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.

Visibly invisible…

I find it annoying when other people are with me in public. Let me explain so that you can see things from my point of view. It is not because I do not want to spend time with people because I absolutely do. My perfectly perplexing problem is that I quickly become invisible with others around. I have found that if I do not speak first, I get ignored like last year’s Christmas toys. Here are a few examples of stories so that you can understand my daunting dilemma. aaa invisable

My dad happened to be with me at the bank as I was trying to authenticate and then close a loan account. Right away it started with the banker ignoring me and talking directly to my dad. This attitude was after he explained that this was my account and he was merely transportation. I wanted to nip this in the bud before we got too far into the conversation. I quickly spoke up and said “why don’t you talk directly to ME about MY account? I live alone and handle my bills on my own like a big boy.” I tried to stay polite, but I had a slightly sardonic sound. I got a glance of surprise as well as a cross between a smile and a look of sympathy. However, I think that she finally got it.

aaa houseAt the inception of the house building process for my new home both my parents at different times drove me to the builder’s offices. I still had not said yes, and there were unanswered and unasked questions. Somehow the saleswoman had gotten my mom’s phone number and left a message with her voicemail. The sales rep was calling with some issues that were mine to answer. My mom did not return the call and simply made me aware of this perplexing problem.

I called the saleswoman back and recommended that she look at the application. I politely encouraged her to notice that neither of my parents had their names on the form. I made her aware that it was only my name on the paperwork stating that all questions should go to me. I explained that I would be living alone repeating that neither parent will be living with me. Then as respectfully as I could, I said: “again from now on please direct all queries to me.” I tried to hold it back, but sadly I had a slightly snide sound.

My dad had driven me around all morning, so I offered him lunch. We pulled into the Chipotle parking lot, and we went in and got in line. They were not extremely busy, so we did not have to wait long. I was buying so I went first. As I got to the cashier, she kept looking at my dad. I said that ours were together and handed her my debit card. She rang everything up and then started to give my debit card to my dad. I said loud enough that she was sure to hear “that is MY card that I just handed to you. You can hand it back to ME since I gave it to you.” My annoyance and frustration came out in an extremely embitter tone.aaa chipotle

I could stand on my soapbox and tell hundreds of stories like these, but I would start to sound like I was whining. The truth is that when in public the guy or gal in the wheelchair typically gets ignored. If I do not speak first, I tend to get talked “about” but not spoken “to.” Society is getting a little better at accepting the disabled in everyday life. Sadly, we still have a long way to go as individually people have a plethora of unnecessary concerns.aaa soapbax

Treat everyone including the disabled with the same respect as the CEO.

Not simply slight sadness…

aaa-depressionThere are many causes and degrees of this deep sorrow called depression. The source of depression can be anything like a medical condition such as multiple sclerosis and its side effects or symptoms. Postpartum depression can rear its ugly head to mothers soon after childbirth. A deep sadness after the loss of a loved one can be genuinely debilitating to one’s life for months after. These issues may seem like they have little in common, but they are far from dissimilar.

There is a stigma about depression that causes misinformation, and this lousy message gets spread like wildfire. Those who have or are currently going through some form of depression are not weak. Most times they feel alone and need friends and family to be there in their time of struggle. They need encouragement and given a reason to laugh, joke and to see that they are neither abnormal nor alone. I hope that this blog can help others do the right things to let these deeply mournful individuals know that they are loved and that depression is real.

aaa-holeThis guy is walking down the street when he falls into a hole. The walls are so that he can’t climb out. A doctor walks by, and the guy says “hey doc can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription throws it down into the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts “hey father can you help me? I’m down in this hole and I can’t get out.” The priest writes a prayer throws it into the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, and the guy shouts “Joe can you help me out I’m down in this hole, and I can’t get out.” The friend jumps down into the hole, and the guy says “what are you stupid? Now we are both stuck down here in this hole.” And the Joe says “yeah but I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out.”

I have learned one simply supreme certitude in my years of multiple sclerosis. Having excellent mental health means you will likely have positive physical health and vice versa. To possess total vigor in your life, you need mind, body, and spirit working together in absolute harmony. Each one is like a cog in a motor so if one stops working eudemonia will cease possibly causing irreparable harm.

For me, my depression was a dark and lonely place causing me to become a recluse. Although I rarely had the opportunity to get out of the house the possibility periodically presented itself. When the opportunity arose, I always refused because I felt shame. I did not want to be seen in public and this caused my refusal.

Just as rare was the opportunity to talk with people. My social skills were limited because I was lonely, grumpy and bitter so I did not want to engage in conversation. I had an abrasive attitude that was relentless. When I look back, my loneliness bred this bitterness making people not want to put up with me. This personality made people avoid me as if they owed me money.

aaa-hulkI would say that to get through the hard shell someone needed to be there to hear my pain. Someone needs to be there more than once a month as this “on-again-off-again” friendship is not enough. This need is because that “once a month relationship” allows too much time to return to the anguish-filled hostile personality. If someone is there more frequently that Incredible Hulk acrimonious attitude will wear down and the calm Bruce Banner will return. aaa-banner

I should have been doing some exercise or any kind of regular body movement to preserve the muscles that I had. The problem was that I merely sat on the couch waiting for the end. I was eager for the conclusion of the closing curtain call but was not willing to deal with the self-completion consequences. At this point, I felt loneliness, shame, and coward-ess.

aaa-fitnessI only have anecdotal evidence to confirm my hypothesis on this matter. However, when I palaver with people that regularly exercise they reveal that they feel better soon after they begin their workout. Some individuals disclose that when they first got off the couch to start a training regimen, it was a challenging chore. During my “dark days,” I did not make my body move, and I deteriorated until my wheelchair bondage set in. All of this proves that a positive mind and body need each other like a rowboat needs a lake. Depression is a challenging topic because of the numerous degrees and forms of this severely somber sadness.

Be there for a friend in need and be a great friend indeed.

loser…

I said it in an earlier post that when you want to accomplish something, you need to think about it carefully. You need to decide how badly you want it and consider what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve this goal. Remember that most times in life there is a give and take no matter what situation you are involved in. However, with most medical conditions this choice can be detrimental to one’s health and well-being.

aaa weeblwobleDo you want fashionable athletic shoes or the hideous Velcro footwear? The favorite sports shoes are stylish, but it takes your fumbling fingers longer to tie them then Thanksgiving dinner. Do you want those spectacular high heels that make you look breathtaking along with that dress? Or do you want to stand without continually falling because MS weeble-wobbles we are not. aaashoes 2aaa shoes

There have been numerous losses in my recent MS life. I have sacrificed plenty to accomplish all of the swimming that I have achieved. I have lost the ability to stand and dress using the grab bar in my bathroom. I now get dressed on my bed while pulling, rolling and generally playing tug-o-war with my pants until they are on correctly. aaa tug o war

There are other battles that I seem to be losing as well. The first is between my feet and me as my outside ankle muscles are weakening by the day. This deterioration causes my feet to rotate upward when in a spasm or a tired state. I have specific exercises to aid my fight in this battle of one step forward and one step back. I suppose that the good part is that my feet are not getting worse. Sadly they are also not getting better.aaa feet

Secondly, my hourly leg squats routine has diminished significantly. I have great trepidation in doing these because of falls in the past. It is great that I live alone because when I do fall it is not in front of people. However, I will find a wife someday, and this solitary and secluded life of mine will change.

I would guess that this lessening of my routine is also partly due to the size of my new house. My new home is over 1500 square feet compared to my old house at 1000 square feet. Every point in my old house was extremely close to where I did my exercising as I did them in a central location. Currently, the place that I spend the most time and where I exercise these points are at a considerable distance from each other.

The definition of a loser is a person who losses. In this case, I know that I have lost some things and could technically be called a loser, but I have gained more than I have lost. My losses though significant have been well worth the sacrifice. At the same time, there have been several substantial gains as my body has become stronger. My new upper body power helps me with everyday tasks and complications that I face both expected and unexpected. Also, the emotional gains have been tremendous, and in turn, they too have been worth these losses.

If you do not sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice.

No illness indictment this time…

I have fought with MS for nearly twenty years through an undeterminable tug of war. This major battle rages on as it leaves deep-rooted physical, mental and emotional scars with no care for me. Multiple sclerosis may catch me off guard or by surprise at times but I usually rebound much more quickly. However, in its world full of the unknowns and uncharted territories being occasionally flabbergasted is an absolute probability.

aaa top dogI say all of that to say this; the real shock is that multiple sclerosis is not always to blame for my disheartening debilitating dilemmas. This situation is not a fight over the territory of my body and MS reigns as Top Dog. I can and have been sick with other medical issues though they have been few and far between. Typically they have been minor issues, but the following story shows that sometimes extreme Non-MS cases occasionally arise.

I woke up on Tuesday, and something felt way off. It was like I had a loose wire and my brain signals were not connecting. I tried to turn onto my side to turn my alarm off causing a challenge of massive proportion. After five minutes that dastardly decision was done. My alarm finally was silenced. This issue again alerted me of some physical error that was causing complicated chaos.

The procedure that follows is typically a simple one as I shimmy on my back to the edge of the bed. I then smoothly sit up pulling on my bed covers to aid my rise before I do my fling and flop onto my chair. However, this day I was not so lucky. This time I was going to have a rude awakening.

I shuffled with great difficulty to the edge of the bed. I grabbed my bedcovers as usual and pulled hoping to again pull myself to a sitting position on the side of the bed. My muscles were excessively weak and I did not have the strength to pull myself upright. I continued to lie on my back at a perfect distance from the foot and head of my bed as to not allow me to grab the headboard or footboard. I fought for an hour rolling side to side trying to lunge myself upward and into a sitting position. I looked like a turtle on his back with no chance of recovery.aaa turtle back

aaa grmblingEventually, I realized that my stubborn, bullheaded ways could only take me so far. I decided that I needed to call for help, but this was in the daytime meaning that everyone was at work. Let me state for the record that I have never required calling anyone for help. As an independent, self-sufficient guy I never want to be that needy guy that people dread talking to. I never want people to see me approaching and dreadfully wonder “what does he want this time?” However, sometimes unexpected illnesses can eliminate all other options. Hopefully, the goodwill seeds that I have planted have grown enough to help win others over. Maybe others will be willing to overlook this new blemish on my record.

I texted a friend from down the street I knew that he was retired and hoped that he was home. He arrived a few minutes later and contemplated this confusing conundrum before him. Sitting me up would be easy but getting me into my wheelchair would be a difficult endeavor. After some struggle we had success as I was now sitting in my wheelchair.

Properly positioned, in my wheelchair, I was faced with the new struggle of self-propulsion. To depend on me on any typical day is easy though today is not normal. I could not tightly grip my push rims making pushing myself an arduous task. I slowly and carefully pushed myself into the kitchen and got some water. Thankfully my friend was still there so that he could open a protein bar for me of which I ate very little of by the end of the day.

He stayed with me for an additional thirty minutes or so. I explained that to eliminate the risk of a fall I would not move. However, just after he left, I spilled my water onto the floor, and as I tried to clean it up, I flipped out of the chair. At this point, my phone was on the table entirely out of my reach though I struggled to get it with no success.aaa no move

aaa cant get up[Then I remembered that I could make phone calls using my Google Home device and my voice. “OK, Google call…” I shouted. It asked me if I wanted to call his home or cell phone. We live in pretty amazing times so there was no need to own life alert although I had fallen and I could not get up. You have to be able to see the humor in everything in life.

He came back from his very short respite and was befuddled and bewildered by my new bearings. Sitting me upright in my bed was much easier than picking up 140 pounds of dead weight and putting it in my wheelchair. We struggled for several minutes trying to position and then reposition me and my chariot for the best floor to chair lift. Thank God he has a strong back as success came after ten minutes of this terribly torturous tussle.

My friend left again, and I did not move until another friend came to assemble some furniture that evening. I called 9-1-1 at about 6:40 pm when my other friend showed up. I imagine that he was pretty surprised because when he called to let me know that he was on his way, I used all of my reserves not to sound sick. After what seemed like forever the ambulance showed up and started to check all of my vitals and thus began the trip to my first hospital stay.aaa 911 2

Listen carefully to your body because it will not wait for you to hear it

The final countdown…

This is my latest blog for the MS Association blog website. I decided that I would save everyone time by reducing the needed clicks for anyone who is interested in reading it. This means that it is posted here and there is no need to visit https://blog.mymsaa.org/7-things-for-MS-independence/ to read it. The given topic was New Year new beginnings so sit back relax and read my twist on this MS topic.

We are in the time of year that we hear many top ten countdowns. These top charts rank everything from music to cell phones and from movies to kitchen equipment. Here are some of my own top things in my life. Of course, I will not be saying goodbye to these items unless something better comes along. As for these irreplaceable items in my life, there is a bountiful list and here are seven.

aaa-wheelchairLet me start with my wheeled chariot. Without this magical manual mechanism, I would be bedridden and merely be waiting for the end. It helps me to stay active by requiring me to propel myself from one place to another. It is essential to keep the body in motion, and my chair demands that I do just that.

My microwave helps me to keep my independence. This programmable product provides by allowing me to cook the sustenance that I need to stay alive. I also do not have to stand above it to peer in, meaning that my microwave cooks at my eye level. I have even figured out how to cook dry pasta and not merely reheat it. I love spaghetti.

My smartphone and internet banking are essential for keeping my self-reliance. I am a private person with problematic penmanship. Internet banking eliminates the need for check writing to pay my bills. It also means that I do not need to wait for my monthly statement to verify my banking activity. aaa phone

My computer and smart technology are both paramount to my true freedom. When connected to my smartphone or computer all technology that I use can be activated even from a distance. It also makes these tasks simple to complete. Wi-Fi connectivity means that I can be anywhere in the world as long as there are internet and Wi-Fi.

aaa musicMusic of all genres is vital to my total well-being. With no music the silence of my house is deafening. As I roll around my house, I do not merely want to hear the noise of the television. I enjoy the rhythmic and melodious sounds of music echoing throughout the halls of my house.

The community center swimming pool and my swim instructor are imperative to my life. The pool has made me a stronger person both physically and mentally. This strengthening ensures that my daily tasks are possible for both brain and body. My instructor taught me how to use the pool fitness equipment to build the muscles that I depend on daily.aaa-pool

Although not things, my “fortitude and tenacity” are fundamental to my existence. My attitude and ability to “adapt and overcome” the adversities that are before me have made me a better person. It has made every breath that I take exceptional and worth having.

The above is a list of the “top seven” things in my life. These are just a few of the things that I cannot live if I did not have in my life. As you can see if any one of these items were not in my world it would be much more laborious and burdensome. As we enter into the New Year, we have many new and exciting opportunities. Are you ready?

Find the things that can jumpstart your journey to the independence that you deserve.

*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.