Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wheelchair Kamikaze – an Unexpected Visit

Marc and I became acquainted when we were hot on the trail of an emerging stem cell treatment in Israel. The total cost was something like $25,000, and, feeling a little desperate, each of us considered how we might fund such a venture. But fortunately, before we threw a bunch of money at an unproven idea, our treatment interests were diverted elsewhere.

If you’re not familiar with Marc, he authors the blog called Wheelchair Kamikaze. His website combines outstanding writing, photography, video production, and research analysis to create what I’m pretty sure is the most widely read MS blog in the world. He was gracious enough to give me some much-needed advice when I started my own blog.

As Marc and I became friends we spent a lot of time emailing and Skyping about treatment options, our mutually beloved Red Sox, or anything else that popped into our heads. We agree on most subjects, but not all. For example, we both embrace the concept of a multiverse- the idea that there is not a single universe but that there are many. Marc likes the theory that slightly different versions of Mitch, or anyone for that matter, live in each of the different universes. I tend to believe that there is only one Mitch, and no alternative Mitch’s are running around (or wheeling around) in the other universes. With such disparate views on the essential nature of our being, it’s a wonder that we can remain civil toward one another.

Kim and I have visited with Marc and his wife Karen several times when we’ve been in the New York City area. There’s nothing quite like a tour of Central Park from a native New Yorker. But Marc isn’t much for traveling outside of the range of his power wheelchair. So I was surprised and pleased when I received an email from him a couple of weeks ago letting me know that he would be passing through Portland on a road trip and would like to stop in for a visit. You can read his entire travel report here.

We chose a nice seafood restaurant for dinner, right on the water. It’s about a 20 minute walk from our house along a paved trail with scenic views of the ocean and the Portland skyline. A homeless friend of ours, Carrie, was staying at our house for a couple of nights, so the reservation was for five.

Throughout the walk to dinner Marc and I tended to end up side-by-side in our wheelchairs, so that we could chat. We compared notes on MS treatments, discussed the best way to grip a joystick on a wheelchair to minimize hand fatigue, and acknowledged how fortunate we have been in the marriage department. By taking up so much space, we often blocked the path for the walkers, joggers and bike riders who we shared it with. Sometimes we got out of the way, and other times we were too deep in conversation to notice. The only remarks we heard from other people were their unnecessary apologies. Wheelchair users can get away with anything.

It was nighttime when we exited the restaurant after a wonderful dinner. Much of the pathway home was unlit, but Kim had brought a flashlight. We soon learned that a single light for five people was about four lights too few. In fact, at one point a bike rider startled our homeless friend, Carrie, almost hitting her. She issued a spontaneous scream, and when no collision ensued and nobody was hurt, we all laughed about it.

Here’s an iPhone shot of one of the views along the walk.

After we returned home from dinner Karen and Marc were able to hang out for a while at our house and pose for these pictures before continuing on their way. This was a memorable visit from two wonderful people. I’ve made so many friends over the Internet in the past few years, but it’s particularly gratifying when I’m able to spend time with them in person.

I suppose I should clarify one item. Our “homeless” friend, Carrie, and her husband Mark have been two of our closest friends for over 25 years. Carrie was only homeless for two days because she had closed on the sale of their house in Maine, and she was waiting for her flight to join Mark at their new place in the San Francisco area. We miss them already, but wish them all the luck in the world on their new adventure.

(Darren, I expect to hear from you re: multiverse.)


  1. Multi-Mitch vs. Uni-Mitch, eh? Clearly someone has been reading waaaay too much sci-fi since childhood. Actually, now that I think about it, there cannot be too much sci-fi!

    Gives me great joy to see my two very favorite bloggers in the world together!

  2. Daphne,

    It's not only science fiction writers who envision multiple universes. Many scientists do as well. But it's a concept that certainly won't be proven in our lifetimes!

    In the MS blogging world I think there is Marc and then everybody else. I'm glad that you think I at least stand out among the everybody else group :-)

  3. I read about the visit on Marc's blog, and I was so happy to see that the two of you got together. Glad the visit went well. And I agree -- there's only room in all the universes combined for one Mitch!

  4. Muffie, let's think about this. If there are other versions of Mitch in other universes, maybe one of them doesn't have MS. On the other hand, maybe one of them died from cancer at a young age. So I think if given the option I would remain the Mitch that I am, MS and all.

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  6. Mitch, thanks for the great write up. Karen and I had a blast with you guys. If string theory is right, and the Multiverse and 11 dimensions are real, I certainly hope that we are friends in all of them…

    Sorry for the deleted comment, above. Dragon screwed me…

  7. Glad you four had a great visit!

    Regarding the physics... If there are multiple universes I would not imagine that there are multiple Mitch's. If no two snowflakes are identical, if chaos is unbounded due to initial conditions, then mathematically there would sprout an infinity of infinities for each atomic movement - which just seems an infinite waste of energy.

    But hey - we're so small in the current scientifically observable universe we can't appreciate the scope of this one, so who's to say human brains are capable of grokking nuances of universal properties any more than a 2D constricted flatlander could understand our higher dimensional corner of the uni- or multi-verse?

    I'm going with universe-agnostic as my answer, for now.

  8. Gosh guys -
    Feel almost jealous that you two got to share time together in person.

    After reading both of your blogs over these past years it feels like I know you.
    Wish we could have all been there!
    Geez now I sound like a stalker - scary!?!
    Nice pictures.

  9. WK, well said. Fucking Dragon…

    Darren, beautiful! The old management phrase "we don't know what we don't know" doesn't seem to do justice here.

    Dee, I did some research and it turns out there is only one Dee in Ohio. Because you are an admitted stalker, I was able to get a restraining order for both me and the Wheelchair Kamikaze. You're not allowed within 100 feet of us, unless you have beer and chocolate chip cookies with you :-)

  10. YIKES - I'm found out!
    I'll bring the beer and "CC" cookies for you and WK
    but I'm bringing wine coolers and M&M cookies for me!