With love from me to you…

long agoNearly two years ago a friend recommended that I start a blog because of the many unique emails that I sent her. Out of absolute boredom, I packed her email with my creative discourse. I needed a creative outlet of some kind, and a blog was it. In the very beginning, it was basic nonsense and evolved into inventive nonsense on this blog. I was trying to learn about writing using trial and error.

beginEventually, she recommended that I share my MS story on this blog. She told me that it would show others that my life has not always been sunshine and smiling faces. It could also indicate to other MSers how things will get better if they simply hold on. The idea of sharing my story terrified me more than anyone could ever imagine. With the proofreading skills of her and her husband, my writing got the help that was required. I was telling the story of my dark beginning and how that changed significantly for the better.

I have always hoped that my blog would be helpful for people living with MS and others living with a variety of debilitating illnesses. My additional wish is that it can be a window for those without MS to get even a slight sense of what life with MS looks like. I desire that people can see the funny through the fear and how a positive attitude makes everything manageable. I even make a concerted effort to both never complain and to always wear a smile while in public.

After I felt comfortable with writing, I shared my untold MS story in my early blog days in January of 2018. After fifteen months I have received several positive MS stories that astounded me. Little did I know that my ramblings about my MS life could or would touch anyone in a meaningful and life-changing way. I merely wanted to share my story with others and was not expecting very much in return because the initial intent was more about therapy for me. I honestly did not think much of my writing but was told that people with multiple sclerosis might find my experiences helpful. This reality shows me that no matter how little I think of my writing it is beneficial to others.

gbAmazingly, for the past several months I have also been a guest blogger for a national MS magazine online edition. I sent my untold MS story to an MS magazine to ask about publishing the story in hopes of helping others. They told me that they appreciated my story and explained where it would fit in the magazine in time. This woman then asked me if I would be interested in being a guest blogger for the magazine and explained what it would entail. I enthusiastically accepted the pleasant proposition.

In recent weeks I have received several messages or heard from a friend of other MSers who read my blog. Their stories also had dark beginnings, and it astounded me when I was told that their stories turned out positive because of my blog. They were lifted out of their funk or personal situation of darkness from reading my blog. My story of continual perseverance touched these struggling and lost individuals in a meaningful way.

expAt that time I did not know what to expect for this blog, so I kept my expectations low so that I would not be disappointed. I am incredibly moved and honored that my blog writings have positively impacted the lives of other MSers. I will continue to write, and I hope that my blog continues to make a difference in the stories of others.

Make a difference in someone’s life; it takes so little and means so much.

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.

The gripper slipper upper…

I have said it before that you do not know about something in life until it becomes an issue. I did not know anything about multiple sclerosis until it became a big part of my life. At that point, it became a mandatory matter in my existence. After my diagnosis, I knew nothing about wheelchairs until it eventually became a fact in my life. Now it is like putting on proper footwear with your suit before work.

gripI am pleased that I have not dealt with exacerbations in a very long time. Sadly my recent hospital stay that was caused by things going sepsis was not good for me in the least. That medical issue caused my grip strength to slip and weaken. It has also made my arms and legs weaker than I first thought. When your arms are your only source of locomotion even small issues can be life-altering.

It is truly disheartening that I have less strength in my body overall but especially my upper body. Specific movements prove this quite often so let me give you a few examples of “the great weakening” in action.

I was in the SUV of a friend of mine the other day. Getting out of a small SUV like this one was straightforward and took very few steps. I merely turn so that my legs are hanging out of the passenger door. Once my wheeled chariot is placed in the proper position things run rather quick and smooth. I set my feet on the ground, and as I stand my outside knee locks in place. This positioning allows me to stand and pivot to just above the seat, and then I do a controlled fall directly into my chair.

ledge sittingHowever, my weakening legs have not supported a tranquil transition like this for a while now. The muscles in my legs have been weak causing me great trepidation when preparing for the twist and drop. As I turn to stick my legs out and my chair is correctly under me, I hesitate as I feel my legs quietly quiver. I have failed at this movement several times before, and the memories build more deeply rooted terror causing more contemplation and caution. This thought circle creates enough fear that I consider staying housebound. However, I realize that it is a bad idea because I have been there before and it was not good for me. I know that my friend can read the horror in my face and she makes a few reassuring comments. With some assistance, this not so big-bad Marine makes it into the landing zone.

My hands and grip are usually excellent especially for picking things up like my book bag before I go swimming. I generally have no problem lifting my fully loaded backpack off the floor and slinging it over the back of my chair to hang. Brimming with all of my swim and shower gear it can be bulky and hard to handle for some. This bag of mine had not been a challenge for me to manipulate in an extremely long time.

packSince this Great Weakening has begun, picking up this monstrosity has become more of an objectionable ordeal. Now I must search for the proper position for my weak hands to grab this bulky bag. The little hand strength that I do have and the fact that it vanishes faster than fog in the summer sun means that I must work quickly. I must work without haste to hoist my bag onto the back of my wheelchair before my strength disappears.

Not to be left out of the picture my triceps have also become largely languid. Getting up from the floor, for the most part, had been an easy task as of late. I just set my rump on the footplate with my back to the seat. I grab the leg rests and quickly push downward launching my derriere up and back onto the seat. Repositioning myself to the proper place is the part that takes the longest.

Now, this troublesome task is irritatingly impossible. It seems that my triceps do not have the vigor that these muscles did before my hospital stay. I now arrange myself on the footrest to prepare myself for launch onto my chariot. After I rest for two minutes, I correctly grab the leg rests and forcefully press downward hoping to lunge my derriere onto the landing zone. Sadly there is not enough fuel in the afterburners, and I go nowhere. After trying for ten minutes, I get no lift and launch. So I end up using a different and slightly less challenging route to get off of the floor.

good fightThese are just a few examples of how this healing sepsis is still haunting my life. Sadly, I do not know how much my strength will improve or what I will gain back. My goal is to keep moving forward no matter how many hits I take because I cannot stop my life waiting to get better. No matter what any of us are going through we must trudge on fighting the good fight.

We must not wait for someone to save us, but instead, be our own hero.

Chaos cannot win…

thStaying organized in life is very important. It is beneficial to keep all of your doo-dads and doo-hickeys diligently divided so that you can reach them in an instant. The smart choice is to keep your selection of widgets neatly stacked for your convenience. It is essential to keep your entire calendar of events prominently posted for your perfunctory perusal.

As a person with multiple sclerosis, I like to stay obsessively organized. However, things have changed since before I began using technology to aid my memory and systematization.

post itsBefore the utilization of tech I was old school and the inside of my house showed it. Everything was coated in a thick layer of yellow post-it notes reminding me of everything like I was a retired senile scientist. These notes reminded me of the most mundane tasks because at that time depression made sitting on the couch my only priority. These inked notes reminded me of everything including brushing my teeth, meal times and when to check the mail along with many other just as ridiculous reminders. My bills were all piled neatly in three separate stacks. These piles showed what was paid and what was yet to be paid as well as what was still outstanding.

fingerThere is now so much technology to help you stay organized that excuses have gone with the dodo bird. Two point six million apps exist in the Android Play Store, and two million apps reside in the Apple app store reminding us that there is an app for that. These apps can assist you in things such as budgeting, household chore reminders or even when to throw that old app out the window. Gone is the day of tying a string around your finger to remind you of that task that you inevitably forget anyway. The process of writing that to do list on a piece of paper that you soon lose track of is a thing of the past.

goog alexaSmartphones, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Home Pod, computers, tablets and even smart watches all make staying unorganized impossible. We MSers need to find what works best to keep our MS lives formulated and coordinated. Multiple sclerosis causes plenty of mind messes like shoddy short term memory. So we must be aware of our weaknesses and find assistive tools to help us to be the best us that we can be.

With organization comes empowerment.

Poison apple…

poison appleIf you have read any number of my blogs, then you have seen two common themes. First, that is evident is that I have multiple sclerosis. I continually try to let my readers view life from a MSers point of view. I put forth a concerted effort to make my blog informative and honest while allowing the reader to see the humor in life. I like them to be able to understand and maybe even to experience life through my eyes and laughter through the fear.

The second topic is the importance of friends for anyone in life. My blog called “My Untold MS Story” tells how my depression and lack of friends nearly ended my existence. I went through ten years of my life without friendships and can look back to see just how negative that truly was. I experienced the unfavorable impact that a lack of friendships has on an individual. Not having friends forced me to get dangerously close to the edge and almost to see the final curtain call. HOWEVER, that is in my past and never to be faced again.

28943Let us now steer this bus to the sunnier side of the street. A question was recently posed to me: how do I deal with toxic individuals. It is harder to find a definitive definition of toxic people then nailing fog to the wall. There are a plethora of interpretations through examples then there are actual dictionary explanations. Six early warning signs will alert you that you are dealing with a toxic person or ten behaviors toxic people display but no detailed dictionary definition.

Toxic-peopleLet me give you seven examples of toxic people so that you can keep an eye out and hopefully save yourself lots of trouble.
First, there is the Conversational Narcissist. It is all about them.
Next is the straight jacket who is someone who wants to control everything and everyone around them.
The third is an emotional moocher also is known as a spiritual vampire because they tend to suck the positivity out of you.
Next is a Drama Magnet who is one that loves drama.
A fifth is the jealous-judgmental person they are incredibly toxic because they have so much self-hate that they cannot be happy for anyone around them.
There is also the fibber as in liars, fibbers, exaggerators… it’s exhausting to have a toxic deceiver in your life
Next is the human tank who is always right and does not take anyone else’s feelings or ideas into account.

MS is mostly a hidden medical condition because bystanders cannot see many of the symptoms. Symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, and depression are most common, yet they are not visible. These symptoms can also change from minute to minute leading to more doubt, distrust, and disbelief.

I am blessed for lack of a better term because my MS signs are apparent. This conspicuous wheelchair of mine does not allow people to call me dishonest. So the question remains “how do I deal with toxic friends in my life?” Simply said these individuals are not friends and do not last long in my world. I do not have the time or energy nor do I have the desire to forge a relationship with a perniciously poisonous person.

Not only friends can be toxic but family members as well. I cannot imagine a family that is not trusting of another family member, but some stories that I have heard are unfathomable.

One story tells how a mom who meets another person with MS later says to their child who also has MS “why can’t you be more like them.” MS is not a one size fits all condition. Shame on that mother for criticizing how multiple sclerosis controls her child.

I know of children who refuse to see or understand how debilitating their father’s multiple sclerosis truly is. You should care about your parent and take a few minutes to learn even a little about what he or she is going through or what may be to come.

dontWe probably all know someone that is potentially toxic. These individuals tend to bring you down and affect your health and well-being. Do your best to distance yourselves from those who are toxic. Spend time with those who might be toxic less and less being in their presence as little as possible. When possible, surround yourself with positive, supportive people and who care about you. People who are full of sunshine and happiness can make any day brighter. They remind you that you are not fighting this medical condition alone and that your quiver of great friends is full.

Toxic people will pollute everything. Do not hesitate. FUMIGATE.

The fluidity of fitness…

It was brought to my attention that I should consider expanding my fitness horizon. This person recommended that I do both water fitness as well as land exercises. Instead of two and a half to three hours in the water, I should split my time amongst the two. Someone then suggested that I do an hour on land and the rest in the pool.

I was hesitant because there is a freedom for me as my body buoyancy is beneficial in the pool. There are physical limitations on land that vanish in this magical water. These restrictions become outright obstructive when attempting exercises in a wheelchair on land. Then I thought to myself why not at least check out my land-fitness options.

handcycleSo I decided to go and observe my options. The first piece of equipment that I looked at was the hand cycle. I would say that this mechanism is simplicity in motion. I do require someone to adjust the handle height for me since I am four foot tall in my wheelchair. This handcycle is a fundamental movement even for assistance needing person like me. All you need to do is pedal with your hands. This piece of equipment is mostly useful for cardio and endurance. The first piece of land equipment is reasonable and not a bad choice.

ropeThe machine that is directly next to the handcycle is called the infinity rope. It has a rope with some inline pulleys as well as a way to tighten the tension. This machine is also mainly good for cardio and endurance. My problem is that I cannot pull my chair close enough to get a good angle to make it useful to me. So the second piece of land equipment is a no go.

baldAfter those two pieces of equipment things continue to change for the worse for the disabled. At this point, most of the fitness equipment becomes as useless as a hair dryer for a bald guy for us who are wheelchair bound. They have a plethora of other equipment that requires bending, stooping or climbing that we cannot do. To use these devices, we would need several firefighters and a person to direct traffic.

They have a few free-weight dumbbells, but those and the handcycle do not make for a reasonable land fitness routine. Also, to make it more worth my time I would have to transfer to a weight bench, and that is not as easy as one would think. A weight bench is too narrow to be a stable surface.

freedomAlas, it is the pool that I will use for the entire time. It has very few limitations, and I can work around the exigous number of restrictions that do exist. There is a freedom that allows the disabled swimmer to be who he or she cannot be on land. This marvelous water makes it possible for even the ambulatory to move without the weight-bearing limitations of the earth’s gravity. Pool fitness is also better on the joints and in my humble opinion better for super circular heroes or the wheeled wonders.

Find whatever works best for you but do not stop moving your body.

There’s always a little toothpaste still in the tube…

I have come to the realization that I must carefully consider a quest for driving options. It will be a daunting task that will take a while to come to fruition as the Veterans Administration will be involved. There are a plethora of options and directions that one can take an inquisition such as this. Each of these extensive expeditions has its pros and cons. The cost alone will be excessively expensive whatever path that I make in this pedantic process.

drivingThe first task to find an accessible car is to know your specific requirements. The list of amenities that are available for your choice is excessive and abundant. Can you transfer from your wheelchair to the driver seat of a sedan and then back again with the assistance of no one? Now, is it possible to do all of that while from the driver seat tearing down your chair and putting the pieces in the backseat and then back again?

If the answer is yes, then your probe is rapidly concluding. Select the car that is easiest to transfer in and out of, and that is in your budget. Lastly, pick the hand controls that work best for you and have them installed. Your quest is over. You do not have to continue reading, but you should.

However, for the rest of us, this road is a marathon and not a sprint. Those of us who cannot transfer into a sedan one hundred percent of the time without assistance must trudge on. We need to decide two significant things before we take our next step.

The first is do we want a van, an SUV or a pickup truck? Personal style, preference and the size of your bank account will help you decide what kind of vehicle you will get. I am not a truck guy, so that gets knocked off of my list of choices. I am an SUV guy, but my wallet will not allow me to have one.

The second is what does your wallet depth tell you is the best option a new or a used vehicle? Each again has its pluses and minuses or positives and negatives.

Used accessible vehicle means expensive just in a different way when it comes to these adapted automobiles. Let me give an example to get my point across. I saw a 2001 minivan that had a ramp and hand controls for a wheelchair. Without the ramp and hand controls a seventeen-year-old minivan like that would cost $3000. However, this van with these few pieces of accessible equipment is selling for $20,000. Needless to say, used does not mean affordable. I refuse to buy a seventeen-year-old car with seventeen-year-old equipment.

Modification and customization is the name of the game when referring to a new automobile. These changes can range from the massive to the miniscule always depending on your needs and budget. I will give you a few examples of how they both play their role.

fold rampFirst, you must get from the sidewalk into the vehicle meaning you need a ramp. The less costly route is a ramp that you manually manipulate into place by sliding the door open and physically unfolding the ramp.

power rampThe expensive path is a power ramp that slides out of the floor with the push of two buttons. The first knob push is to slide the door open electronically. Toggle two propels a motorized ramp from just beneath the floor.

driving from chairNext, let us consider the driver seat for the person planning to use hand controls. The lower price point option is to have a bracket under your wheelchair and the other half mounted in the driver position. Once these two pieces snap together, then you can lock them in place with a lever, put your seatbelt on, and drive away.

The pricy option is to have a power captain’s chair. These motorized seats will rotate back next to the wheelchair user so that he or she can easily transfer to the driver seat. Once they transfer seats they push another button, and this marvelous mechanism moves them into position to drive.

vanThese brand new accessible cars are beyond expensive. If you purchase a new vehicle and then modify it you void the warranty. Several businesses buy vehicles directly from the manufacturer allowing them to change the cars and still offer a warranty. These vehicles can cost fifty to over seventy thousand dollars depending on the options you choose. These options can solve any issue and deal with any concern that you may have as the possibilities are endless.

With options galore, you can create the car of your dreams.

An attitude of platitude…

gremlinThe muscle spasms in my legs have been more vicious as of late. The minor “twitching and jumping” of before has recently evolved. This once mild-mannered gremlin that started as a monster from a kid’s movie is all grown up. It has developed into a powerful beast that puts the villain of horror movies to shame. While I have been in the pool, these paroxysms have nearly taken me under water several times.

I have now changed my way of thinking in the water and I am more aware of my surroundings. It is imperative that I know where the pool walls are so that I can grab them in that moment of desperation. For that matter, the necessity is there to learn where everything is for that needed instant of self-rescue. The idea of self-reliance is still an essential desire of my goals. This story shows the way that my swim classmates handle my challenging situation. Even when they do not know what to do staying alert and ready with a helping hand upon my request is the way to go.

leg movementI got into the pool a few weeks ago at ten minutes before nine, and things felt ordinary. Little did I know, havoc and chaos would soon show their ugly heads while I was not looking. I began exercising my legs keeping them moving for about an hour. I was shifting them up, down, back, and forth as continual movement is the key. At nine-fifty I decided to swim to the lap lanes to complete a forty-minute session of laps. While I swam my laps, I felt several times my leg muscles stiffen as I towed my lower limbs behind me through the water.

I was swimming my laps while periodically I could feel my leg muscles clench and hold. As I dragged my lower half through the water, I felt them shake like a choking motorboat. Thankfully when the muscle relaxers that I take are fresh in my body, the spasms are less significant though these meds only last for two or three hours.

At ten-thirty I realized that it was time to end my lap swim and I went back to sitting on the bench in the shallow area. The community center has jets built into the pool walls that allow you to massage your sore muscles. These massage ports can help your lower or upper back depending on the one that you use. I sometimes try to use them on my shoulders, but it requires significant manipulation of my body. This complicated contortion is not impossible, but it is also not done with ease.

At a few minutes before eleven, my fellow students and I headed to class. That is when havoc and chaos my twin turbulent troubles blew in to liven up the party. I tend to move in the water backward because in that direction I am strongest. As I glided through the water, my legs emphatically and abruptly locked up forcefully floating them upward. This spasm thrust me onto my back and nearly pushed my head below water. At this point, I had no control as I tried to upright myself. A technique of sweeping my hands upward in the water forcing my head and chest out of the water was taught by my instructor one day. However, my legs were so stiff that even though I tried this skill several times, there was no success. Eventually, I was able to grab the wall and twist around and get myself in a vertical position.

This spasm was a mild case that did not occur during class. Thankfully my fellow students know how to deal with my obtrusive outbursts. Everyone seems to accept my problematic positioning in their way. Honestly, I could not tell you how everyone acted as I was focusing on not panicking and trying to keep my head above water literally. Several times the instructor has helped me get near the wall and upright when I have been in the middle of class. After a few minutes, my legs seemed to calm down allowing me to join the class once again.

eye rollOn the other hand: while I am in public some people get an annoyed look on their faces like my slowness disturbs them. Occasionally, they reluctantly hold doors open for me showing visual “tells” that they do not want to be there. Microexpressions and body language both let me know their true feelings. Some people are easier to read than The Cat in the Hat book.

slowSome people cannot be bothered to take those few extra seconds to be helpful. These individuals feel that if they show kindness just one time, they will be significantly inconvenienced. I continue to be flabbergasted by the inpatients of others. They do not realize that everyone is a mouse hair away from their personal life-altering situation.

Be kind to everyone because it could be you who is in a bad situation someday.

Load your quiver…

quiverA friend told me one time that life is war. It is a battle between good and evil a fight between right and wrong. If that is the case, then multiple sclerosis is a beefed-up war on Solu-Medrol AKA steroids. This situation means that you should not go into battle with just anyone by your side.

laughingYou should load your ranks with individuals who will help with no hesitation or haste. You want positive and understanding people to back you. You need cohorts who are unquestioningly positive and can turn a bad situation into a funny story. Your quiver should be laden with supporters who in the depths of sorrow can make you cry out loud from laughter.

friendsIf negative human impacts are money, multiple sclerosis is a very rich adversary. I know that this is a pessimistic way to look at life. Some might say that it is even an extremely cynical outlook on life. No matter if you agree with the theory that life is war or you think that it is “kittens and rainbows” one part is correct. You need good friends to help with the defective times and share in the excellent times.

In life you should not try to make it on your own as good friends make everything better.

A slow death…

aaaback in my dayWhen I was younger, I made fun of any of the elders in my life that would make statements of how life used to be. They might say something to the effect of “back in my day” or “when I was a kid.” However, now that I am more mature I tend to make those same comments frequently. So if you are an old person, you can laugh at this blog post, and if you are a young individual, you can roll your eyes as I did “back in my day.”

I was taught as a young boy the importance and value of a good handshake. “A man’s handshake is his word,” they said. I was taught to have a firm but not crushing grip while making direct eye contact. They told me “when shaking hands smile appropriately” reminding me that a pleasant expression comes across and means so much. The unwritten consensus seems to show that a proper handshake is at least one up and down movement of the clasped hands. Sadly, a person’s handshake does not have the same meaning of trust and honesty that it once had.

fistSince I have been in this wheelchair, I have seen the handshakes significance slip. I am sadly aware that its importance has been lost and the meaning has been debased and devalued. It has been reduced to only a fundamental greeting and in most cases dropped to a basic fist bump if not just a head nod. SIDE NOTE: I understand the necessity of the fist bump during cold and flu season I am not a monster.

fingertipWhen I meet someone for the first time, I reach out with an outstretched hand to signify this proper etiquette of a bygone era. Individuals who do not know me many times have given me the “fingertip” handshake. This practice annoyed me a little in the beginning because of my feelings towards “proper protocol procedures.” I soon realized that people who do not know me fear the unknown. These individuals do not know what it is that they do not know and in many cases, they fear a handshake with me and my wheeled brethren.

A friend recently introduced me to someone. I felt that it did not go as well as a first handshake does typically. She took my outstretched hand and rapidly did a half shake in the downward movement then let go. It felt as if it quickly turned into a cross between a half handshake and a “let go, man, I do not want to catch your cooties!” Did she honestly feel like that? I seriously doubt it, and that is why I said it felt that way.

handshake“Your word is your bond, and the handshake seals the deal,” they told me. Now it seems that your word and handshake no longer has trust, honesty, and faith to stand behind them. The phrase “my word is my bond” is now a punchline in a joke that brings comedy not conviction. I do not feel that this is limited to wheelchair users as this etiquette of yesteryear dies a slow death.

The only constant in life is change.