Individuals inculcating inspiration…

This is another blog that I did for the MSAA.

pan and pupsSomeone recently told me that I was an inspiration to them, but I do not feel like an inspiration. This person explained to me that I have a great attitude. They shared that I have an excellent positive disposition despite the numerous adversities that were placed in my path. They do not realize that my life is not pansies and puppies especially when dealing with my MS. These compliments make me think that the definition of inspiration might be nebulous. The following stories tell the tales of those who are inspirational individuals to me.

There is a soldier named Travis Mills. He came back from the Iraq war after an IED explosion. He was the fourth quadruple amputee that came back from this brutal battle. Everyone would have understood if he played the “sympathy card” upon his return. However, that is far from the case.

toughWith his wife and family by his side, he now does more in a day than most of us do in several days. He talks with all of the returning veterans mostly focusing on the severely wounded. He has a fitness training regimen rivaled only by die-hard fitness junkies. He also wrote a book sharing his life story and often does book signings as well. This amazingly inspirational book is called “Tough as They Come.” Travis shows that nothing can stand in your way when you have the will to keep walking forward.

There is another man who was on the X-Factor named Immanuel who is physically debilitated. Immanuel was born in a war-torn country. Later as an infant, he was adopted by an American family. Even though he is ambulatory, his legs and arms are in bad shape physically. He stood on the X-Factor stage with a slight tilt and sang “Imagine” by John Lennon beautifully. Faced with all of life’s difficulties Immanuel stood up and stood out letting nothing block his path.

Kanya SesserThere is a woman Kanya Sesser who was born in Thailand. When she was born with no legs, her parents abandoned her at the hospital. An American couple later adopted her. She grew up and became a model, skateboarder, surfer, and a snowboarder. Kanya does not let the challenge of no legs slow her down and rolls through life with a smile.

nvThere is another fellow named Nick Vujicic. He was born with no legs or arms and became a powerful motivational speaker. When confronted with his physically challenging life he did much more than anyone would have imagined. He speaks all over the world reminding people never to give up. Nick shows that with a compelling story and steady voice nothing can talk you onto the ledge.

I will also mention the many people that I often see at the gym in seemingly lousy shape, and they still show up. There is a guy who I always see walking at a ninety-degree angle bent at the waist, and he is there at least three days a week. One gentleman walks with a limp at an angle that makes me think that the wind from mosquito wings will knock him over. There is also a small waif of a woman who I see working out as hard as someone half her age and she is over seventy years old.

The list of infirmed individuals that I have seen at the gym is too lengthy to list yet they inspire me every day. We all have obstacles in our lives, but it is how we deal with them that make us who we are. I do not know about you, but I do not want to look back at my life and say that “I wish I had” or “I could have.” If these individuals can overcome the significant obstacles that they were dealt of no legs, no arms or even both then why can we not do the same? I will continue to find ways to overcome the conditions that life challenges me with. I cannot sit idly by while these individuals are living full lives with the struggles that they have been dealt while my difficulties look minuscule next to theirs.

If you can’t find inspiration be an inspiration.

Satisfactory survival sustenance…

muppets chefPeople periodically ask me if I can cook and what do I like to cook. I tell them that things are pre and post MS for me now. For example, I could cook very well pre MS, and I received many appreciative accolades when I did cook. I explain that I began from a young age to prepare meals using the stove and oven. I was not merely assembling bologna sandwiches on the counter. From the age of thirteen, I was cooking for my mom so that when she got home from work, she could simply sit and scarf.

Since we did not have cable, I vigilantly viewed many of the cooking shows on public broadcasting television. I carefully watched these shows drinking in every drop of education that they served. I learned the difference between making onions translucent and sautéing them. I was taught how to sear, stir-fry and even when to bake or broil. These instructors shared to steam and not boil your veggies as you should be able to eat them with a fork and not drink them through a straw.

young chefI learned so much about cooking as a young boy that I became pretty good at it, so cooking became second nature to me. It was as easy as tying one’s shoes. I cooked not only for my mom and sometimes friends but also as other situations would arise. I was extremely good at both cooking and baking doing whatever the case demanded.

At this young age, I was so creative with my provision preparation that others were amazed that a middle schooler cooked it. I made magical meals like an open-faced beef patty and broccoli sandwich that was topped with provolone cheese. I knew to steam the broccoli so that it was hot but not mushy and how to superbly season with salt. My high school teacher got married in my freshman year. As a fourteen-year-old boy I gave her a gift basket in celebration of her wedding. This gift had a loaf of my homemade of zucchini bread, homemade chicken noodle soup and a bottle of sparkling wine.

My MS and laziness have eliminated the idea of actual cooking from my brain‘s post medical condition. I am lazy because I am one person and do not want to deal with the hassle of cooking or cleanup for just me. My multiple sclerosis put me in my charming chariot making stovetop or oven use literally as well as figuratively out of reach.

“So what pray tell do you eat?” was their query. I explained that it depends on the moment and how I am feeling, meaning how much energy do I have. Let me give a few examples of some of my current go-to meals. Keep in mind that even though I mostly eat frozen meals, I will skip all TV dinners, frozen burritos, and cold breakfast cereals as well. I have stepped up my game from the days of eating poorly since I had no money to now that I am in a much better place mentally and financially.

cornGo to meal number one: I put about one cup of frozen precooked diced chicken into a bowl and microwave for one minute. Next, from the refrigerator, I get my oil and vinegar salad dressing of choice and parmesan cheese. I then open drain and dump in a bowl one can of sweetcorn and add chicken. At that point, I add the amount of salad dressing that I prefer and stir then add the cheese. Lastly, I get a starch like a slice of bread, pretzels or crackers and serve with a side of seltzer water.

Meal number two: a package of frozen salmon fillets that I put on a plate, cover with wax paper and microwave for four minutes and thirty seconds. After the filets are done cooking I set them on the table to let them cool. Next, I cook dried pasta in the microwave twelve minutes total. Then I cut the fish into bite-size pieces. Serve the pasta with salmon mix everything with salad dressing and a side of seltzer water.

chickenMeal number three: first I cook in the microwave boil in bag rice and set it on the counter to rest. I place six precooked frozen meatballs in a bowl, and I cook them for sixty seconds. I have always been a bread snob and have always bought great bread that can handle a meatball sandwich. Then I season the rice typically with oil and vinegar dressing and serve it all with a side of seltzer water.

34Thanks to WOSU television my education was extensive and varied. I saw these Italian, Mexican, Japanese and even southern chiefs cook foods from all over the world. My mom, of course, fed me well through my childhood as I always had three meals every day of my childhood. However, there were many times when she was still at work and would not come home just to make me a snack. That was abuse if you ask me. I ate great goodies during those times because I had the needed skills to cook and the required appetite to eat.

If all else fails, there is cold cereal.

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.