosis in the sense of being positive, and that rubs off on me. I mean, I could have a bad day, and he could come home, I could come home and he’s smiling at me. It just turns it around and you’re just like, ‘How could I be mad when he has such a great attitude?'”
Many of Jason’s stories are the inspiration for the book he is writing now.
“That keeps me very busy,” he says.
He says people are often surprised to hear him say he is thankful to have ALS, but he is.
Through it, Jason found a new passion with writing and learned what a great support system he has with family and friends.
He is also grateful to know more about the work the ALS Association does each day for more than 100 patients in Central Virginia.
“They are great,” he says.
The Richmond Walk to Defeat ALS is Saturday, October 28, 2017 on Brown’s Island.