In 1996, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is a chronic disease (always there, no breaks) that is progressive (it gets worse with time) and disabling (I began with a slight limp and now use a wheelchair). At twenty-one years of age, it's old enough to drink. Personally, I don't imbibe any alcohol, but it's welcome to drink itself to death
I "celebrated" my twenty-first anniversary with ms by getting a new motorized wheelchair. This thing can recline until my feet are elevated above my heart; I can raise the seat 8" to reach items in higher shelves at the store; it can cruise along at a blinding 7.6 mph, which is fast enough that Kobe has to run to keep up with me; it comes with a cell phone charger; it has blue tooth, headlights, taillights, turn signals, and four-way flashers. The only things missing are a blue ray player and a wet bar.
We capitalize names as a sign of respect (God, United States of America, etc.), an honor I refuse to bestow on ms. I prefer to call it, "the bastard."
In my PMS days (prior to ms), I exercised my creativity by designing and building furniture. I made most of the cabinets, tables and shelves in my home. As the disability progressed, however, I was no longer able to do that work. One of the physiological effects of ms is the destruction of brain cells. Fortunately, the cells I've lost are the ones I wasn't using anyway, and I channeled my imagination and creativity into writing.
PN Magazine, a publication of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), has printed seventeen articles I have written regarding life with ms. They are:
December2001: Multiple Sclerosis: An Owner's Manual
July 2002: The View From Belt Buckle Height
February 2003: The Whole Enchilada
November 2003: Changing Your Oil Naturally
August 2004: Grabbing the Wheel
December 2006: Cranberries for the Soul
December 2007: Two Left Feet
August 2008: In My Right Mind
July 2009: Living in a Friendly Universe
October 2010: When Your Instincts Speak
July 2012: And the Hits Just Keep On Comin'
October 2013: Good Grief!
December 2014: Because I Can!
November 2015: Thanks, I Needed That
November 2016: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
November 2017: That's How We Roll
November 2018: Dependent Independence
PN Magazine has published my most recent article, "Dependent Independence" in its November 2018 issue. In it, I examine the role of caregivers, in general, and of my wife, Claudia, in particular, and how she prepares things for me in order that I may maintain my independence. My article appears on pp. 20-21.
The photo below was taken behind the Tampa VA hospital's nursing home, where Kobe and I spend most of our volunteer time. We have volunteered almost every week for four hours per day since June 2014, and have given over 500 volunteer hours to the patients and Community Living Center residents at the VA hospital.