More moving mayhem…

One step forward and two steps back is the typical quote we all hear, as we can see the examples every day in our lives. So far, I confirmed this statement in the beginning half of my turbulent transition, where things continued to move sporadically, good and bad. My anxiety level was high, and my body began physical actions detrimental to my daily living in retribution for this. Some things were going well, and others were busy going poorly and off the rails, causing more trepidation deep within my being.

Tackling this endeavor of moving one thousand miles is a massive undertaking, especially for only one individual. We have all heard that two heads are better than one, and when moving six states away, it would help to have the assistance of a second brain. I know I require preparation to move my belongings to Florida, meaning I will need to ask for help to pack, although this will be challenging. I thought I made many friends at church, where I attended for nearly ten years before the pandemic. However, they are apparently not the “helping friends pack” type of friends, but more fair-weather “just say hi” friends. This situation meant I needed to hire a company to pack, ship, and deliver everything I owned to Florida.

I went online and found the first company to give me an estimate for moving my belongings from Ohio to Florida. When the woman walked around my house and saw my stuff, she scribbled things down on her notepad and gave me an estimate of $12,000. Keep in mind most of my furniture is nearly 30 years old and not worth $1200, let alone twelve thousand, so I kept a poker face and said I see. She explained the cost of fuel, labor, and even cardboard had gone up, which caused such a premium price proclamation. When she saw the wheels turning in my head, she quickly stated I should not leave my furniture because there were delays in furniture store deliveries. I know that is malarkey, I thought to myself. Although I later called her back and left a voicemail asking what the cost would be without moving my furniture, she never called me back, which I took as a red flag.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was still waiting for the Post Office to deliver the mail to the Moon. That is the only reason it was taking so long for my mortgage company to pay my taxes, something they should have done in the first place. Every time I called my lender to see if they mailed the check, it was always in process. They move like a snail late for a hot date. Every time I called, they said they were working on it, yet nothing was happening.

My HELOC was waiting for a company that moves slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through Peanut butter. This situation forced me to consider other options as the work needed completion soon, and only money would pay the bills. Unfortunately, the more I contemplated my alternatives, I only came up with one, which was to fracture my financial future by dipping into my 401k. I spoke to my financial advisor and withdrew a sum of money from my retirement account that would help initially. I thought it would get things started until my HELOC came through. However, I did not realize the games of life would continue.

A few days later, I received word that they had paid my taxes and were ready for the signing of my paperwork. Fortunately, this loan was just in time for the second half of the money needed to complete the work. Sadly, we could not set up the signing for another week, making the HELOC bank the new choke point for the work. At the signing, one week later, they cemented the title “choke point” entirely as they told me the checks for the HELOC would take up to a month to arrive at my house. Once again, various work concluded, and bills needed payment, which, sadly, none would be from my HELOC. So I had to dip deeply into my 401k for another painful chunk of change as this was extremely ugly for my retirement.

Everything is causing havoc, as the lousy timing and the unexpected extra requirements are getting quite old. Then to top it all off, I found out that Piada Italian Street Food does not exist in Florida, making me wonder if that is enough of a reason not to move to Florida? Although I realized that staying in Ohio is a bad idea because now, deep in the game, my mom would go to prison as she would quite literally kill me. I know moving to Florida will be a good thing when I get there, but the stress is brutally beating my body to the Core.

Just hang on as the completion is near. Or is it?

Relocation frustration…

When you read this blog series about my move, things may sound unorganized and generally discombobulated. I wrote it that way because that is how things seemed to me when I was living it. Everything felt like I was being sprayed full blast with a garden hose, and someone was waving their hand in front of the water. This action meant that I occasionally got a split-second reprieve from the onslaught of water, allowing enough time for a quick breath. Also, if you did not know, the stress of MS can and often does affect the brain in various ways, causing slow thinking, brain fog, and common cognitive concerns. So here is my battle with the brutal brain beast as it battles my brain, body, and fortitude during my relocation transformation.

I packed my belongings with plans to move to Florida, transitioning sometime in October or November. However, I did not expect things to happen so quickly, but to paraphrase Marlon Brando, it was an offer I could not refuse. I found a house close to my family, and I am remodeling it as you read this to make it wheelchair accessible. I will begin my life in Florida soon after the house gets completed in late June or early July. Do I think this move will solve all the problems in my life? Of course not; it will probably even create a few issues. However, there are more activities per square mile without hunting for them, like in my current city, Columbus, Ohio. Therefore, this move will make it much easier to be involved in plenty of activities, and there will constantly be people around.

Let me fervently point out once again how stress and multiple sclerosis are mortal enemies causing havoc in the MSer’s body. Everything seemed to happen to me all at once, causing my head to spin like a top on a record player. First, I was trying to close on the mortgage in Florida, getting all the paperwork assembled while making plenty of phone calls. Next, I tried to gain a home equity line of credit on my Grove City house to help me afford the modifications to my new house. Finally, I attempted to schedule the men to start the work as soon as I signed the HELOC paperwork.

Keep in mind that I am doing all of this from a thousand miles away, although my mom is helping me orchestrate the Florida work. I feel like I am juggling Vaseline-coated eels to make the house move-in ready as early as possible. I realize I am incredibly fortunate as things in the universe have aligned perfectly, allowing me things others can ill afford. However, someone reminded me I should not apologize for my good fortune because I have been on the giving end many times.

This undertaking will be a timing thing, as I need the HELOC to be ready when they work on the house. Yet, everything is now frozen in motion because my mortgage company in Grove City dropped the ball. When I was waiting for the paperwork to go through on the HELOC, the banker emailed me with bad news. She told me they could not complete the loan until I paid my property taxes and brought them up to date. 

I quickly called my mortgage company to clear up my confusion when I received this questionable claim. They apologetically explained my refinance happened the exact day my taxes were due. This stressful situation made everyone think someone else paid my taxes when no one actually did. These are not merely bumps in the road but rumble strips from the freeway, causing chaotic concerns and making everything more stressful.

One step forward and two steps back is the typical quote we all hear and know. However, this statement seems to have been confirmed in the beginning half of my turbulent transition as things continued to move back and forth between positive and negative. I am a thinker and a planner and repeatedly check my list like Santa Claus, making sure I dot my I’s and cross my T’s. Yet, I fear faltering by forgetting and fumbling as things have been fast-moving, forcing foul falsehoods.

More to come to my scary saga.

From Olympian to Whimpian…

This one is about the fellas, as 75% of those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis are women. Although both men and women are afflicted, the mental effects for men can be significantly different for various reasons. Most men are taught things like “Don’t you cry, boy!” or “act like a man” or other excessively masculine directives as they grow up. These comments sit with us deep in our psyche as we try to fit the societal role appointed to us as we enter this life.

So my feeling is that men with MS are affected differently when our bodies do not cooperate, as this requires us to ask for help. Some of us feel like it shows weakness in the eyes of others when we cannot do the basic things we once did. It is devastatingly discouraging that I have had to call that triple-digit rescue number many times as a big bad US Marine. When I call, I am pleading once again for help off the floor like a newborn baby who can only crawl, so my pride takes a hit. So, people need to understand that multiple sclerosis is demoralizing, dehumanizing, and demasculinizing. The crushing mental aspect of MS can make a man feel less than the man he once was, negatively affecting his attitude, personality, and demeanor.

I was always an extremely active young boy from an early age, playing outside until the streetlights came on. We did not have video games, computers, or cable tv to keep me in the house all day. Instead, I had a bicycle, an imagination, and a neighborhood to run and play in to keep me active. In addition, my dad had a garden full of vegetables like cherry tomatoes which my friends and I could eat when hungry. Filling our tummies with tiny tasty tomatoes from the garden made for a refreshing snack, letting us get back to playing quickly.

At ten and a half years old, I joined an extremely active Boy Scout troop. We camped one weekend every month, one week in the summer, and had two-hour Scout meetings every Monday. I began a five-year career as a Boy Scout camp counselor four years later, working six weeks every summer. A year after my summer camp job started, I went on a hiking trip with twelve boys and four adult leaders. We backpacked, hiking 100 miles in 12 days with full packs in the southern part of the Rocky Mountains. All the while, I was always helping people when needed and always doing things for myself, like cooking, bike repairs, and anything else required.

I quickly became good friends with Mike from my Boy Scout troop. We went everywhere on bicycles, tracking more miles on a weekend than many people did all week. I even got a job at a local McDonald’s, just over four miles away from my house, and I rode my bike to work, rain or shine. I was on the wrestling team for a while, but my Boy Scout life took precedence because I was too deep to stop and soon became an eagle scout. During my senior year of high school, I pre- enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and regularly exercised with the other enlistees. Three months after my high school graduation, I shipped off to Parris Island, South Carolina, for the USMC Bootcamp. 

During my time in the Marine Corps, I learned what hard work was while I trained in many aspects of my Marine job. After the Marine Corps, it was more of the same running for cardio and weight lifting for muscles. Helping people move, maintenance, and lawn care for my house were the two main things that never seemed to stop. At 26 years old, my friend Mike began training me to run my first marathon, as he was sure I could run one as he had run eight marathons in total. Like a shark who needs to swim to stay alive, I was always active throughout my life. 

However, that all changed at 27 when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and my life was never the same. This illness eviscerated my manhood like a hungry lion taking down a gazelle on the Serengeti. I fight every day to hold on to any shred of dignity and masculinity not taken from me, yet sadly, losing this battle is not uncommon. This ailment is not for the faint of heart as it can easily steal every ounce of your physical, mental and emotional well-being. MS takes these things without regard for anything I care about, like my health or comfort, and it disintegrates my abilities.

I do not want to speak for other men, but this lack of ability to help others and do many things for myself tears me up inside. I live alone as independently as possible, and I have had people tell me it is incredible that I live on my own and do as much as I do for myself. I know men with MS who do the same thing, and I applaud us all. However, I die a little inside every time I give up another inch of ground against this brutal beast that battles me daily. I believe men do as much as they can because of the teachings from childhood, but it is a tough life to deal with MS. Life dealt us a hand that is an immoral illness that often makes us feel inadequately inferior. It is not right, but there is nothing we can do but continue playing the hand dealt to us.

On an emotional roller coaster for a Horror Story illness.