Haslett Man Battling Back Against ALS

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

The joy was uncontainable. Dr. Craig Oster had just done something that might seem very ordinary, but was actually very extraordinary. He danced with his girlfriend Michelle.

What made the moment so special is that Oster has been battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, for 16 years. 80 percent of ALS patients die within 5 years of being diagnosed, but Oster has survived.

"I've always had a positive attitude," said Oster. "However I have had my moments of doubt."

"I think of him as Rocky," said Dayne Mentier, Oster's caretaker for the last couple of years. "He gets knocked down, but he gets back up."

He was admitted to hospice at Sparrow Hospital with breathing trouble two years ago. But he bounced back, recovering in the face of a disease that does not stop progressing. Recently, he was able to bench press 110 pounds and has been regaining strength.

"Even when I lost 45 pounds of muscle, I kept telling myself it was my destiny to heal," said Oster. "Now I believe it more than ever."

"If I had half of the stamina this guy has I'd be Arnold Schwarzenegger," said Michael Akin, one of Oster's caretakers.

His latest feat came at the 5th Annual Osterfest, a benefit held to raise funds towards his care. With help from his caretakers, Oster got up from his wheelchair and danced with Michelle Dingeldey, his girlfriend for the last year and a half.

The two dated 28 years ago and last danced in the late 80's. Dingeldey was incredibly moved by the dance.

"This is just incredible," said Dingeldey. "It's just incredible what this man does."

For more information on Dr. Oster's fight against ALS, visit his webpage at http://www.healingwithdrcraig.com.


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