A New Year needs new effort…

The following is the recent entry that I did for the MSAA’s national blog. The topic for this month’s editorial is resolutions/trying new things. I hope that you appreciate reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

ny pic1Now that we have rung in this New Year and flipped double digits to enter into the new decade, we need more. We should desire something to make us stand out from the crowd as it is too easy to vanish into obscurity if we do not evolve. This affliction called multiple sclerosis should not define our lives but be a mere side note to the long list of who we indeed are. Every year we should grab the tree of life and with all of the strength that we can muster and shake it. So if you have a lot of power then rock and rattle it until braches crack or if you have less vitality vigorously shake the leaves and say I am here. We must not simply survive with this medical condition but we must thrive like a cactus in the brutally hot desert sun.

The key to finding the new thing that will change your outlook on life is to consider your limits. You should stretch just a little bit outside of your comfort zone to prove to yourself that you can do more. Find your neighborhood community center and look into taking some classes involving art or cooking. If it is age-appropriate, find a senior center, check out the schedule, and make new and possibly lifelong friends. There are plenty of events for the low and even mid-speed MSers if you are willing to pinpoint and participate.

high octainFor those of us looking for high octane options, there are a plethora of them from which to choose. Adaptive sports have become a massive industry as no one likes to be excluded because of their life’s limitations. We have come so far in technology that what was once impossible is now conceivable. Great minds have gotten together and figured out how to make things work correctly, specifically for the disabled. We have all heard the line there is an app for that well now it seems that we can say there is an adaptation for that.

Adaptive sports include things such as surfing, kayaking, skiing, skydiving, and the list goes on and on. No matter your talent level and abilities, you can ride a bike with a handcycle, or if you have the required skills, you can whitewater kayak. If you are willing, it is not out of the question to snow ski in Colorado with the best of the best. For these sports, you are limited only by your willingness to act and what the imagination can create.

scubaI am researching my 2020 life challenge to go along with my swimming, and I feel it will be SCUBA diving. I found several companies all over the US that teach the disabled how to SCUBA dive for free. Some of these programs are specifically for veterans and first responders, while others are open to anyone disabled. It is just outside of my comfort zone as it is not in my city, yet I believe it is reasonable, feasible, and, most importantly, achievable.

last picI have always said do not tell me that I cannot do something because, with time and effort, I will find a way to make it happen. I was challenged to do a 5k in my wheelchair, and even though others doubted that I would complete it, I was successful. Some said that I could not do two and a half miles of swimming, yet I blew that challenge out of the water, and I swam eight grueling miles. There may be obstacles in your path, but you decide to allow them to stop you or not. The question becomes, how badly do you want it, and how much are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish the goal? So get off the couch and pick up your feet, cane, crutches or get behind your walker, even sit in your wheelchair and do something new for the New Year.

Do not let multiple sclerosis stop you; do something despite it.

Scott Cremeans lives in Central Ohio. He is a US Marine who was diagnosed with RRMS in 2001 at the age of 27. Scott has successfully managed his MS symptoms on his own with his faith, friends, and humor. You can read more about his MS journey by visiting his blog http://www.myramblings.blog where he muses about life in the slow lane with his literary wit.

With great power comes great responsibility…

lost brainI slept horribly the other night and decided to sleep in because a tired brain is a dysfunctional brain. I had nothing planned that next day to wake up early for and realized that this would be a great day to be lazy. I am not sure what caused my unrest though I lay all night with busy mind syndrome. Sadly the chaos that was to ensue would not allow the extra slumber that I so wanted. This terrible technological turmoil would not allow the excess rest to calm my brain that I desperately desired.

From a very young boy, my mother was relentless in the idea of not burning daylight. I would stay the night with a buddy, and as young boys do, we stayed up until at least three in the morning. Inevitably my mom would show up at eight in the morning to take me grocery shopping with her. The idea of a snooze button was like a unicorn; it did not exist in her life.

The Boy Scouts also fostered our sleepless behavior when we went camping. They allowed us to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Although we were able to stay up late, we also had to rise early to start the day together. No matter how tired we were, no snooze button was allowed to help us.

The Marine Corps continued to maximize this behavior of inadequate sack time. They wiped the idea of the mythical snooze button from anyone still holding onto this unicorn concept. Zero dark thirty was our typical wake-up time and even earlier on training days.

sneeeeezI am such a light sleeper that if a mouse sneezes in my living room, I say “blesses you.” All of that being said my motto has always been to hope for the best but plan for the worst. However, technology has a habit of modifying your ideas no matter your goals. I never want there to be a chance of oversleeping. This desire of not wanting to be late is of the utmost importance. I stagger my morning alarms so that if one does not work the backup number one or even number two will wake me.

While trying to sleep in the first alert in the morning were my lights that come on at ten percent power. They gradually get brighter by ten percent every sixty seconds or so. Keep in mind that I am a light sleeper and this is all that I need to wake me from my deep sleep coma. All of the lights in my house would hit maximum power in ten minutes, so I quickly turn the lights off and close my eyes to revisit the Sandman.

Fifteen minutes later my Google home begins an alarm sound. When my Google home alerts me, my response needs only to be vocal, and I do not need to move. Annoyed I wake up and loudly tell this tiny tech “ok Google stop!” The problem is that I must shout during the lull in the sound especially when I am waking and in a torpor state. Once the siren sound stops I close my eyes and try to return to my dream once again.

Keep in mind that it can take the average person twenty minutes to fall asleep. However, it can take the body an hour and thirty minutes to slip into restful REM sleep. Needless to say by this point I had not gotten the needed extended sleep for which I was aiming.

smart techTen minutes later the alarm on my phone began to shriek and shout to wake me. When my cellphone alarm rings I must physically manipulate the phone to turn it off. This task is daunting because for me to roll over and grab my phone is a challenging task since my body does not always cooperate. I fight with my body for several minutes making me wide awake, and I remember that this is my last alarm for today. Settling back into bed I close my eyes to finish my dream of running a marathon as I stood in the winner’s circle.

Ten minutes later was the introduction of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I hear the three small motors that open my living room blinds. They are set to open every morning bright and early at seven in the morning. I also begin to hear chirps from my phone reminding me of various upcoming tasks. Obviously, today I will not be getting the needed peace for extra hibernation.

offThis day reminds me that although technology is usually fantastic, it has its weaknesses too. Most importantly you must look for an off button for those times when you require extra respite. If only one of these alarms sounded that day, I could have continued sleeping even with the motors of the blinds whirring. Alas, I will have to try to sleep-in next month.

I cannot go to work tomorrow. I fractured my motivation.