Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Medical Marijuana

I have decided to give medical marijuana a go. Why the hell not? Even if it doesn’t help, I’m confident that experimenting with it won’t hurt, and either way I will be a more worldly person for having tried.

Maine is one of twenty-three states (and the District of Columbia) which allow the use of medical marijuana. Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and the District of Columbia have gone a step further and approved the recreational use of marijuana by adults. I live in South Portland, Maine, and in November of this year we approved recreational use of marijuana within our city limits. Our neighbor, Portland, made the same move last year. Like gay marriage before it, this issue is approaching critical mass nationwide. The times, they are a changin’.

In our state, only a physician or a nurse practitioner can certify patients for the program. In general, traditional physicians shy away from this activity. However, there are medical practices set up specifically for certifying patients. I did a Google search and found Integr8 Health in nearby Falmouth. When I called to set up an appointment I learned that the fee would be $300, in advance, no matter the outcome of my evaluation.

These are the qualifying conditions in Maine:
  • Chronic Pain (Which has not responded to conventional therapy for more than 6 months)
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C (active form)
  • HIV
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Severe Muscle Spasms (Including MS and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms)
  • Severe Nausea
  • Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders (including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s Disease, and others)
Because of my MS muscle spasms, I was confident I would be approved.

When I arrived at Integr8 Health’s office I was greeted by a pleasant and chatty receptionist, who immediately put me at ease. She indicated that I would be seeing a nurse practitioner for my evaluation. After a short wait, the nurse came out and introduced herself, and led me to her office. I sat in my wheelchair, and she sat on her bouncy ball chair. Any worries I had about qualifying for the program were allayed when she shook her head and said, “Why have you waited so long to come see us?”

We had a nice discussion about the various ways that medical marijuana might benefit me. We spoke for almost half an hour. She then indicated that I would need final approval from their physician, because at the time nurse practitioners were not allowed to qualify patients – that has changed in just the past few months. I met with the physician briefly, and based on the report from his nurse practitioner he signed off on my certificate.

This certification allows me to cultivate up to six flowering plants, have a licensed grower cultivate plants for me, purchase up to five ounces per month from the dispensary, or any combination thereof. That’s a lot of weed, man.

The nearest dispensary to me, Wellness Connection of Maine, is only a couple of miles away, in downtown Portland. When I approached their entrance, inconspicuously located at the rear of a building, someone from inside noticed me and sprang into action, opening the two sets of double doors. I indicated that I would be a new customer, so I was introduced to an intake specialist. She was a pleasant young lady who, either through experience or training or both, knew a lot about medical marijuana. After I showed my certificate and proof of identification, I was buzzed through another set of security doors into the inner sanctum.

It was a comfortable setting. There were tables, chairs, and sofas. I was offered coffee, tea, or water. In Maine, consumption of medical marijuana is not allowed at dispensaries. The centerpiece of this room was a glass display counter, not unlike what you might find at a bakery. My guide sat down with me and explained the various strains of marijuana that they had in stock, and what the characteristics of each strain were. She explained the various delivery systems including smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting.

We decided that vaporizing made the most sense for me. Vaporized marijuana is healthier for your lungs than smoked marijuana. Also, vaporizers produce almost no odor. Of course they offered a vaporizer for sale at a discount price. “Sure,” I thought. “I’ll go home and price it on the internet and find out just how good their discount is.” At the end of my orientation I thanked my host and went home to do my research. I was surprised and pleased to find that the vaporizer they offered was highly rated, and I couldn’t beat their price, even on eBay. I returned to the dispensary and purchased their vaporizer. Then I approached the sales counter and decided to quiz the attendant about which strains I should purchase, as a double check on the young lady who had helped me earlier. His recommendations were identical. I went ahead and purchased a sample pack of three different strains of medical marijuana.

Once I have given this medicine a thorough trial, I’ll report back here on its effectiveness or lack thereof. After the way I had to sneak around when I dabbled in marijuana during college, my medical marijuana experience has thus far been nothing short of surreal.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book review: Chef Interrupted by Trevis Gleason

I had previously known Trevis Gleason only as the popular blogger at Life With Multiple Sclerosis. Within the constraints of this platform, he dispenses his wisdom, humor, and charm in 500 word snippets. But in Chef Interrupted Trevis throws off the shackles of forced brevity and reveals his considerable storytelling acumen.

When Trevis sent me, a fellow MS blogger, an advance copy, I devoured the book in no time at all. It’s a delightful read for anyone who longs to find meaning by going back to their roots, in this case his ancestral homeland of Ireland.

In this memoir, Trevis expertly blends an array of themes into a seamless mosaic. His stories are about realizing the dream to become immersed in rural Ireland, if only for three months (in this book). It’s about the connections he made with the people and with the land, and experiences he shared with folks from home who dropped in and out of his life, and his rented cottage, during that time. It’s about a fondness for good food and drink, and a loyal, furry companion. And yes, it’s about living a full life despite a debilitating disease.

You’ll think a little differently about multiple sclerosis and about the Emerald Isle after seeing them through Trevis’s eyes.

Chef Interrupted: Discovering Life’s Second Course in Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis will be released on Amazon on March 1, 2015, but is available for preorder today. Click here. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Does Personality Change Because of Disability?


I’m not the same person I used to be. At least I don’t think I am.

For example, before I was diagnosed with MS and for a short time afterward, I didn’t have a lot of empathy for disadvantaged people. I assumed that most of these folks deserved their lot in life, and only a small percentage suffered from misfortunes that were not of their own making. I assumed the bigger problem in society was not that people were hurting too much, but that too many people were taking advantage of the system. I (mostly) joked that an effective welfare program should consist of nothing more than blankets and soup.

Today, having spent so much time with people who are suffering, and having suffered myself, my attitude is reversed. I now assume that the majority of disadvantaged people are that way through no fault of their own. I have come to realize that we need to do more to help people, not less. The fact that some are cheating the system is an unfortunate side effect of well-intended programs, not a reason to cancel these programs.

I’ve also changed in other ways. I used to keep my emotions bottled up, and I considered this a strength of character. I would almost never discuss how I felt about things that were going on in my life. That was nobody’s business.

I’m still a levelheaded person, and I believe this serves me well, given all that I am going through. But I must (sadly) admit that I do have feelings, and I no longer keep them unexamined and private. When I decided to become a disability advocate, and write a blog about living a contented life as a disabled person, I became introspective. I had to. Otherwise, my writing would not have been interesting or relevant.

I could go on. My life has changed in so many ways. Given this, am I the same person that I used to be, or have I become someone completely different? We could have a subjective discussion about this, but there is an objective personality test which most of you are familiar with. It’s called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I took this test several times before my MS diagnosis, and I consistently came out with the personality type, INTJ, which is rare. Only 2% of people fall into this category. INTJ stands for Introvert as opposed to Extrovert, iNtuition as opposed to Sensing, Thinking as opposed to Feeling (of course), and Judging as opposed to Perception.


If you would like to learn more about this test or take it yourself, click here.

I decided to retake the Myers-Briggs this weekend for the first time since I left the workforce in 2009. I wondered how much I had changed over this period of time. Maybe I had become an ESFP for all I knew. I sat down and took the test, and I was astonished by the results.

I’m still an INTJ. How could that be?

According to Myers-Briggs, my personality type is the same as it always was. I haven’t become somebody new. Yet my behaviors have changed significantly since I became a disabled person. I hardly recognize myself.

I’m no psychologist, but I can make a guess at what is going on here. As the Myers-Briggs test indicates, the essence of who I am has not changed. My view of the world has been turned upside down, but my methods of processing information are the same. It’s just that I’m exposed to different information. I’m not looking at returns on investment for multimillion dollar projects. I’m looking at my friend down the street who can’t get a proper fitting for her new wheelchair. I’m not studying flight schedules to see how many clients I can visit in a week. I’m learning bus schedules to see how I can get to my therapy appointment on time.

I’m not a different person. I’m merely looking at life through a different window.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Four Short Takes

Introducing…iConquerMS™. This is a new and different kind of research initiative for MS, launched by the Accelerated Cure Project in Boston, MA. It's dedicated to patient-driven research, based on the novel use of huge amounts of data from all of us living with MS. The initiative’s Internet portal, www.iConquerMS.org, is now live.

I already visited the website and filled out all their surveys. I encourage everyone with MS to do the same. This is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to our cause with very little effort, no cost, and most of all, nobody sticking you with a needle.

Upcoming travel: Kim and I haven’t been on an airplane trip since February of 2013, when we vacationed in Jamaica with my brother Tom and his wife Diane. If you recall, that’s the trip where US Air lost both of my wheelchairs for several days. As compensation for that cluster fuck, Kim and I were given enough vouchers to once again take our chances with USAir. We are flying to Las Vegas for the New Year’s holiday. Tom and Diane are coming again, along with my brother Andy and his wife Karen. It won’t only be New Year’s Eve that we celebrate in Las Vegas, however. Kim will be turning 50 while we are out there. Yes, 50.

My abilities have changed since the last time we traveled, so I found a medical equipment rental company in Las Vegas. Desert Medical Equipment will deliver a hospital bed and a Hoyer lift to my hotel room, and charge me $100 per night for the three nights we are there. That’s a significant expense, but things should go so much more smoothly for us. Look for one or more posts about this trip in January.

Newspaper article on accessible pathway: Here’s a follow-up to the blog post I made on November 12, regarding a new accessible pathway around the cobblestone street in my neighborhood. One of the local newspapers heard about the path and called me for an interview. I assumed this story would be buried somewhere in the middle of the paper, but it ended up making the front page. Click here to read.

TED talk on the drug war: I know that I’ve been on a sociology kick lately, but I’ll ask you to indulge me one more time. Here’s the thing. I don’t want more people doing drugs. I don’t want more drug addicts. Yet, I’m starting to warm up to the idea of legalizing drugs – maybe all drugs, but at least starting with marijuana. The war on drugs has been a colossal failure. We’ve ruined so many lives, wasted so much money, and created powerful and terrible criminal organizations. I’m willing to consider drastic alternatives. Please watch this TED video and see if it doesn’t make sense to you.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Social Psychology Implications of iBot Stair Climbing

Yeah, you read that right. This subject is better suited for a PhD dissertation, but instead I’ll tackle it in a single blog post.

On Saturday night Kim and I went out to dinner with our friends Deb and Steve at the Snow Squall, a local bar and restaurant that we absolutely love. I made reservations for their dining room, as opposed to the pub section where I usually sit. This would require me to descend about four steps in my iBot wheelchair.

In years past I was able to climb stairs myself in the iBot, but I no longer have enough strength and dexterity in my arms. I require Kim’s assistance. We arrived at the Snow squall at six o’clock, and the crowd was thin. Kim guided me down the stairs without incident, and we settled in for a leisurely meal.

Throughout the dinner, more patrons arrived, and soon it was a full house. We finished an outstanding meal (Chef Heather cooks no other type), settled the checks, and prepared to ascend the stairs. Allow me to describe the scene, as I imagine it from the perspective of a random patron who dared to watch:
A dashing gentleman in a power wheelchair backs up against the bottom step. A woman, presumably his much younger wife (is he rich?), strikes an athletic pose behind him, one foot on the first step and the other foot on the second. The gentleman manipulates buttons and knobs on his wheelchair controller such that the seat rises a bit and then tilts to the rear. His wife grabs onto the top of his backrest and pulls. Some motor within the wheelchair engages and boosts the front wheels up and over the rear wheels, and the chair is one step higher. This process continues until the chair, its occupant, and its navigator are at the top of the steps, at which time the gentleman pushes more buttons and knobs, and the chair transforms back to normal. Their demeanor throughout the operation is nonchalant. Apparently, this is part of their routine – how they navigate through a disabled-unfriendly world.

Here’s the social psychology implication. There were perhaps forty people in the lower dining room and another forty in the upper pub area. At least half those people had a clear line of sight to me. Yet, as I scanned the crowd, only a couple of them observed me climb the stairs in my wheelchair. Nearly every one of those people must have been fascinated by my chair’s capabilities. Why didn’t more of them watch? I would have watched.

In our society, it is paramount that we not offend others, especially people who are disadvantaged. And we are on our best manners when we dine at an establishment where the meals cost more than $15. Most of the patrons were probably concerned that watching me climb the stairs would be offensive to me or would constitute an invasion of my privacy. Maybe they thought I hated being seen this way – that I already felt conspicuous enough, and their staring would only make me feel worse. Maybe they didn’t know what they thought, but it just felt wrong to look. Whatever the reason, most of these people either completely ignored me, or they only snuck a peek here and there. What a shame. What a missed opportunity! What a gross over-application of the duty to not offend.

The fact is that I absolutely love to have people watch me climb stairs. I’m an iBot exhibitionist. I get off by demonstrating how technologically advanced my iBot is, how talented my wife is, and how cool I am about the entire process. But these people had no way of knowing this. How could they?

Maybe the responsibility falls squarely on me to let the potential audience know that they are more than welcome to gawk at us, engage us in conversation about it, and applaud enthusiastically at the conclusion of the show. The question becomes, then, how do I convey this message.

One option is for me to clear my throat and in a very loud voice announce, “May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please? I am about to climb these stairs in a wheelchair. This is something you have probably never seen before, and may never see again. I invite you to put down your utensils, grab your drink, and adjust your seats so you have a comfortable view. In no way will I consider your watching to be inappropriate. Frankly, I would be slightly offended if you didn’t watch. This is very cool stuff. There will be a brief question-and-answer period after I get to the top of the stairs.”

In a perfect world, devoid of unnecessary human insecurities and burdensome social constructs, this would be appropriate behavior. But, frankly, I don’t know if I have the cahones. What if everyone ignored me and just continued dining? What if I came off as needy and insecure? What if, what if, what if? No, I think I’ll forgo the opportunity to be an agent for social change, and just keep doing my thing without drawing attention to myself. It’s just too risky.


Note: For those of you who have not seen the iBot in action, click here for a video of us in Jamaica last year, or watch below.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Wheelchair Van Adventure

Sometimes things go smoothly with auto repairs. Other times, things just get weird.

In Maine, automobiles must pass an annual safety inspection. Our two-year-old wheelchair accessible van was months overdue, placing us at risk of being issued a ticket. On Saturday of last week, we finally scheduled an inspection.

The van failed due to excessive wear on its two front tires. The rear tires were acceptable. When we got home, I called a number of stores to compare prices. The last place I spoke with had a fair deal, $140 per tire for a high quality product. Kim stood beside me and whispered, “Ask them if that is the installed price.” I did. It was. I made an appointment for one o’clock the next day.

The pre-Christmas shopping crowd was out in force on this Sunday in mid-November. Parking spaces in this busy part of town were difficult to find. But our van has handicapped license plates, so we parked in the front row, like we always do, and walked into the tire store.

“My name is Mitch Sturgeon, and I have an appointment for my van.”

“Yes, I have your information right here. It looks like you’re all set. We are very busy today, so please give us a couple of hours.” We had plenty to do nearby, so the wait would not be a problem. For at least the fifth time in the previous couple of months, I went to the Verizon store and fondled a new iPhone 6 Plus. This time I succumbed to its charms. My new phone should arrive tomorrow.

When we returned to the tire store later in the afternoon, we were delighted to find that the work on our van was complete. We expected a bill of around $300. “That will be $748,” the mechanic said, cheerfully.

“I’m afraid you have the wrong bill. We just had two tires changed,” I responded, matching his cheerfulness. I wasn’t at all concerned. He had obviously picked up the bill for some other vehicle that had a brand-new engine installed. Common mistake.

“This is the right one. Changed four tires on a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan…”

Smiles faded. Attitudes shifted.

“No, no, no. I explicitly told the gentleman I spoke with on the phone yesterday that I wanted to change the two front tires. Somebody screwed up,” I said.

And Kim added, “Even then, I thought these tires were supposed to be $140, installation included. How do you come up with $748?”

My wife is a very tolerant person. Give her slow service at a restaurant and she will teach you a hard lesson by cutting your tip from 20% to 18% (and then rounding up to the nearest dollar). But don’t even think about charging her full price for a beer she ordered five minutes before the end of happy hour. She studies every check to make sure we are never overcharged.

I instructed the mechanic, “I need you to put those two rear tires back on the van.”

“I can do that, but you should know that those rear tires are bald also.”

“All four tires are bald?”

“Yes, all four tires are bald.”

“Please show me these bald tires.”

“All four tires?”

“Yes, all four bald tires.”

When we eventually found the tires in the tire trash heap, it was clear to me that two of them had a lot of tread left and two didn’t. The mechanic disagreed. He tried to give me a lesson on how tires wear. I wasn’t buying it. We agreed to disagree. I again insisted that he put two tires back on. Kim again insisted that we address the issue of the extra charges over and above $140 to per tire, no matter how many tires we purchased.

And then we got the break we were waiting for.

“My manager has authorized me to work with you to figure out a way we can keep those four new tires on your automobile,” the mechanic said.

First, Kim went after all the extra charges – balancing, installing, valve stems, disposal fees, roadside assistance insurance for flat tires (I’m not kidding), and double time labor rates for Sunday installation (I think I’m kidding). I went after him for their negligence in installing two tires too many. We talked him down to $450 for the four tires. Kim and I decided this was preferable to putting a couple of two-year-old tires back on the van.

All was forgiven. Smiles returned. Friendly banter resumed.

I sometimes wonder if I benefit from the “cripple factor” in negotiations like these. I hope not, because I despise the idea that people may feel pity for me. I don’t think of myself pitiable. But if people do cut me some slack, it may a legitimate manifestation of karma (I don’t believe in the mystical, universal scorekeeper manifestation of karma).

As we walked out of the store toward our van, a most disturbing thought popped into my head. At first I tried to suppress it, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to. Next, I tried to keep it to myself out of embarrassment, but it was too juicy not to share with Kim.

“You know, I called so many tire places yesterday…I’m not sure I ever told these guys I wanted two tires and not four.”

Kim stopped walking, turned toward me, and considered the implications of this potentially game changing admission. She responded with, “Don't feel guilty for one second. They still tried to screw us with all those extra charges and by telling us our rear tires were bald.”

That’s my girl.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wheelchair Accessible Path Installed around Cobblestone Street in My Neighborhood

As I mentioned in my September post entitled Our Love Affair with Cobblestone Streets and Brick Sidewalks, for years there has been a cobblestone street impeding wheelchair access to the Casco Bay Bridge, which connects Portland and South Portland. I took up the cause in May 2013 with this video posted at mycounterpane.com:

video

I spoke with the city manager and he liked my idea in principle, but wanted to make it a walkway through the adjacent Thomas Knight Park instead of over the top of the cobblestones. This wasn’t ideal, but it would still be a huge improvement.

In April of this year, the city manager informed me that funds had been allocated for this project, and it should be completed during the 2014 construction season. I announced this at mycounterpane.com:

video

They cut it close – winter is almost here – but the ADA compliant path is now installed! I am going to enjoy my new access immensely next summer, as are all the other wheelchair users in the area.


video

The effort took 18 months from inception to completion, but it's extremely satisfying to see an idea like this come to fruition.

Note 1: There is still a finish coat of pavement that will be added in the spring, so the city doesn't consider this project 100% complete yet.

Note 2: You earn bonus points if you noticed two things about the last video. First, yes, I am in balance mode in my iBOT wheelchair. Second, yes, my ride down the new trail is displayed at double time. The iBOT doesn't go that fast in balance mode!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My MS Symptom of the Week – Spasticity

“I can feel it building…oh yes…please don’t stop…this is going to be so good…here it comes…hold on baby…OH MY GOD,” I thought to myself. Then I let it fly, “Achoo!!!”
“Gesundheit,” said Kim.
“Thank you,” I replied.
What? I can't believe you thought I was going there.

Everyone is familiar with that feeling leading up to a sneeze. The urge builds and builds, and the last thing you want to happen is for it to fizzle out before you detonate. The sneeze itself is such a relief. It’s like a scaled-down version of that thing that mommies and daddies do under the covers (the government blog sensors made me describe it that way).

Spasticity, my MS symptom of the week, feels like a sneeze as it builds and builds. And, like a sneeze, it feels so much better when I succumb to it.

“Mitch, what is spasticity?”

I’m so glad you asked.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society describes it this way: “Spasticity refers to feelings of stiffness and a wide range of involuntary muscle spasms (sustained muscle contractions or sudden movements). It is one of the more common symptoms of MS.”

I would further describe my particular variety of spasticity this way. Think about how it feels when you wake up in the morning and have an urge to stretch, except that my stretch is very powerful (proving that the disease is in my nerves not my muscles). I get this spastic feeling frequently now, in both my legs and my arms.

I first experienced episodes of spasticity in the winter of 2003, only eighteen months after my diagnosis (and blogged about it here). I was walking around the streets of Nashville, Tennessee with a client. It was a cold night, and that triggered stiffness in my legs that even my companion could notice. It was almost like I was goose step marching. For the next ten years or so I experienced slowly increasing levels of spasticity, but it didn’t cause any difficulties in my life. It was just an interesting phenomena.

In the last six months or so, however, my spasticity has become much more frequent, and so much more intense, especially at night. It’s affecting my ability to sleep, and it’s doing another strange thing too. After so many years of transferring myself into and out of my wheelchair, bed, and toilet, I developed some sort of a strain in my left wrist. Now, I can’t use my left arm to help with transfers, so I’m not attempting any manual transfers at all. I’ve got an appointment scheduled with an orthopedic specialist, and we’ll see what he says. But the problem is that I have a lot of spasticity in my left arm, and I often put that left wrist through powerful, painful contortions. I think this spastic activity is preventing my wrist from healing. I’m even wearing a wrist brace at night, when the most spasticity occurs, but I still experience significant pain in my wrist.

For many years I’ve taken a moderate dose of a drug called baclofen, a muscle relaxant and the most commonly prescribed treatment for spasticity. I recently increased that dosage to a relatively high 80 mg per day. The problem is that these higher doses of baclofen cause overall muscle weakness and general fatigue, rather unpleasant side effects for someone with MS – a disease that already causes muscle weakness and general fatigue.

If I take much more baclofen I may need to go to the next level, which is to have a baclofen pump installed in my abdomen, with a catheter running around my waist into my spinal cord. This is a much more efficient delivery method for baclofen, without the nasty side effects. But I’m not excited about having a pump installed in my abdomen and having a permanent opening in my spinal cord. So I will put that off for as long as I can.

Spasticity – another wonderful symptom courtesy of my favorite disease, multiple sclerosis.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Political Advertising – Make It Stop!

I know this blog is supposed to be about leading a contented life as a disabled person. But there is something else I'd like to write about today, if you will indulge me.

Here in the United States we have a big election next week. It's what we call a midterm election, so we're not voting for President, but we are voting for just about every other possible position in federal, state, and local government.

I'm not here to advocate for any particular candidate or political party, but rather to publicly protest about how absurd the process has become. I understand that it's better than the alternative – not being able to choose your own representative government. But we've been doing this for over 200 years now, and it is getting worse, not better.

Specifically, I'm here to complain about political advertising on TV. As a disabled person who sits at home all day, I tend to watch a lot of television.
In the last couple of months, my television viewing experience, and more importantly my enthusiasm for next week's election, has been raped and pillaged by incessant political advertising. It would be one thing if the commercials were informative, well done, or even creative. But they are not. They are absolutely mind-numbing.

In response to this deluge I conducted a scientific study of the candidates’ advertising. My extensive data analysis indicates that if a negative claim is made against an opponent, there is a 99% chance that said claim is at best distorted and at worst completely fabricated. The data further reveals that if a positive claim is made about a candidate, there is an 80% chance that said claim is at best distorted and at worst completely fabricated.

I have scientifically established, therefore, that negative advertising is less informative than positive advertising, and that positive advertising is far less informative than no advertising at all. Because of this, as I finalize my voting decisions, I will award “bonus points” to the candidates who inundated me with the fewest commercials (but I’ll give more bonus points for lack of negative commercials, as they are the worst kind).

OK, maybe I didn't really conduct a study, but I bet my percentages are pretty damn close to the truth.

I can think of only one good reason why candidates spend so much money on television advertising. It must work. I would be ashamed of myself if I let the content of these commercials influence my vote in any way (other than my bonus point system). We should listen to debates, meet with the candidates, hash things out with our friends and neighbors, but we can’t let these fraudulent commercials sway us! Since many of us apparently are duped by this disinformation, then I must reluctantly conclude that we are a weak-minded society, prone to manipulation. Shame on us.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I'll make my informed voting decisions based on how I feel about the candidates’ ability to represent my family’s interests, with adjustments made for how I was treated as a consumer of their advertising.  The only way we can stop the insanity is to demonstrate to the next round of political candidates that mudslinging and tacky advertisements will not produce the desired outcome.  All television commercials of the current style, even the positive ones, are a waste of our time and an insult to our intelligence.  Make it stop!

Can I get an amen?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons I Want to End MS

When I checked my email this morning I saw a note from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They asked the question, "Why do you want to end MS?" Their goal is to have 20,000 people answer by October 31. Here is the link.

This is the kind of rah rah mentality that usually turns me off. It is blatant cheerleading. But I had no other blog post idea this week, so I thought I would give you my top 10 reasons.

Reason #10:
If we end MS, then we can put people like me back to work so we are financial contributors to society instead of financial burdens, and so that we can once again feel the satisfaction that comes with a job and a career. This time around I don’t want to be an engineer. I’m thinking astronaut or Rom Com movie star.

Reason #9:
If we end MS, then I can change the name of my blog from enjoying the ride to enjoying the mountain climbing. Who am I kidding? That was never me. It would be more like enjoying standing up to pee.  

Reason #8:
If we end MS, then we can make organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (bless their hearts), and silly campaigns like this one (and I mean that in the nicest way) obsolete.

Reason #7:
If we end MS, then we can reallocate the enormous sum of money spent on research and treatment. This money can instead go toward other diseases. But I would like a little of it to go to those of us who were cured of multiple sclerosis so we can vacation in the Caribbean – all of us at the same time and on the same island. What a party that would be!

Reason #6:
If we end MS, then we can answer, once and for all, the question of what was its root cause. I hope it’s not something too embarrassing though, like you catch MS from picking your nose or excessive masturbation.

Reason #5:
If we end MS, then I can reclaim my initials from this damn disease.

2011 08 202









Reason #4:
If we end MS, then those people who are cured will save money on wheelchairs, wheelchair vans, ramps, grab bars, home modifications, and a million other things. However, our costs for footwear will increase dramatically (a pair of shoes typically lasts me 5 to 7 years now).

Reason #3:
If we end MS, then people like me can get our lives back.

Reason #2:
If we end MS, then people like Kim can have the respite that they deserve. They won’t have to be caregivers in addition to all their other roles.

And my #1 reason is:
If we end MS, then our children and our children’s children will not be cut down in their prime. We will stand tall and say, “No person will never suffer this way again.”

Why do you want to end MS?