Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Found an Old Email

Thank you in advance for indulging me on this off-topic post. I thought some you might enjoy it.

In the summer of 2000, Kim and I decided to quit our jobs in northern Maine and move to the more populous southern Maine coast. Kim started her new job at Cape Elizabeth Middle School in late August, but I still hadn’t found suitable employment, so I continued on as a contractor at my former employer. I worked mostly from my house, where Amy, Zach, and I still lived. Kim drove home every weekend. In mid-October I could stand it no more, and everyone agreed that the kids would move to southern Maine with Kim, and start school in Cape Elizabeth. I would commute down there on weekends.

I had been told I had possible multiple sclerosis by a physician’s assistant, but a neurologist overruled him, although he couldn't offer an alternative diagnosis. So I knew MS was in the realm of possibilities, but I doubted that I actually had it.

I often sent Kim email updates during the week, and I decided to have a little fun with this one. The note is from Friday, October 20, the kids' last day of school in Lincoln. We would move them to southern Maine on Saturday. Here it is, poor punctuation and grammar on full display.

Friday, October 20, 2000 8:15:10 AM


Here are the morning news updates:

Zach Sturgeon to Spend His Last Night at Friend’s House

In an unexpected move, the mother of one of Zach’s best friends, Lisa French, contacted Zach’s Dad about Zach going to Bangor tonight and spending the night at John French’s house. In an interview Zach’s dad said, “What the hell, it’s his last night. We can probably pack better with him gone anyway.” Statements issued from the Sturgeon house indicate that the French’s will pick up Zach at around 5:00 PM, and drop him off at about 10:00 AM. When asked about the impending move, Zach repeated an oft used phrase during this campaign, “I just can’t wait to meet all those new friends.”

In related news…

Amy Sturgeon to Have Some Girl Named Melissa Spend the Night Tonight

As a counter move to the above story, young Amy Sturgeon coerced her helpless dad into letting her have a friend over tonight. After all, it was only “fair”, she said. When asked how he expected his wife to respond Mr. Sturgeon replied, “Given Amy’s track record of making huge messes when she has friends over, on the surface this may appear to be a poor decision. However given the overwhelming emotion of a last day at school, I think this was the best thing for everyone involved, and I’m sure my lovely wife will support me on this one.”

And then this one…

Pixie to Go South – Children Rejoice

Sources close to the Sturgeon’s indicate that Mr. Sturgeon told his children this morning that the much loved family feline “Pixie” will indeed be making the trip south this weekend. The news was greeted by the children with much hub bub. When asked about the timing of the news, Mr. Sturgeon explained, “the ride to school this morning was a little emotional for everyone. Not on the surface mind you, but you could sense its presence. So, as I dropped Amy off for her last day I decided to give her a little boost to start what is bound to be a very difficult day for her.”

Sturgeon Having Difficulty Getting His Work Done

Is the world renowned former Assistant Superintendent finally washed up? Some people think so. “You can’t even get 40 hours per week in!”, said some guy that looks in the Sturgeon’s windows all day and writes down everything he does. “If he tries to charge the company for 40 hours I’ll tell them the truth, and Sturgeon will finally suffer the public humiliation that he deserves.” When interviewed, Sturgeon replied, “I’ve often sensed this person peering in my windows. I’ll turn suddenly around and only catch his shadow – but I know he’s there. I’ve been so busy with this move and everything, that I’m having a little trouble getting my work done. But if that guy continues to watch me next week he’ll see a whole different person. Hell, I may work 41 hours next week!”

Love ya,


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Persistence and Creativity

As I’ve become more disabled, we’ve had to invent new ways to accomplish even the simplest tasks. Kim and I have developed processes for me to brush my teeth, shave, and eat various foods. We’ve also figured out ways for her to help me shower, get dressed, and get into and out of bed. The list goes on. Because my condition is not stable, we often have to tweak our processes, or throw them out completely in favor of new ones. Our secret to success? We practice persistence and cultivate creativity, and we often apply alliteration (obviously optional).

Sometimes we simply can’t come up with a good solution, and that’s when we call in the expert – my occupational therapist, Maren. Once in a while she has the magic answer, such as, “Oh, they make a gizmo for that. Let’s google it.” But more often than not we just start brainstorming, and she’s really good at that. She has a collection of materials in her car, duct tape included, which we have used to build prototype assistive devices many times. We are persistent, because most ideas are bad ones, and it sometimes takes many tries to find a good one. We are creative, because some of the best ideas sound crazy at first, but make perfect sense in the end.

Lately, due to spasticity, my feet have been falling off my foot pedals a lot, and I’ve had trouble getting them back on. Earlier today I had an idea. If I could raise my wheelchair up high enough, I could put my feet down on my bed, and then tug on my pant legs to get my feet onto the wheelchair’s foot pedals. I tried it, but it didn’t work. The bed was too high, and the blankets held too tightly to the soles of my shoes. I was disappointed, but only for a moment.

I noticed a footstool at the end of the bed. It’s there so our dog Phoebe can jump up onto the mattress. After getting the okay from Phoebe, I tried the same process with her footstool as I had with our bed. It worked! I was quite pleased with myself.

Persistence and creativity, essential tools for everyone, but especially the disabled.