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Neurology Now:
Department: the Waiting Room

The Dream Doctor's Nightmare

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For one of the nation's most eloquent radio hosts, it was only natural that the problem first became noticeable when his voice began to falter. “Initially I had hoarseness,” Charles McPhee says. “I had to project with more exertion. I'd be navigating a phrase and, all of a sudden, I'd slur.”

A month later, in June, McPhee found out why: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In August, he revealed his diagnosis on air. And he began using his nationally syndicated program-“The Dream Doctor Show”-to educate listeners about the degenerative neuromuscular disease.

As a pioneering social scientist whose research focuses on analyzing and interpreting dreams, McPhee soon noticed ALS slipping into his own dreams. In one, he dreamed he was blind, with eyes as slit-like as a cat's. “I realized that I had been blind to the quickness and severity of ALS,” he explains. “The clock really is ticking; I need to plan.” Just 44, McPhee knows that he will soon lose his ability to speak, to move, and even to breathe without a respirator. Given his faltering voice, he decided that his last call-in show would air Oct. 21 (with more information available on its website at dreamdoctor.com). Instead, this author of three dream books plans to devote himself to writing several more.

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©2006 American Academy of Neurology

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