Accession obsession…

fred aI found true beauty in the love of my life, and she has grace and elegance like none before her. My lovely has a poetic symmetry that allows for smooth Fred Astaire like movements while having the curves of Marilyn Monroe. This glamorous Venus allows me to be myself while helping to keep my independence. However, to receive this gift from the heavens was a difficult battle from the start. To obtain this alluring artistry, I needed real fortitude and strong tenacity as the dissension was discouragingly disheartening. Allow me to tell you the story of getting my first fantastically fitted and life-altering wheelchair.mm

My first wheelchair was a standard hospital-style wheelchair that I received from a different donation program. The guy from this awarding agency told me how ninety-nine percent of their requests are for power wheelchairs. He explained that they would not ask for my donated chair back and that I should plan to keep this heavyweight hand-me-down. This chair was sixty-five pounds and folded, but did not disassemble though its size and weight made it very difficult to put into most vehicles. Although my mom often exercises and is fit, it was a struggle for her to put my chair into her SUV.

small chairAfter a lengthy discussion with my doctor, she prescribed an ultralight wheelchair. I took this prescription to a local seating clinic where the discouraging part of the story begins. I rolled into the clinic in my wheelchair that was oversized and ill-fitting for my greatly gaunt body. They helped me to sit on a slightly padded table so that they could begin to take a plethora of my body measurements. This assessment was to ensure that this chariot would fit me comfortably because as they say measure twice and cut once. Someone using this personally sized chair for such a long time needs anything that encourages complete comfort.

power chairAs a thirty-eight-year-old man in relatively good health, her next statement threw me for a loop. Not talking to me about my options, she merely asked what I was looking for in a power chair. We did not discuss the benefits of the different styles, so there was no mention of the option of manual wheelchairs and their advantages. I quickly spoke up, and vehemently said that I wanted a manual wheelchair. She then explained to me that power chairs are much easier to pass through Medicare. I explained how that was nice, but then I reiterated assuredly that I wanted a manual wheelchair.

After way too much cajoling, I was lowered onto a manual wheelchair that was only adequately fitted to my frame. This temporary chair was used to test my mobility ability testing my strength to self-propel. I was too stubborn to say, uncle, as I was run through the paces running me up and down a ramp and over several speedbumps. They doubted my conviction and continued to challenge my endurance by having me push myself down a long hallway. This relentless testing proved that I am a bullheaded Marine who was not willing to back down from this exhausting investigation of my capabilities.

traMy current wheelchair is custom-fit for me and only weighs a hair over forty pounds. This lack of bulk allows me to propel myself most places while not feeling like I am pushing a tank. The chair disassembles and reassembles with ease and can fit into vehicles from super small to the sizably substantial. The tires have airless inserts eliminating flat tires or the need for the manual manipulation of an air pump. It has indeed helped me to keep my self-reliance and lengthens the list of places that I can traverse.

It is unfortunate that many times in this world, people become self-focused asking themselves what I can gain from this. This me-ism based world can truly hurt those in need and benefit those looking to get just a little more for themselves. We must be diligent in knowing what we need to be heroic and heard on the reasoning for our desires. Most importantly, we need to be courageous and ask questions and stand firm in defense of our ideals.

Be strong vocally and get strong physically.

Heartfelt humanitarianism…

help othersThe other day someone asked me a question that baffled and bewildered me, yet this query that was posed was so simple. They asked: why do I help others if I do not know or owe them anything? I sat quietly for a moment and evaluated this inquisition and the best way to explain the purpose of this lifelong altruism of mine. Truth be told I also contemplated on why we are friends as he was honestly confused by my humanitarian hands. He did not understand why I would not buy myself an unnecessary and unneeded better Bluetooth headset since I had the money.

When I was growing up, my family was lower middle class, although we were a hare’s breadth away from being poor. Our family held onto the title of the lower middle class like it was the last twinkly at a weight watchers meeting. My mother, who was a single parent, worked a full-time job and went to college, so we rode that tightrope between poor and poor-ish for seven years.

poorWe were low-income, but I had no idea what being poor genuinely meant until I met some specific people in high school. I was not afraid to make friends with anyone, including the people that were shunned and socially shamed because of their appearance and clothing. I made good friends with those who were the real impoverished individuals in high school. Freshman through the senior year were the years it was most difficult for a kid to hide the family financial stance. So I had both rich and poor friends though I learned the most about life and the real meaning of friendships from those with the least.

I learned from seeing this downtrodden lifestyle and saw how my friends did not work so that their parents could do so. Most days, they needed to watch their younger siblings because their parents could ill-afford decent childcare. I quickly realized that when we were going to eat fast food, they could not buy food for lunch. I did not want them to feel bad and look needy if I only bought food for them. The solution was to simply pay for the group as to not single out the neediest among us. It felt good to do good for others without making them feel embarrassed or ashamed for not being able to contribute financially. This action was done with no expectations of payback, thus began my altruistic life.

I have seen and experienced some of the worst neighborhoods that Columbus, Ohio, has to offer. I was told that I had to physically see the poverty-stricken communities to comprehend the struggles of the penniless people truly. Walking in these areas and talking with some of the residents, I learned that many put forth a valiant venture to lift themselves out of destitution. This effort tends to reward them with a losing battle, typically moving them one step forward and two steps back. Sadly, they are not afforded the opportunities that I have seen others use to their advantage to raise out of the impoverished lifestyle.

flowersMy friend later asked me: if that is the case, then why do you do things for people who are not in need? He saw me order flowers for the community center where I swim and heard that I bought dinner for a group of friends. This question tells me that I should start shopping on eBay to find new choice chums.

There is enough bitterness, hatred, and contempt in this world that truly affects everyone. These negative impacts are not the same for everyone, but it affects everyone none the less. So in my eyes doing good whether they are in need or not are putting a bit of kindness into an otherwise acrimonious world. Giving to the destitute or affluent has a positive impact on the recipient and the altruist alike.

humbl1To make the world a little better in my eyes, I give to many charities like soup kitchens and food banks. I have helped supply clothing and furniture for local free stores and given out grocery gift cards to plenty of needy families. I have purchased school supplies for many children and Christmas trees for families in need. I have sent flowers and fruit baskets all over town in an attempt to bring a smile or two. I have even bought many meals for friends both in large groups and one on one. I have been told that my giving is excessive. However, I say that it is not enough as I would like to do more, but my income will only allow me to do so much.

Please do not think that I am braggadocios because that cannot be further from the truth. My mom tells me that I am simply leading by example, and yet I genuinely hope that people are willing to follow suit. I understand that not everyone can afford to do these things, but little acts of kindness make a difference in this bitter filled world. So the next time that you are out at your favorite coffee place, buy a coffee for a stranger or do some other random act of kindness. I guarantee you that it will make them feel good, but it will give you a great feeling as well.

Be the change in the world that you want to see- Gandhi.

No object of pity…

Friends and even family can occasionally act funny when it comes to the unwell. They seem to feel entitled by proxy to the term of disabled. Some of them can even get bombastic when they come to the defense of anyone in a wheelchair. These people can periodically become overly pro accessibility to the point that it becomes excessive.

panera caA friend and her husband were taking me to a fast-casual eatery for lunch. There was a light rain coming down that seemed to cause people to drive erratically. As we pulled into the parking lot, there was construction equipment all around. The trucks and dumpsters blocked many of the parking spots. There was one accessible parking space where someone was illegally parked. This lack of convenient parking caused us to get rained on as we rushed to get inside. We moved as fast as a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but we made it.

I am the kind of guy who knows that to find this illegally parked person is unlikely. Not to mention all of the stress that it would cause if we found them. I said it before and I will say it again: stresses and MS are like oil and water. This bad mix can create physical consequences that can put a stoppage to my progress for the day. I do not want to visit these significant problems, so I avoid the catastrophe causing concerns at all cost.

pissed poochMy friend went to the cashier, and with a vehement passion, she began to protest loudly. I tried to calm her down, but like angry pit-bull holding food, she would not let it go. I explained that the cashier is not the one to blame for our damp dilemma. I reminded my friend that her ferocious temper is scaring the young female cashier. She soon calmed down, and we eventually had a nice lunch. I imagine that my friends vociferating may have scared the offender who caused our wet woes to the point of never parking like that again. On the other hand, it may have accomplished absolutely nothing at all.

I accidentally left my accessible parking placard in the car of a friend of mine. He called to let me know that he had it so that I would not panic when I could not find it. “I can bring it back to you whenever you need. When do you need it next?” he questioned. “Bring it ASAP please because I will need it tomorrow morning” I explained. When he brought it to me, he explained: “I had to use it to run into the grocery store real quick to grab one thing.”

park pkacI proceeded to let him know that there is paperwork that goes along with the placard to prove it is yours. I also made him aware that either of us could get ticketed for him using it illegally. This citation could be handed out even if he had the paperwork. I would get the ticket if I let him use it unlawfully or he could be ticketed if he used it fraudulently and without my knowledge. Then I reminded him that these tickets for illegally using these placards are no joke costing on average $250 to $500.

The question is will he do this again? I don’t know, but he will not be using my placard.

cta mainstThe COTA bus arrived one day with two drivers one of them being a trainee. I had seen the trainer before, and he made a funny, smart comment. He said something about getting myself on the lift in a jovial way and I laughed. The trainee was shocked and said, “Are you not going to push him?” “Why,” the trainer asked. “Because he is in a wheelchair.” She said morosely. He explained that just because a person is in a wheelchair that does not mean that they are helpless or unintelligent. “Many of them live independently without issue” he proclaimed.

I say all of that to say this: I want to be seen as just another guy out in public. I do not want people to see me as less than or different. I refuse to ask for special treatment, and I do not want people to feel sorry for me. Many people hold doors open for me, and I appreciate that. Depending on the timing I try to hold doors open for other people. I do not cut in line or complain when there is no handicap parking.

I am in a wheelchair. It’s not who I am. It’s just how I get around.

Tug of war with a spider web…

createThere are many forms of creative people like authors, musicians, painters, designers, and even chefs. Individuals like Mark Jacobs, Monet, Mark Twain, Mozart, and Mark Peel are all imaginative and innovative people in their fields. Ingenious individuals like them get most of their inspiration from the many roadblocks of everyday life. This idea means that they did not become experts in their universes quickly or without some significant struggles.

usmcA person does not learn and grow only when life is silky smooth, and to become adept is even more of a challenge. These battles that life puts in your path are where you will find the separation of the neophyte and the proficient. A person is not handed the title of US Marine, but they earn it through thirteen weeks of arduous, exhausting challenges. The title is not dropped into their laps but bestowed upon them after all of the problematic provocations are complete.

In my search for blog creativity, I have earned insightful inspiration from books and TV shows. I have organized and obtained blog ideas from movies, music lyrics, podcasts, and even once from a partridge in a pear tree. The proper promulgation for my new blog topics is eluding my imagination. The usual wisps of wisdom that feed my inventiveness have become as elusive as the loch ness monster.

thI feel like my last few blogs were missing something, but I am not sure what it was. I feel that I need to experience a few more of life’s wisdoms and obstacles to provide me with more inspiration. As if my MS is not demanding enough, it is important that I endure more of life’s worldliness to give my readers an enjoyable blog. I need more exposure to everyday life and all that it has to offer good or bad.

I am sure that some individuals will tell me that my blog is excellent and that there are no issues with it. The question that I need to answer is, is it more important for my readers to be satisfied or for me? As the writer, I say that I have to be happy with it first because if not, it will not be understandable.

signSo I will be taking some time away from this blog to regain and recoup my creative juices. I will be reposting some of my earlier blogs in the meantime, so keep reading just in case you missed one. I am eager to return with all new and creative blogs to remind people of one fact that somebody has it worse than you, and they make it work.

You can be a watcher or get off the couch and get in the game.

An elephant doing ballet…

avoid failIf you want to have success in your life, you must avoid failure at all cost. Wow, that is a pretty impressive statement, and I think it says it all, so I guess this blog entry is complete. That comment is a positively perfect proclamation so you can stop reading and go back to your daily grind. I will send this to the proofreading and punctuation people so that we can wrap this one up. I must say that it was insightful and impactful promulgation.

I am the one who does the preliminary checking and correcting my work. I now realize that I need more than a declaration like that to fill my obligation to my readers. I should give you the reader more information to understand if that statement has importance and relates to my circumstance. Although that is a profound theory that can be used in absolutely any situation, I need more substantial facts. So hold on a few minutes while I get my thoughts together to make these words more valuable than a blank canvas to a painter.

analyze 2Every time that I fall, and after my recovery, I tend to analyze, criticize, and evaluate and investigate. I try to contemplate what caused the fall and postulate how to avoid a repeat catastrophe. Is it possible that my foot or even my wheelchair could have been slightly out of position by a mere half-inch? Let me give you a few examples of things not quite right causing a cataclysmic consequence.

After I got out of the pool the other day, my upper body felt weak like it does most days after swimming. I went into the family changing room that is most conducive to this body of mine that has been peppered with this pestilent prostration called MS. I carefully unpacked all of my shower necessities and put them on the shower bench and towel hook.

showerAlthough I was exhausted, as usual, the transfer onto the shower bench was simply silky smooth. I turned on the water to allow it to get to temperature, and then I pre-rinsed. When I grabbed the liquid soap bottle to put some soap on my scrubby, the container was slicker than a Vaseline slicked eel and fell to the floor. As I slowly bent down to pick it up while holding onto the shower grab bar, I slumped over too far. At this slouched angle, I had to rely on my weakened arms to pull me upright, causing a real aggressive battle.

I wanted a fight free from falls but instead ended up on the shower floor brimming with enmity. This anger built up to a burning rage as my ignorance caused my next challenge as I left my phone six feet away. My next task would be to drag myself across the floor to acquire my phone and call the front desk for help. A few minutes later, a staff member came and picked me up and placed me back in my wheelchair. It is in my best interest to always think logically and move with lethargy to avoid these situations.

Getting into and out of most cars is a geographical conundrum compelling deep contemplation. Taller vehicles like SUV’s or Minivans are more challenging than having an elephant send a birthday text to your friend. So my goal becomes strategic positioning to make sure that my every step in the process is correctly positioned.

The other day I was getting out of a friends SUV and things did not go as well as I would have liked. Every car has its idiosyncrasies that force a need to slow down and excogitate to avoid any tragic tumbles. That day I was tired hot and bound to make a significantly senseless snafu.

We put my wheelchair just outside the car door parallel to the car so that I only needed to slide onto my chariot. I was weak and needed some minor assistance with a trick that we have figured out through trial and error. Locking one arm from each of us at the elbow, my friend pulls me onto the waiting seat below. However, on this day, the stars would not align this time the odds were not in my favor.

ppThings started well as I was politely pulled off of the passenger seat and onto the chair below. Sadly my foot usually hits the floor as a pivot point, but the lack of fulcrum was the first folly of the day. The next issue was that there was no seat under my rump as I expected because I forgot to pull the chair forward completely. My improperly positioned wheelchair was only a few inches off-kilter, causing me to land on the edge of the cushion and slide off and onto the floor.

ebIt took several minutes of the struggle of my friend to get my derriere onto the landing zone. This challenge was an educational moment that I will try to never forget and avoid this catastrophic calamity in the future. To avoid exacerbating my falls, it is imperative that I think and move slowly. When I do not transfer carefully and cautiously, I am as graceful as an elephant doing ballet.

If you fall nine times, then get up ten.

Recreationally resting and leisurely relaxing…

khThe idea of relaxation is simply subjective as everyone has their way of finding a happy hiatus. Some people find a benefit in working on tasks that they enjoy, yet others need to stop working altogether to find pure relaxation. Specific individuals need the assistance and support of good friends to find absolute cessation. Countless people require total solitude to attain relaxation, while many desire groups of friends to achieve an immersive intermission.

There is the idea of enjoying a staycation or going away for an exuberant away-cation. On the other hand, there are those of us who need to veg out because it is refreshing Friday evening and we worked too hard in the morning. We need to find that which makes us happiest and revel in it as long as possible and bask in its reprieve. The important thing is to be calculated in finding your undeniable happiness.

babyI find periodic purposeful pleasure in all forms of music. The melodious and rhythmic sounds that fill my house makes my soul sing with exuberant jubilation. Diverse styles of music from Beethoven to The Beastie Boys help my various moods keep under control. I love to kick back and let the tuneful tones take me to a tropical island while my worries get washed away by the ocean sounds.

booksOther times I feel a desperate desire to disembark from reality and board the train to another world. The local library is brimming with books that can take you on a journey to places that you may never visit and might not even know exists. I can climb Mount Olympus and palaver with Zeus or traverse to the bottom of the ocean and play cards with a lobster. The average library has over thirty million books, so the adventures that you can take are nearly endless.

Manic moments of my mad mind at bedtime may demand a visit from the Dalai Lama himself to calm the beast within. Meditation is relaxing, causing restful mental tranquility that allows peaceful slumber throughout the night. Deep contemplation and rumination before the day begins can put your brain in a harmonious state to help your day run smoothly.

kicking with friendsYou can also settle back and put your feet up and totally tranquilize yourself by spending time with your friends. No matter if they are classmates, colleagues, or cohorts friends can help you chillax and chordal until you cry out with laughter. True chums know the right buttons to push to make kicking back fun and easy to wipe your worries from your cranium.

I also swim three times a week, which is good for your body, mind, and spirit, helping to relax you in every way. Any hobbies that a person has can also help mediate and moderate stress build-up that occurs from daily life. Do not become slaves to your worries also avoid becoming hermits to avoid interacting with people. So no matter how you find respite for your day, it is essential always to take time to enjoy the life that you have.

Relax, refresh, and revive.

Through the eyes of a child…

learnWe as adults forget and sometimes become flustered at how slowly children think as they learn. I have seen parents get upset as their kids sluggishly realize how something works and impede the family progression through the day. Grownups often forget how life looks from the eyes of the innocent while the neophyte inside of the child shines. Kids’ creativity continually causes cultivation proliferation.

The perspective of children should teach us all how to look at things with an innocent mind. At times we need to throw out our presumptive predilections and see things through the eyes of wonder and excitement of a child. I do not see several boxes in a stack, but I see the castle of Camelot to be defended by the Knights of the Round Table although the table is square. It is essential to let the kids be kids as they could unexpectedly invent the next big thing as they play, grow, and learn.

When I was a young child, my school went to visit COSI or Center of Science and Industry. We wanted to see what we could learn and participate in as everything was hands-on at this science center. I remember how we went to the mining exhibit to experience all aspects of the life of a miner. Eight kids at a time piled into this elevator to travel down many floors. I knew that the elevator was going down because there was a window that showed the walls were traversing towards topside. When we got off of the elevator exiting from the opposing door, we were in the deep dark depths of the city.

COSICOSI is very good at sparking imaginations and causing kids creative minds to go wild. With my adult brain, I now understand that the walls that I could see through the elevator windows were on a revolving roller. I comprehend that the elevator was not going anywhere, and we exited from the opposite side of this permanent portmanteau. The adults in the lives of these children should be encouraging this ingenious innovation from these mini minds as often as we can.

vbs3The Vacation Bible School theme this year is Into the Wild while I’m looking at it from a child’s perspective. I walked into the woods with my friends and met some people who worked at the basecamp. They took us through tall trees that stood as high as the building where my mommy works. I saw a bridge that looked like it was hovering over a river with fish in it that sits just after the waterfalls. There were lots of trees and animals all around making everything like a real forest. We could see the sunlight as it peeked through the leaves and tree branches that lit our path to the next area.

vbsOur journey took us first to a new part of the woods that was so big that a million of us fit at one time. Although there were trees all around us, some of the staff had music instruments that they played loudly. The lady in charge taught us a lot of great songs. This music made us dance to music and act silly and have lots of fun. These songs reminded us that Jesus loves us all even my big sister, who could not come to VBS this year. I just want to live here because I am having so much fun.

casdleNext, we went to several different rooms for Storytime, crafts, games, and even ministries. VBS reminds us all always to be good people do good things and that Jesus loves us. After all of the fun things, we went back to listen to more merry music before our parents picked us up.

kidsAs parents, we teach our kids that all-so-famous song that goes “This little light of mine I’m going to let it shine.” The adults need to remember how famous that song truly is to the growth of children. It is essential that we feed their creative minds because we could be looking at the next genius. When you limit their creativity, you could be smothering the light of the next Einstein, Beethoven, Bill Gates, or even Steve Jobs. The history books are full of people who as children were told that they would never amount to anything, and then they proved the nay-sayers wrong.

Play is the highest form of research.

The darkness is overwhelming…

brown bagI received a text telling me of their imminent arrival in approximately thirty minutes. Following a long half hour wait, I heard car doors shutting and voices getting close to my entryway. I whipped my wheels around to answer that famous ding-dong that soon followed as they promptly pushed the doorbell. After their arduous and adventurous eighteen hour peregrination, they walked in carrying fast-casual eats. They brought a big brown bag brimming with bulky burrito bowls from the famous Chipotle down the street.

We all three sat at the kitchen table dining and discussing their challenging trip. The conversation soon turned into a detailed description of moms schedule for the eleven-day visit. I see them once per year and share the time with the seemingly millions of friends that they have here in Columbus. It is always essential for me to get in where I fit in.

darkI cannot see causing me to reach out for help, but there is no one. The light is being blocked by the magnificently majestic amounts of food that they have brought. Like when a cloud blocks the sun, I can only see a few things, and these items are the only ones that I can reach.

20190716_173808For the first few days, my mom continually cooked meals in the crockpot to freeze. For example, on day one, she made enough chili for a family of four with two growing boys. She prepared it and then put it into Ziploc hard containers for the deep freeze. Mom allowed them to cool on the counter and then placed them in the icebox. She then washed the crockpot by hand and prepared to cook something the next day. She is filling my freezer to the brim with plenty of bean soup, chili, chicken noodle soup, and spaghetti.

cpotThe meals that mom has been cooking leaves an amazingly awesome aroma in the air that no TV dinner or cold sandwich could. I wake up the next morning, and this fantastic aromatic breeze still lingers and covers the smell from my air freshener.

“This place looks like you just moved in a week ago,” my mom pointed out. I quickly said that I did move in a week ago plus two months and then add a full year. Here is the thing I am a guy and tend to put very little concern into how my environment looks. Do not misunderstand me because I keep my place very picked up and leave nothing on the floor. I mean I have four wheels on my wheelchair, but I cannot go four wheeling or off-road in my house. Most days, I am focusing all of my time and energy on one of two things, either water and land therapy or this blog.

indexMy mom and Phil helped me hang some pictures on the walls and a valence on my window. She gave me plenty of great design ideas to give my house that comfortable lived in look. I can continue to work on these creative concepts even when she goes home. However, since the internal image of my house sits so low on my priority list, those concepts will not likely come to fruition. Not to mention that at a thousand miles away from my mom’s enthusiastic encouragement it holds little sway over my follow through.

No road is long with good company.

DO NOT TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO!!!

paragraph oneMy buddy came over with a pizza so that we could have a conversation and mastication. We talked about many things, including how my wheelchair life had begun a few weeks earlier. I was deeply discouraged and disheartened at my new station in life, so this was the focus of our colloquy. I allowed my intensely irrational imagination to run wild on how my existence in a wheelchair would look. My profoundly creative brain showed me a purgatory on earth. This perdition would have roads made of gravel and friends and family on a sandy beach that I could not traverse.

3.6 million people in the world over the age of 15 use wheelchairs to assist in their mobility. However, the idea of being stuck in this seated contraption permanently unsettled me to the core. It made me more nervous than boot camp for the Marine Corps. I lived alone in a house that was built in the early 1950s, and it was not remotely wheelchair accessible. I did not have the mandatory moving money to make my residence better. I could see that this new wheelchair life would be a constant uphill battle deeply embedded with my blood, sweat, and tears.

wheelchairI still did not have a way to get in and out of my house using this new wheeled mechanism. My friend happened to know the right person at his church to ask for help with this radically ramping riddle. There were some minor back and forth conversations, trying to figure out exactly what was needed for the requirements of my house. More importantly, we had to wait for winter to end before they could begin construction on my new elevation inclination. Building this big beautiful bridge took four gentlemen an entire weekend to construct.

first aidMy friend, who had been in the Air Force, realized that the best thing that he could do for me was to challenge me. He told me that if I did a 5k race in my chair that he would walk with me, and together we would conquer this beast. This new goal of mine had me searching for a 5k race in Columbus that would fit my needs. This monster had to have a few things like a first aid lodge, bathrooms, and a place at the halfway point to stop and eat lunch. Apparently, for a 3.1-mile race, they do not include those amenities, so I settled for a first aid tent and banana at the end of the race.

Once my new elevated entry was complete, it was time to start training for this complex competition. I knew that I needed a way to track my distance without using a paper map and a ruler. Then I learned the true meaning behind “there is an app for that” as I found a plethora of distance tracking apps. Once the user presses the start button on their smartphone, several things happen. The phone uses GPS and tracks to within twenty-five feet of its fixed location. I found an app that I liked, then I downloaded and set up an account to tally my trip totals.

thOn the first distance trip, I planned on conquering the world or at least traversing a few miles. Sadly it did not take me long to realize that I did not yet have the muscles that a race like this demanded. On day one, I completed an excruciatingly exhausting 0.2 miles. I now understood that this training would take more time than I thought and there were now only four months until race day.

brhsEvery day I wheeled around my neighborhood and watched my distance grow regularly. I met some perfectly pleasant people, and I explained my 5k goal. While I trekked around the community, I celebrated every milestone that I achieved. I saw several people frequently as some walked dogs, and others walked part of my practice trip alongside me. My circuitous route took me around a school several times and all through my neighborhood. I watched as nearly every day and more quickly than I expected my distance crept higher and higher.

The night before the 5k, my friend again brought pizza to palaver and discuss the next day’s procedures. He reminded me to get plenty of sleep that night and to eat somethingin the morning not too heavy. We talked about when he would pick me up and what I would wear for this 3.1-mile marathon.

Four months after starting this dynamic distance drill was game day, it was time to put up or shut up. Now was when I needed to put my big boy pants on and show the world, or at least those that showed up, what I could do. My nerves were shaking more than a guitar string playing heavy metal music.

I spoke with the correct person and requested to start the race early. I was in a wheelchair and move slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, so I wanted to get an early launch. I was hoping for an hour head start but was allowed to leave just after the kids and ten minutes before the runners.

20190630_155227The race was excessively, excruciatingly, exhaustingly long at 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles to be exact. Of all of the wheelchair users that day I came in first place and got my picture in the newspaper. So after exactly four months and one day of training and starting with 0.2 miles, I completed 4.11 miles that day.

When you are told that you can’t, do it and prove that you can.

How much is too much???

bsaThe Boy Scouts and the Marine Corps have both molded me into a man who has never been afraid of hard work. I used to find the point of working too hard and hover dangerously close to that line and only periodically crossing over. Working hard was never good enough, and I would often push it to the extreme always doing a little more. Consistently putting excessive effort into everything that I did and using every ounce of my energy until the job was complete.

However, I now carry a heavy burden called multiple sclerosis that stifles the stride of my progress. At times this awfully alarming affliction can feel like running a marathon while carrying an anvil. This maleficent monster can make necessary movements more challenging than putting an elephant through the eye of a needle. Yet 2.3 million of us brave souls worldwide who are impacted with this torturous tribulation trudge on showing our great strength every day.

I still repeatedly try to push too hard, move too fast and go too far drifting dangerously close to that thin red line. Finding and crossing this line can be devastating and can cause the need for extreme respite. This extended recovery can be as simple as sitting for a few minutes or as significant as being bedridden for several days.

I have done well with my workout routine of three hours a day on three days a week. I had some physical impediments that arrived well over a year ago with very little likelihood of their disappearance. However, I keep moving forward, knowing that my struggles now will help my endurance later. My fitness habits will help me live a longer, healthier, and happier life, causing my MS to flair as little as possible.

wgWhen I return home on the day of my workouts, I am weaker, limiting many of my daily duties. My dinner and evening cleanup is impacted significantly, and my evening tasks are discouragingly diminished. However, my strength slowly returns by the next morning, making that the day that I try to get things done.

I have now added a physical therapy session on each of my two free weekdays. This augmentation makes five consecutive days of strenuous activity that causes conflict for all MSers. So far, the first week has been an intensely debilitating life that is beyond comprehension. This level of tiredness makes me fall asleep quickly but creates a wakeup that is too arduous for understanding. Keep in mind that I have always instantly gotten up when my morning alarm sounds, never believing in the snooze button.

ccSo here I sit contemplating my complicated conundrum. I have been swimming seemingly indefatigably three days a week for the past two years. The day after each swim day, I have a full day of needed respite that I must now fill with more physical activity. My new enigma is how I do both events without crossing that MS line of too much. With multiple sclerosis, that line of too much jumps like a caffeinated Chihuahua making it hard to not pass.

Know your body and listen to it, it will forewarn you.