Nearer but not therer…

Upon landing at the Orlando Airport, my nerves jumped like banjo strings, making me feel quite jittery. So far, this trip has gone freakishly well, which terrifies me as I fear the monster called chance. It feels like this move is a rubber band, and life pulls it farther apart as I simply wait for it to snap in my face. Sometimes I think it is a game of double dutch, and the Chance Beast is waiting for just the right moment to jump in and cause havoc in my life. I am more fearful of this than most can understand or even fathom. 

It felt like only minutes for the plane to land, connect to the walkway, and for people to debark. When you are a person in a wheelchair, you are the first one to board the plane but the last to disembark. The pilot, Captain Jack, and his co-worker Mike, carefully picked me up and placed me back in my wheelchair. Trying to hide my anxiety about the negative possibilities of today, I loudly spoke up and proclaimed: touchdown, seven points, no need for a field goal. My statement led to much laughter and high fives all around. 

Mike placed my carry-on bag on my lap and swiftly pushed me out to the carpeted area past the gate employee. We moved too fast for me to see the gate person’s name tag, but she had a bright smile on her face bringing sunshine to everyone. We moved quickly until the carpet ended, where I could see everyone waiting to get on the plane for its next destination. The gate attendant told me she would get some help and then called for assistance, taking me to the baggage claim and the transport. I waited for several minutes but had to use the restroom badly, which was just across the aisle.

As I rolled into the restroom, I noticed the facilities were packed with passengers since our plane had just landed. I cautiously wheeled through the room to the accessible stall with my hard carry-on luggage still on my lap. Unfortunately, the stall was in use, so I spoke loudly, explaining that a guy in a wheelchair was waiting, but I received no response. Since I was in a hurry, I left the bathroom and continued to sit and wait for the person who would assist me. After a few minutes, the crowd in the restroom emptied and left the accessible stall open, which I could use promptly. 

I finished quickly and went back to waiting on the carpet of the gate our plane landed while they called for help for the fourth time. My time was up for transportation, so I panicked and called the transport company, hoping they did not leave me marooned. I spoke with the transport operator and apologetically explained my stranded situation of waiting at my gate. She told me I contacted them just in time as the bus was about to depart without me, and getting them to come back was difficult. She informed me they would only wait a little longer since I called.

After a 45-minute wait and my bus nearly leaving without me, I finally saw an employee for Southwest Airlines. When the employee, Sally, passed me with a wheelchair, she told me she would take me where I needed. Southwest Sally pushed my chair to the trolley where the Transport company called to say my time was up. I begged a little, explaining that I was on my way as they picked me up moments ago and we would be there soon. We rode the Orlando Airport trolley from one part of the airport to the other, with very few people. 

Southwest Sally continued to push me with one hand through the airport, weaving in and around a few people. Finally, we arrived at baggage claim, and thankfully the luggage from my flight was still on the carousel, though very few bags remained. Sally quickly pushed me through baggage claim, where she performed a balancing/juggling act like no other. She rolled my large checked suitcase with her left hand while pushing me with her right hand, and I dragged my carry-on bag with my right hand.

Sally and I made our way through the airport until we arrived, where the Paratransit van was waiting. It was a large vehicle but appeared only to carry one wheelchair at a time while also taking the rest of the family if there was one. The driver, Lisa, put me in the back of the van, locking me in place cautiously like I was an explosive box on the back of a pickup truck. She next grabbed my luggage and tossed it in the van like a bag of marshmallows that would not break. Finally, Lisa had a clipboard to keep track of her mileage pickup locations and destinations, and once Lisa filled it out, she started the vehicle, and away we went. She quickly let me know this trip would take one hour and fifteen minutes to reach my final destination.

As we rode off into the sunset, her words rang ominously. 

Neither here nor there…

After approximately thirty minutes in a Paratransit minivan, we pulled up to the Southwest gate. My driver, Al, unloaded me and my luggage and rolled my bags to the skycap as I slowly followed while carefully observing my surroundings. The gate attendant let me know he would have someone take me through security all the way to the gate, where I would board the plane. A few minutes later, the gate attendant, Mike, introduced me to Susan, a coworker who would gladly take me wherever I needed. I instantly asked if she could take me swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s bank vault; laughing loudly, she said sorry, but no. As we weaved through the airport, the first place Susan stopped was the part of security checking for identification.

When I handed the gentleman with Bob on his name tag, my TSA-approved Veterans Administration ID, he accepted it cheerfully. However, when he scanned it through his machine, the red blinking light and loud buzzer quickly shouted access denied. Bob then asked for another form of identification, so I held up an expired state ID, but before I could explain, he swiped it from me and ran it through the machine. This time the device simply screamed, denied, so he tried both forms of identification before calling his supervisor. Finally, Bob handed his boss my VA ID card, and she stared at it for a few seconds and, quick as a hiccup, loudly said: Looks good. I instantly said thank you, I will take that as a compliment, as I smiled coquettishly. She laughed and said thank you for bringing some badly needed levity to my day.

Southwest Susan then took me to the security pat-down area, where she helped me remove my shoes and empty my pockets. I could not see the TSA agent’s name tag, but I think it said Mike or Mark, who would do the pat down. Before he did the screening, I began my explanation of every non-typical item connected to me and my chair. The list did not need to be so extensive, but I made sure that no one made mistakes and that they did not call security. In addition, I always make sure that when I interact with someone in public, I make a joke or two, signaling not to assume about people in wheelchairs. I do that because otherwise I get treated poorly, ignored, and shunned, while some assume mental challenges, all because I am in a wheelchair.

Susan and I continued to move through the airport as she pointed out places I needed to know. She identified the convenience store, explaining that I could get something from the magazine racks, snack packs, or Tic Tacs. Susan also shared that many things were available from the gift shop, whether Ohio State t-shirts, sweatshirts, ball caps, or wrist straps. Oddly, she pointed out every, and I mean every, bathroom along the way, reminding me that there was one closer to my gate. The busyness of the airport went in waves and depended on planes landing or taking off because people moved fast through the airport.

My wheels went from the hard surface airport floor, which turned into carpeting, making it harder and draining to roll on. Thankfully Susan told me this was my gate, and she went to talk with the gate attendant, Pam, sharing with her my details. She must not have said much to Pam because the gate attendant came over and spoke to me like I was five years old. I quickly spoke up and made a joke which made Pam smile but no laugh, telling me there was a challenge to make her laugh. Although I tried in the time I had, all I could get was a smile, a smirk, but not even a snicker at my silliness, which usually draws laughter. Since I have a short time here, I have to accept this as a loss as I could not make her laugh.

At five minutes till 10 a.m., I wanted to be sure that I went to the restroom before this flight that would last over two hours. I verified with Pam that per the ticket our load time was 11 a.m., meaning I had one hour to run to the facilities and grab snacks. She told me that boarding would start in 20 minutes, and I had time to take care of my two tasks. I had a jolt of panic run through my mind because it was implausible that in 20 minutes, I could take care of business. There is typically a wait for the accessible stall, as most love them, meaning my pre-flight business would become post-flight business. I sat quietly at the gate until they came to take me to my seat on the plane.

They rolled me carefully down the Jet Bridge as it was bumpy and steep as we waited for someone else to arrive. Finally, a guy from Southwest came and looked like a maintenance man in his overalls and was ready to help. Maintenance man Jim slowly backed me onto the plane, parking me next to the front seat, asking if I was okay. Jim grabbed under my knees, and a gentleman behind me grabbed under my armpits, and I quickly said, “do not worry, I am not glass.” Once they carefully placed me on the seat, I spoke loudly and said, “look at that, nothing but net. Thank you, guys.” 

They say that when things are going well, life will say to give it a second, which will change. Once they placed me in my seat, I moved very little, fearing waking the monster called chance. The first half of the flight day went off without a hitch, causing more fear and trepidation. I know that being scared of this possible mythical beast called chance seems silly to some. However, in my situation, I have faced this ugly creature many times, ruining my day. The vile possibilities raise the hair on the back of my neck.

My new home awaits while I inch closer and closer.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Someone told me I am too honest and share things I should not because they are personal and embarrassing. However, not only do I believe in total honesty in life, but those reading my blogs with multiple sclerosis know that what I am saying is true. In addition, the anonymity of the internet means no one knows who I am except for my name because very few people I know read my blog. That said, the big bad Marine in me is terrified of flight day, like a schoolgirl watching a horror movie.

Let me be clear, I am not afraid to fly, as I have ridden in a big steel bird 30,000 feet in the sky many times. Side note; the first time in my life I ever rode in a plane was a pretty primitive propeller plane on my way to boot camp for the US Marine Corps. It was an exceptionally scary ride with a terrifying destination. However, I am afraid the MS symptoms I have dealt with in the past year could unexpectedly rear their ugly heads at any time of the day or flight. So I pondered my prolific problem, wondering how to help my fear and stress before they become an ulcer and ruin an otherwise positive move, so far anyway.

The stress of thinking about this trip all night made my time asleep in groups of minutes, not hours. My alarm went off at Zero Dark Thirty, or 3 a.m. to be precise, as I needed as much time as possible to get ready. This transition is a one thousand-mile move that started only a few months ago, and I am making the trip today. I knew my mom and stepdad would wake up early also for a family reunion and would leave shortly after me. That makes four bodies moving around, trying to duck and dodge each other in a relatively small house.

I had an aide named Carrie scheduled on the date of departure to come in to assist me in making this a smoother and proper preparation time. Carrie came in at 3:45 a.m., whispering a cheerful good morning while requesting directions on how she could help. I had a carry-on suitcase and a large suitcase for being checked into the belly of the plane. Most of her work upon arrival was to pack the suitcases with the things I could not until the last minute. The first hour was Carrie putting things where I requested them to go and her trying to make sure everything fit correctly.

My first task was to get breakfast out of the way, as I knew my parents would prepare in the kitchen for their gathering. It is essential to start the day with a substantial breakfast, so I was hoping for a two-egg omelet, bacon, and orange juice for this momentous day. However, in reality, I had a bowl of frosted Shredded Wheat with powdered milk and my vitamins and prescriptions. So far, things were moving smoothly, which scared me more because of the possibility of what would go wrong. My MS life had not been rainbows and butterflies until this point, and I was still fearful of any MS flare which would ruin this trip.

I can do the stuff Carrie is helping me with, but there is a need for speed, and I do not want to think about failure today. Her next task was to help me get dressed in the clothes I would wear to the airport, making sure everything was acceptable to the TSA. I have a key ring on my jean shorts zipper so I can hold it easily, and the last time I went through the TSA checkpoint, the guy grabbed it. He must have thought I was trying to smuggle something because he pulled on it like he had found a lost treasure. This time I would make sure I announced every little item and explain what they are before the start of the pat-down.

There was not much left to do after she helped me get dressed except assembling all the other last pieces. Search and rescue for a few lost last-minute items were essential but short-lived, as the house was pretty barren and packed for Florida. We both sat quietly in my bedroom, she on my bed and me on my chair as I tried to catch my breath, meditate, and relax. This morning seemed to run smoothly, which terrified me as it felt like the “calm before the storm,” which meant the storm would be at the airport. Fifteen minutes before the transport was supposed to arrive, Carrie left, leaving a conversation between my parents and me. 

As Carrie stepped out the door, she turned back and let us know the transport vehicle was here early. My heart began pounding at galloping thoroughbred speed, and at that point, my parents grabbed my luggage to walk me to my transportation. I opened the garage door, looked out at the van, and whispered, “Okay, Scott, there is no turning back now.” Right then, I felt like a little kid dragged to school for the first time, and the torturous trepidation sank in. Goodbye, Columbus, Ohio. I have lived within your borders for 46 years and will always have fond memories of my childhood.

Every journey starts with one step.

Gooood morning Vietnam.

Gooood morning Vietnam.  

The battle of my multiple sclerosis rages on at times viciously and ferociously. However as of late the war has taken an unexpected detour that has veered me away from my home leaving me with no way to write these blogs. I write this message using a notepad on my cell phone.

I have one blog I will post the minute I get back home and several others in the creation and contemplation stage. All of these are a continuation of the series about my move and all that transpired including my current circuitous journey 

I hope you are all willing to hold on for the next blogs as I continue to tell each stage of the process of moving.

Thank you, Scott 

Relocation frustration…

I apologize to everyone waiting on pins and needles for my next blog. Okay, that was a gross exaggeration of the facts, but I genuinely apologize to those waiting for my blog. I had no computer from July 1st through July 14th as my computer did not get hooked up until then. This move has been, at times, silky smooth, while other times, it has been more chaotic than a kindergarten class hopped up on sugar. Nevertheless, I have some great blogs in mind and hope I can put them down on paper correctly and make sense of all this moving mayhem. 

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 was attempting 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.

Overworked, overwhelmed, and over scrambled…

MS Beast

Multiple sclerosis is a time-losing, energy-consuming, stress-inducing beast we MSers live with daily. The list of symptoms is quite extensive and changes like a chameleon depending on its surroundings. Cognitive issues often get overlooked if someone does not deal with them on a typical day. However, heat and stress can significantly exacerbate mental turbulence, making things go from bad to worse in the span of a blink. Stress alone can cause mental cloudiness, making thinking as complex as seeing through muddy water. Here is the story of how my stressful one-thousand-mile move to Florida and everything involved caused a money mistake that changed my future.

Because of my lackadaisical concern for security fifteen years ago, I made a mistake that caused many negative consequences. This embarrassing error created an explosion of problems, forcing me to lose the trust of friends and even some family. Furthermore, this careless security action aided in eviscerating my Rolodex of remaining friends. I could ill afford such a devastating loss to my existence so long ago, which allowed the darkness to creep in and envelop my life quietly. After so long, I thought I had learned my lesson never to make a mistake like that again, yet like a savage weasel, the stress and anxiety caused devastating chaos.

After I went through the Amazon return process and had not received my refund one week later, I was concerned. I get refunded the minute the delivery driver scans the label on the return package while he is still on the truck. So I asked my cell phone for the number of Amazon customer service, and Google spit out a number like a fastball from a pitcher. I quickly called to question and clarify the status of the great rebate debate, exactly where things went awry.

The gentleman on the phone told me you have fraudulent activity on your card. He then had me download a program to help them remove the unauthorized individuals, creating the deceptive costs. The minute I opened the newly downloaded software, he showed me the expensive purchases made by three others on my credit card. Like a lawyer in a courtroom, I vociferously proclaimed with my fists clenched tightly in fear and anger that I did not incur those fraudulent fees.

If you are currently talking to this blog like yelling “He’s right behind you!” in a movie theater, sharing warning signs, I now see them too. When I look back at this loss event, I see red flags, and I feel like a colossal idiot for not recognizing them at the time. However, properly peering into the past, I realize this was not the Amazon customer service number I thought it was, although that was probably their plan. However, stress and anxiety can aggravate the cognitive issues known as Cog-fog, which MS patients deal with often. You cannot understand how much this brain fog slows thinking when magnified by various complications.

He reassured me by explaining that this would not be a complicated repair as we caught it in time. All I had to do was go to my bank and send a Zelle transaction of $500, so they could track it and get the money back. He quickly informed me it was not an actual purchase transaction. Instead, he implied I was requesting money, meaning no money would leave my account. I repeated his statement to confirm what was happening because I did not want to pay but to stop the transaction, and he agreed.

I sent the Zelle $500 payment to track, and within a few minutes, the money left my account, although it was not supposed to. He put me on hold, and I kept thinking something was wrong as my sluggish brain loosened up like continually using a rusty pair of scissors. Finally, he returned to the phone a few minutes later and explained that one of the fraudulent people got removed from my account. He said he needed me to send another payment to track for $1,000, and luckily, my brain started functioning a little better. Red flags should have been smacking me in the face like the branches when falling out of a tree.

I argued with him about everything, including his new $1,000 request, not backing down and standing my ground. He quickly hung up, realizing his day of deception was done with me as my brain picked up speed like a snowball rolling downhill. I expeditiously began stopping anything he could try by changing the login and password for my credit card. Then, with lightning speed, I contacted my bank, which inevitably began investigating my claim of Zelle fraud. And to answer the question quietly sitting in the back of your mind as you read this, yes, Ally Bank refunded my money. Now, my security concerns will always be my priority, no matter how inconvenient, because it is worth it. I hope this does not lead to continual problems, and that I nipped it in the bud, never to flare up again.

Evil people want your money, so move cautiously, think carefully and act critically.

Saying farewell to my old life… 

As I get closer to the move, things are more hectic, chaotic, and generally crazy, which causes stress and mistakes. I am turning this manic move into a blog series discussing every aspect of my transition from Ohioan to Floridian. I want people to understand the impacts of this movement from the perspective of one MSer and the complications created. It is essential to comprehend the effects on my multiple sclerosis-riddled body during this seemingly simple stress-filled life shift. I have been trying my hardest to complete the next blog In time to be posted on schedule, but I have been unsuccessful. Alas, I have to post a rerun and hope everyone can hold on because I have some excellent blogs about this move.

Saying farewell to my old life… 

One week contains 168 hours, and we sleep approximately 56 hours. If I am lucky, I have an aide here for 6 hours, making 6,360 minutes per week that I sit in these four walls in solitary confinement. I have no one to talk to in this cold isolation of abandonment, although some people say they love it when their family goes on vacation and leaves them at home by themselves. Father time does not stand still for anything, and for that matter, as the clock gets older, it seems to move faster. The only way to get time to slow down is by staring at a clock face, but then you do not get to live your life as I have stared at the clock for too long.

This joyous feeling during the family vacations is because they enjoy the quiet of getting away from the hustle and bustle of family life, even if only briefly. However, although being at home solo for a week is delightful, being alone for over a decade is dreadfully debilitating. If you conjure up the worst-case scenario of being alone in your mind, you still cannot conceive or perceive what it truly feels like to be alone. Therefore, I can not and should never return to the life-threatening darkness of my early MS days.

So as I sit and contemplate this complicated conundrum, I question if there is more to life? I cannot believe this vast nothingness is all there is for me for the rest of my days. So I searched Columbus for activities for me to help ameliorate and eliminate the loneliness and desolation in my heart. People tell me there are many endeavors to be involved in, in town, and I agree there are many things to do in Columbus. 

However, these activities may be plentiful for people without disabilities, but they are scattered far and wide, making them hard to find. In addition, because these activities spread so far, it makes being involved in one difficult, let alone more than one activity, with both weather and lack of transportation a limiting factor. Others have told me I should get a pet because a pet would give unconditional love. However, I do not want a pet; I want a LIFE.

I tried to think of all of my options every day to determine what I could do because, sadly, neither friends nor family visited me regularly. Daily I struggled to conjure up something I could do to eliminate my boredom drenched in loneliness, but there was nothing. There had to be something to keep me from visiting the dark place smeared in my tears from so long ago. So I sat here one day pondering my prolific problem, and in the back of my mind, I heard my mom’s voice. Since retiring, my mom told me she has been busier now than when working, and it kept playing in my memory. I would constantly hear her reminding words while I muddled through my day.

I honestly had nothing to spend my money on while locked in this house during the pandemic, so I got an idea. Because of this lack of required spending, I put every spare dollar I had to pay extra on my house. I am not sure what the reasoning was for this idea, but it was simple to put in motion. When my house payment was due, I made sure I paid my bills, and grocery money was untouched. 90% of the money I had left I added directly to my house payment, leaving me with growing equity for future possibilities. I felt like a squirrel hiding money, except it was on my mortgage and not in my house.

I assembled my ideas and postulated possibilities of a prolonged relocation peregrination. Then, one day I thought about the concept of moving to a place more active, giving me a more enjoyable life. Would it be possible to take the equity in this house and purchase a home in a new state, making it affordable as housing prices continue to rise? So I researched places in Florida where the sun shines more, and there are more activities and more people, simply more. 

The more I thought about it, the more of a reality it became, so I decided I would move in October or November. This delayed departure would allow me to get stronger in the pool and say goodbye to friends. It would also allow me to arrive after the heat of the summer and will enable me to acclimate to the temperatures more slowly.

I am optimistically terrified of my next adventure!

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.