EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 6, 2012

Rallying for David and against ALS

HAVERHILL — David Noyes can fix almost anything, including cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers and snow blowers. He’s gotten many things running again for friends, for family members and for neighbors.

But when he was diagnosed this year with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, there was no shop manual he could go to for help. He said the disease isn’t as well publicized or researched as other diseases such as cancer, as it doesn’t affect as many people.

“Being a person who likes to fix things, my muscles are dying, they’re being turned off,” Noyes said. “So I said to myself, why can’t I turn them back on?”

What began as a twitch in his right arm earlier this year progressed month by month and by the time fall came around his speech was slurred and he’d lost strength and coordination in his arm. So he tried something daring, unorthodox and even dangerous, hoping it would turn on the muscles that were shutting down because of the disease.

“I was working on my son’s truck and I thought I’d try to shock my muscles into action,” Noyes said. “I put my right hand on a spark plug wire and my left hand on the fender.”

He said the thousands of volts that coursed through his arm didn’t knock him to the ground as he’d expected, nor did it wake up the muscles in his arm as he’d hoped.

“I figured I’d try it if no one else had,” he said.

Noyes, 50, a lifelong resident of Haverhill, is taking it one day at a time after being diagnosed earlier this year with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

“Cancer has touched our family, and there is hope for them and for others, but for me my only hope is what tomorrow may bring,” he said. “I’m on a pill that might extend my life for two or three months, but any day I get out of bed is a good day.”

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