I've owned more than my share of man-toys over the years. The minimalists among us might argue that this is nothing to be proud of. But I’d like to think that I owned my toys for only the best of reasons- to help me live my life to its fullest. I never felt like I was flaunting my financial success, or in any way being wasteful or frivolous. But that's just my take on the situation.
Over the last three years or so, I've been parting with these man-toys at a steady pace (I mean no offense to my female readers who also enjoy such items…it’s just that in my world these are principally male extravagances). As my MS has progressed, especially in my arms and hands, I've divested myself of the toys that I can no longer enjoy. I've held onto them as long as I could, employing adaptations where possible, until it just didn't make sense anymore or became a safety issue. Below is a brief summary of the items I've parted with:
Golf clubs- I had a love/hate relationship with this sport, but I did have one amazing shot, and wrote about it here.
Hunting Camp Lot- We sold our original hunting camp and purchased property to build a new one, but ended up selling the land so that I could buy my iBot wheelchair (arguably a crippled-man-toy). I still enjoy some limited deer hunting, which I wrote about here.
2 Snowmobiles and a covered snowmobile trailer- Snowmobiling was one of my greatest passions, and I wrote about it here.
4WD, full size pickup- I loved this pickup, but after a while I couldn't manage to get up into the seat anymore.
Pop up camper- This camper and others before it were a significant source of good, wholesome family fun. Eventually I couldn't get up the stairs into the camper, so we sold it.
2 ATV’S and a double trailer- I used these ATV’s for recreational riding with Zach and for deer hunting. They gave me passage into the wilderness. I sold them two years ago when I couldn't get on and off of them anymore, and had difficulty operating the controls.
Lawn Tractor- I just sold my lawn tractor this morning. Our lawn is not well suited for a big mower, but we bought it anyway when we moved into this house so that I could enjoy cutting the grass. Each year it became a little more difficult for me to get into and out of the tractor. Yesterday Kim and I attempted an overly-elaborate and ill-conceived boarding procedure that nearly resulted in her throwing out her knee and me crumpling to the floor. But we persevered, and I mowed the lawn one last time.
2 kayaks- I haven't sold these yet, but neither have I taken them out in two years. My kids keep promising that they’ll use them; I keep threatening to sell them for lack of use (sell the kayaks, not the kids…they are already 18+ years old).
Again, some would contend that ridding myself of all of these material possessions is not entirely a bad thing. Simplifying my life and impacting the environment less is to some extent noble. The other consolation has been the influx of cash that I've experienced each time I sold one of my toys, usually on Craigslist. This is not to say that I've been happy or even indifferent about losing the ability to enjoy any of these activities (except maybe golf), but the cash takes a tiny bit of the sting away. Imagine if I was required to pay to relinquish these life passions.
I must say that I'm pleased with how I've coped with these losses. I’ve not allowed myself to spend too much time lamenting my misfortune. I've simply accepted my fate and moved on. Despite these disappointments and others not mentioned here, and with the support of family and friends, I've continued to live a contented life.
Oh, there’s one more toy to discuss:
Handcycle- I've ignored my handcycle all spring and summer. I keep coming up with excuses, like it's too hot or too cold outside, or I'm too tired or that I need to save my energy for an activity later in the day. But I know what's really going on. I can’t face the possibility that, like all my other toys, I just can't play with this one anymore. My beloved handcycle has been a savior for me throughout my disability. I wrote about it here.
I have a plan. If I continue to simply avoid my handcycle, then I won’t be let down, hence preserving the notion that I can still ride it whenever I please. Up to this point in my ten-year MS ordeal I’ve not allowed myself the indulgence of denial. Maybe I will, just this once.