Saturday, October 16, 2010

Some Things I Miss (and a Few Things I Don’t)

Little Boy Pee
(Photo credit: nepolon)
Some Things I Miss

1. Standing up to pee
You ladies may not appreciate this, but the ability to stand up and pee five to ten times a day (depending on beer consumption rate), without dropping your pants and with at least a fair chance of hitting your target, is perhaps the greatest single advantage of being a man. If you can’t stand up, then you can’t stand up and pee. I miss that (ironically, I no longer miss though).
2. Going under the radar
It may be difficult to believe that somebody who chooses to balance on two wheels at the supermarket gives a damn about blending in. It's not that I always want to blend in, or even that I often want to blend in. It's just that I’d like to be able to go under the radar once in a while. When you're in a wheelchair, be it a traditional wheelchair or especially an iBot, you always stick out like a sore thumb. Celebrities also suffer from this dilemma. But they can work around it with a hat and a pair of sunglasses. I tried it. Doesn’t work.
3. Typing
untitled Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a wonderful program. It allows me to put words to a page and navigate around my computer hands-free. However, I really miss typing, for a few reasons. First, our house has an open layout. Therefore, when I'm dictating to my computer everybody within earshot knows what I'm saying. I like my privacy during the writing process. Also, I don't know how many times I’ve started talking to the computer and my wife or kids have responded, "What?" Second, I had a pretty decent respiratory cold last week and didn't feel like speaking to anyone, let alone my computer. Third, Dragon is only about 95% accurate. Sounds pretty good, right? Keep in mind that a typical blog post is about 1000 words. That means I have to find and repair about 50 errors in each post.
Although Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a wonderful thing, it’s just not the same as typing.
4. Breaking a sweat
I can't remember the last time I broke a sweat. It's impossible for me to move my muscles enough to cause my core temperature to rise enough to require my body to cool itself through sweating. Also, it's uncomfortable for me to be in an environment where the ambient temperature is high enough to cause my body to sweat (without exercise). It’s not that I actually miss sweating. It’s that I miss getting exercise and spending time in the heat.
5. Having a career
I was not a workaholic, and I'd be lying if I said I loved going to work each day, but having a career was at times fulfilling. I always played an important role in the companies I worked for, and people seemed to want me on their teams. I miss the feeling of usefulness that came with my career. And the money. I miss the money too.
6. Being away from Kim
LONDON - JUNE 10:  (UK TABLOID  Actress Heathe...Don't misunderstand. If you've been reading this blog you know that I love my wife dearly, and that even before my disability we spent most of our free time together. However, there were certain activities that I enjoyed which required that I be away from my wife. Some of these activities, such as going away with the guys for a hunting or sports weekend, are not practical for me anymore. I need Kim’s help just to get through the day now. Similarly, Kim used to get away for professional conferences and the occasional ladies weekend. She can still do that if we make certain arrangements, but it's definitely not as easy as it used to be.
7. Playing sports and games
When I was diagnosed at age 38, I wasn’t playing in any men’s sport’s leagues. But I was active. I could shoot a little hoops, play catch, ping pong, bean bags, billiards, Wii, foosball, etc. I was competitive, and won my share of contests. Online cribbage and Pigskin Pickem’ just don’t satisfy my need for play and competition.
A Few Things I Don’t Miss

1. Golf
MS gets the credit for finally making me a quit a game that cost me too much money, caused me to spend too much time away from my family, and left me miserable more often than not. (Don’t send me links to handicapped golfing websites.)
2. Dancing
I always hated dancing. Now I can’t. Ha ha. (Don’t send me ideas for ways that I can dance in my iBot.)
3. Swimming
I could swim enough to keep from drowning, but it’s an activity I never enjoyed. We had swimming pools in two of our houses, and they were wonderful for the kids. I may have jumped in 5 or 6 times per year. I never found that the discomfort of having water get in my eyes and up my nose, or the initial temperature shock, were enough to warrant the meager benefits. I don’t miss swimming. (Don’t send me links to handicapped swimming sites.)
4. The bullshit part of my career
Pointy-Haired BossAs I mentioned above, having a career was a partially rewarding experience, which I partially miss. However, I cannot count the times that I had to deal with absolute bullshit at work. The problem was not tyrannical bosses. Most of them were excellent mentors and all-around good eggs. But that didn't stop them from asking me to do stupid things, for stupid reasons. More often than not this was the result of upper management feeling the pressure to meet month-end, quarter-end, year-end, or even minute-end goals. Satisfying this urge usually required the temporary (and legal) suspension of good business practices. Instead, we adopted poor business practices that would arbitrarily divert revenue away from the next business period, and place it in the current business period, even if this maneuver did not make customers happier or improve the long term health of the company. By playing this game, we set ourselves up to begin each business period already in the hole. Guess how we’d get out of it. That’s right. Near the end of the business period we’d again suspend good business practices so as to steal from the next period. Once you start playing this game it becomes self-perpetuating, an endless loop of jumping through hoops. Fulfilling? Not to me.
Other times I had to deal with bullshit from unreasonable customers, unreliable suppliers, or unnecessary labor unions. Throughout my career, the bullshit factor was often high enough to leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. As a result, my jobs were just jobs, not passions. If I had it to do over again, my primary criteria for deciding upon a career path would be to minimize the bullshit, knowing that I could never completely eliminate it. (Don’t send me links on how to overcome my disability and reintegrate into the workforce.)
Things I Expect to Miss a Year from Now

1. Driving

2. Cutting my own steak at dinner (note from future Mitch: true as of 11/15/10)

3. Getting in and out of bed unassisted
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  1. Oh Mitch, you said it all -- I can so relate. Well, not the first one, of course, but the others rang true. OK, I don't hunt, I don't own an iBot, and I was in a different type of career, but really I know what you're saying. I do miss those things and more, and there are things I so do NOT miss. BTW, I'm already into your secondary list -- don't drive, can't cut my food, and often have problems in bed -- sorry, I mean getting in and out.

    This was an excellent read for me!


  2. Loved this post.
    I certainly agree with going under the radar. I have always been an introvert and hated to have any attention drawn to me, now I can't avoid it. It is hard to be inconspicuous in my wheelchair.

    For me I miss swimming. The water is the one place I can still manage to balance myself anymore.

    You really made some excellent points here.

  3. Yeah, Mitch. What you said. Mostly. Being a girl-type person, I don't miss standing up to pee. And I do miss dancing. Oh, I really miss dancing.

  4. I feel for you Mitch. I know how much life has changed for me in the past few years. Some I miss and some I don't.

  5. Hiya Mitch!

    Nice post. I hear you on the work issues, bud! Double-edged sword that one.

    I'm with you on the swimming too.

  6. I'm with Zoomdoggies, I so miss the dancing. My fondest memories of my travels around this planet often have to do with where I went dancing there. Glad I at least have the memories cause they are nice ones.

    Great post.


  7. You wrote this with such equanimity. I think that is what impresses me the most about you, Mitch. Your unflinching candor.

    Now being the proud owner of an SP catheter, and sporting a BellyBag in lieu of a leg bag, I can understand why you would miss standing up to pee. I can do it on good days and it is remarkably freeing.

  8. Right on. I miss all those, and the driving, all---I get the time away from spouse. I wish I missed the standing to pee, now I DO stand and pee and I mean to be seated. Always want what we don't have. LOL Yeah, I TOTALLY don't miss the job BS, but do miss the job.

  9. Hi Mitch,
    The problem with blogging and opening yourself up to the virtual world is that there are always assholes(like myself) out there that take you to task for your previous words. It seems to me that this post(however true and amusing) might just be in conflict with a previous one regarding "25 Steps to a Happy Life". You are definitely in violation of steps 2 & 21, and perhaps a few more. However, I guess you covered yourself by adding 7.
    By the way, I used to hate dancing too. I sucked! But the iBOT changed all that. I still suck, but who can't love a guy in a wheelchair out on the dance floor?


  10. Pleanantly surprised you didn't add "bullshit from unreasonable employees!" Jen

  11. Muff, glad you liked it...that bed stuff is TMI!

    Rae, I know some people are inclined toward the water. Sorry you can't enjoy that anymore.

    Zoomdoggies, I liked dancing only if I was really, really drunk.

    Weeble, they say change is good. They are ignorant.

    Darren, may you be able to stand and pee into your golden years!

    Judy, I think I was just too shy to enjoy dancing.

    Webster, I may have unflinching candor, or I may be making this all up. Sometimes I wish I was making this all up.

    Diane, thanks for stopping by and catching up.

    Tuna, you sonofabitch. I can't get away with anything. I should be offended by you calling me out, except I'm too busy being thrilled that anyone reads me carefully enough to notice my conflicting posts.

    Jen, excellent point! Not really. I do miss the people (most of them).

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