What’s in a name???

This blog is not MS themed, but I was reminiscing and thought it would be a good story to share. Many people, including a published author, have read my blog and suggested writing a book based on my blog and MS life. However, this story would not be in the book if there were to be one, though I am not sure I will write one. I hope you enjoy reading about my childhood memories as much as I enjoyed living them. During this happy yet hectic holiday season, I hope everyone stays safe and has a very merry Christmas and a joyous and jubilant New Year. I have family visiting, so I will post previous blogs through the holiday season.

What’s in a name???

I was very active in the Boy Scouts when I was a boy. So it was extremely common to find me packing for a camping trip as our Boy Scout Troop camped once per month. I enjoyed being surrounded by Mother Nature to meditate in her awe-inspiring beauty. These trips allowed me to escape the troublesome topics of my childhood and let me contemplate conundrums as they arose. I would, of course, have everything resolved by the end of the weekend like a TV sitcom. 

At one of our Scout meetings, our leaders said we would be inviting our moms on a moms camping trip. The scoutmasters wanted the mothers to see what their sons did and how they lived on a camping trip. Our leaders advised us to share with our moms they would be staying in the camp lodge. They warned us the boys would be cooking one meal of foil dinners for the moms. How scary and exciting this adventure would be for our moms and us.

I suppose I was in my own little world as I packed, although others might simply say I was oblivious to everything. I had a camping preparation procedure making packing a very systematic endeavor and I knew every time a particular leader went camping with us, it was guaranteed to rain. Since this adult was going camping that weekend, bad packers would have to work with wet woes and by then, I had been in the scouts for several years and could not make errors like that so I had to stand out as a positive example for the new boys.

Mike’s mom was driving both of the mothers, Mike, and me, down to the camp for the weekend. When Mike and his mom Sandy showed up, I loaded my pack into the trunk and got into the car. When Sandy saw my mom’s overnight bag, she asked, “Where are your things like a sleeping bag and shower items?” My mom explained she did not need it because they were sleeping in a lodge. My mom was sent back inside to get at least a couple of blankets and towels, and although baffled and bewildered, she complied. Little did my mom know what chaos would ensue during the weekend.

As we arrived at the camp, Mike and I grabbed our gear full of sleeping bags, clothes, and other necessities. We then began our conventional campsite construction routine, looking for a spot to set up our patrol tents and box loaded with our patrol needs. There was a requirement to find the correct location for the campfire to avoid trees and eliminate the risk of a forest fire. We were genuinely unaware of the developing discord the mothers were contending. 

The mothers arrived to see the retired rickety Boy Scout first aid lodge, which seemed to be held up only by force of habit. This rundown leftover hospital lodge was where they would live for the next three challenging days and two arduous nights. The moms walked in to find some rusted old hospital-style beds complete with plastic-covered mattresses from the 1970s. There was a layer of thick green mold in the sink and a chunky coating of blue-green mold in the tub to complete this science experiment structure gone gross. The lodge also had running water because outside, it rained significantly; the roof was punctured severely, and the ceiling leaked profusely. This excessive rain caused a flowing stream in the middle of the temporary ramshackle residence.

It horrified my mom, as she was ill-prepared mentally or gear-wise to deal with this ludicrous lodging. Finally, the moms slept on top of the mattresses on the cement floor. This idea was questionable because the floor had a small stream from all the rain—no wonder the other mothers were smirking behind my mom’s back. Well, at least she brought a blanket and her pajamas but it would be an extremely long weekend.

Saturday night for dinner, the boys made foil dinners for the moms. These aluminum packets had a hamburger patty and cut veggies with sliced potatoes made a full meal for one. The boys salted the foil packs, sealed them tightly, and placed them on hot coals to cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Although they were getting used to their new sleeping quarters, no meal cleanup took the sting from the crummy conditions. The moms felt filled with pride to see their sons in their element, and later, they enjoyed the activities around the campfire as well.

The mom’s camp-out was fun for the moms and the sons alike as the boys were in their element. The boys got some unforgettable, memorable, and hilarious stories we can tell our friends and children for the rest of our lives. My mom was the best because she gave us a list of funny material that would last well into adulthood.

Trust but clarify and verify by questioning everything.

The bee’s knees for me… 

I have seen a plethora of people on the internet, like YouTubers doing videos listing the top ten things in their lives. Each list is the essential items in their lives that add buoyancy and balance in a world smeared in a clunky coat of caustic careless Me-ism. These top charts detail everything important to them, from Yoga mats to yogurt snacks, headphones to smartphones, and even music players to music makers. So here is my list of irreplaceable items that make my life moderately manageable in my multiple sclerosis-loaded world.

1. Let me start with unquestionably the most essential item and the love of my life: my wheeled chariot. Without this magical manual mechanism, I would be bedridden and merely waiting for the end. I could do nothing without my wheelchair because I use it as my legs to get me from point A to point B. This chair helps me stay active by requiring me to propel myself from one place to the next. Keeping the body in motion is essential for everyone in life, and my chair demands I do just that. As I often say, move whatever you can as much as you can for as long as you can.

2. My microwave and hot plate help me stay independent and self-sufficient by making mealtime preparation easy. This pair of programmable products properly provides me the ability to cook the sustenance I need to merely stay alive. I do not have to stand above and peer into any cooking vessel, meaning this dynamically dazzling duo does everything at my eye level. At the same time, I am comfortably and safely seated in my wheelchair. I have even figured out how to cook dry pasta in the microwave without trying to maneuver a big pot of boiling water unsafely.

3. Internet banking is essential for keeping me in motion and encouraging me to stay self-sufficient in dealing with my money matters. I am a private person with problematic penmanship, and this cyberspace money place eliminates the need for check writing for things like paying bills. Furthermore, having instant up-to-date access to all banking activity is indispensable to stay on top of issues such as avoiding overdrawn accounts.

4. The local public transportation system for individuals with disabilities is imperative to make my soul simply satisfied. This transport operation is a minivan service that picks me up at my door and drops me off wherever I need or desire to go. The procedure is for a single client at a time, meaning there is no need to play the wheelchair shuffle at each stop. It is an outstanding operation opening the city to the disabled masses at relatively affordable prices, leaving no excuses but to get out.

5. The public library app is the next item that is a pretty paramount practice in my pilgrimage through life. I read books often, and the way for me to become a leader in literary learning is to use my library app. The app gives customers access to borrow nearly 200,000 free audiobooks, which is why I am thankful for this book repository. The free catalog of books makes me wonder why paid services to listen to audiobooks exist. However, even if you don’t have a local library, it is an app you can still use for free audiobooks. In addition, I understand their digital catalog frequently grows, which is why I continually use this fantastically free function.

6. My blog is also something that is meaningful for my mental mellowness and wellness. This writing process allows me to focus on productivity and positivity, not idleness and negativity. I could easily sit on the couch in my pajamas eating bonbons watching soap operas, which would lead to total body degradation. Many years ago, I did just that and watched my multiple sclerosis-riddled body deteriorate severely, so I never want to do that again. Instead, my writings allow me to verifiably vent and shamelessly share my experiences and maybe give others a nuanced understanding of how it feels to live with MS.

7. During this covid world, Zoom allows me twice a week to stay connected, benefiting my cognitive contentment. This interaction is via video conferencing with others from all over the globe, enabling me to feel less isolated. I live alone and get very little human connection, and this conference call grants me the ability to have much-needed communication where otherwise there would be very little. Email and texting are not terrible options, but Zoom is better for the psyche and gives a visible and verbal connection like nothing else.

8. My smartphone, computer, and intelligent technology are paramount to my true freedom. I can activate all astute automation remotely when connected to my smartphone or computer. It also makes these tasks simple because my wheelchair makes it difficult to do some things manually, and a verbal request to my smart speaker solves that. In addition, Wi-Fi connectivity means I can be anywhere globally as long as there is broadband.

9. The World Wide Web itself encourages me to maximize my life in various ways. The internet connects me to the outside world and makes all intelligent technology that controls my house possible. For example, my smart speakers are truth seekers, and being connected to the web helps them keep the peace in my writings. Some of my window blinds are electric because my chair footprint eliminates the possibility of manual control. I have connected lights, automated locks, and a TV that is smart, and also a clock. 

10. Music of all genres is vital to my total well-being because, with no music, the silence of my house is deafening. So, as I roll through my house, I do not merely want to hear the noise of the television as some people desire. Instead, I enjoy the rhythmic and melodic sounds of music echoing throughout the halls of my house.

A bonus 11th. Although not things, my fortitude and tenacity are fundamental to my existence. My ability to adapt and overcome the adversities set before me has made me a stronger and wiser person. It has made every breath I take exceptional and worth having, continuing to make me better, not bitter. As a perfectly pleasant person, my relationship with strangers and others alike is happier and healthier.

The above is a list of the essential items in my life I could not live without, both figuratively and, sometimes, literally. If any of these items were not in my world, it would be a much more laborious, morose, and darker existence in which I would not want to be involved. A friend once said: if you found something that could make your life 10% better, would it be worth it to you? These items make my life 100% better and are well worth the cost for me.

Find the things that can improve your life, even if only 10%.