What’s the Alternative?

By Doug Ankerman

As a twenty-two year member of the MS Club, I have tried more than my share of alternative approaches to treat multiple sclerosis.  From diets to massage to supplements like turmeric and aloe vera gel.  I’ve questioned my dentist about Mercury fillings.  Researched into CCSVI.  With secondary-progressive MS, I found myself grasping at anything and everything to slow the gradual downward slide.

Here are a few others I’ve dabbled with… Continue reading

Share

Progressive Talk

By Doug Ankerman

The word “progressive” brings to mind images of broad, dynamic thinking.

Progressive is fresh.  Progressive is modern.  Progressive is revolutionary in every aspect.

Progressive was NOT me in any way, shape or form.

Just look at me as a kid.  Absolutely nothing progressive.  Big ears.  Big head.  Eddie Munster hair.  Shy.  Backward.  Sucked my thumb till I was eight-years-old.

My progressive aversion continued well into adulthood till finally being tagged “Secondary-Progressive” years into my MS journey.

It was the first-time I had been “progressive” at anything.

Though my new-found classification never bothered me because I figured I had had Progressive MS since day one.  I never experienced the ups and downs of Relapsing-Remitting.  It’s always been a gradual downhill slide.  Like the most boring roller coaster ride ever.  Like a driveway tilted just enough to let the rain run to the curb.

Having the label “Progressive MS” was no biggie to me because it is just that – a label.  Someone’s opinion.  A moniker.  A mark.  My hope is you feel the same way.

Whether your MS is RR (Relapsing-Remitting), SP (Secondary-Progressive), PP (Primary-Progressive) or CP (Chronic Progressive), it doesn’t matter.  MS doesn’t define you.  MS doesn’t limit you.  So don’t let it change you.

After twenty-two years I have come to accept my progressive MS…it’s my not-so progressive sense of fashion that continues to embarrass my wife in public…

But I LOVE my cargo shorts, honey!

All this progressive talk reminds me today, March 28th, is the first-ever Progressive MS Day, a day raising awareness for those living with the most debilitating forms of the disease.  You can help spread the word in your social media by using the official hashtag: #ProgressiveMSDay.

Join me as I give #ProgressiveMSDay a well-deserved sitting ovation.

Keep moving my friend.

*Doug writes about MS and other stuff on his humor blog at myoddsock.com, Facebook.com/myoddsock & on Twitter @myoddsock.

Share

Between You and I

By Doug Ankerman

Time we had a chat. A good ‘ol face to face.

You know we have a few things in common, right?

First, we both have multiple sclerosis. Me, since 1996. An MS diagnosis can be difficult to accept but over time you realize you can’t change the past so you must work to positively improve the future.

Which leads me to the second thing we have in common…muscles.

Did you know we have around 640 muscles in our bodies? That’s not 640 between us, you have 640 muscles and I have 640 muscles. (Although looking at me one might think I left a few hundred muscles in my other shirt!)

And those muscles…your muscles, my muscles, our muscles…want to move!  They want to be stretched, strengthened, and energized.

Meanwhile, multiple sclerosis wants to painfully wretch, tighten, and shorten your muscles till they cry “Uncle.”

So we must have a plan to keep that from happening. We must prioritize our needs to keep our bodies strong, loose, and resilient.

We must make our health the number-one, numero-uno priority. We must give our body what it needs and craves. Give it movement. As much as you can. Reach. Reach further. Now to the other side. Twist. Turn. Then do it again. Get up. Walk if you can. Extend your arms. Move your legs. Wiggle your feet. Do it standing or sitting – it doesn’t matter how because anything counts. Every little movement helps. It doesn’t have to be intense. And you don’t need a gym membership. You just need to keep moving those muscles. All 640 of them. The more your muscles move – the better they move.

MS is a bugger that doesn’t give up. So neither must you.

Make time for you and your muscles. Two minute here, ten minutes there. Move during the commercials while watching television (You never like them anyway!).

Make it your first priority. You will feel better. Feel positive. Muscles will loosen and let the energy flow throughout the body.

Remember, movement means mobility.

I’m so glad we had a chance to talk. Now we know what we need to do. So go ahead. Get started. Get going and move!

*Doug writes about MS and other nonsense with a humorous twist at myoddsock.com.

Share

Shopping at Chair Level

By Doug Ankerman

The holiday season means it is time to hunker down into my wheelchair and face the Christmas hustle and bustle at seated-eye level.

Yes, Christmas shopping is all the merrier from the seated position. (Now I know why Santa is always sitting down!)

So with my list in-hand, let’s roll to the mall and purchase our “gifts of joy”……because nothing says “you are special to me” MORE than a shiatsu massaging cushion from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Come on in

My first hurdle is just getting into the dang store!

This entrance at Sears is clearly marked “handicap accessible,” yet, there is no button to open the door. Forget the wheelchair, I quickly realize my “handicap” is trying to get into the place!

Usually, another courteous shopper will be nearby to help hold the door for you…..but this is Sears. I’ve seen ghost towns with more foot traffic!

Seasonal spirit

I’ve noticed store clerks and other shoppers are extremely helpful when you are in a wheelchair. They go out of their way to assist you. I figure, they feel bad because this guy has wheels for feet. That’s why I am always “over-the-top” positive when in my chair as I try to dispel the “woe is me” wheelchair image.

The squeeze is on

Shopping in a wheelchair can be tough battling crowds and parking — but the real challenge is in the aisles.

The squeeze is on as you try to fit between the displays for house slippers, glittery turtlenecks and NutriBullets.

Here’s an aisle that would be a tight fit for an anorexic fashion model — let alone a wheelchair!

Going through there gave me greater appreciation of  birth.

Caution: Stay Back

Finally, from a seated position, you tend to get an in-your-face view of everyone’s backside.

Gluteus I-Maximus.  I’ve seen butt cracks that make the San Andreas’ fault seem like a fine line.

Hip Huggers scream “uncle” in mercy.  I saw a jeans tag I gotta believe was triple digits!   If denim was an animal — the species would be extinct!

And from my box seat, it is not only “seeing is believing”…no, you see, I get to enjoy the “sounds and smells” of the season as well, if you will.  Let me put it this way, no one claims to eat the holiday fruitcake, but someone is — and I am caught in the cloudy, odoriferous haze that follows.

Through crowds, long lines, charge cards and gift receipts…wheelchairs or not, we muddle through to finish our holiday shopping with moments to spare.  Just enough time to catch our breath before we gather with family & friends — AND gear-up for our December 26th visit to the stores to return our house slippers, glittery turtlenecks and NutriBullet, right?  May you have a tremendous Christmas holiday!

*Doug writes about MS and other nonsense with a humorous twist at myoddsock.com.

Share

An Ode to Mobility Aids

By Doug Ankerman

As one with multiple sclerosis for twenty-one years, I have much gratitude and thankfulness to share.

Certainly family comes to mind with their heartfelt devotion, care and attention to my round-the-clock stumbling.  My health practitioners earn a much deserved shout-out.  As do complete strangers willing to help load packages into my car, offering their place in long lines, to the deputy opening the cell door.

But this isn’t about them.

This message of gratitude honors the gaggle of mobility aids I depend upon each day.

First, my wheelchair.  My loyal steed.  Though reluctant to use the chair at first, it has become a savior of independence.  Taking me through sun, snow, rain and mud, my wheelchair has jostled my backside countless miles.  It has allowed me to see nature’s wonders.  Witness major events.  And traverse cavernous big-box stores.  Yes, independence would not be possible without my chair and for that I am grateful.

Next, my rollator.  The rollator sits in the garage mostly waiting for yard work to be done.  On those intrepid days, the rollator allows me to walk over uneven grass while keeping my weaving body upright.

Plus the rollator’s basket is perfect for carrying small gardening tools, gloves and chilled beverages on warm days.  (An MSer must keep hydrated, you know.)

Lastly, canes are my everything.  Always within arm’s reach.  Canes allow me to shuffle along without leaving messy fingerprints on the walls.  My canes help me stand.  Canes let me look someone in the eye.  And feel somewhat unburdened.  Although my gait is glacier-esque in speed, I have tried to create an illusion of fleet-footedness with the clever use of Nike swooshes added to their tips.

If you are curious, they didn’t help.  I am still sloth-slow.

My mobility aids have given me life post-diagnosis.  Hand controls, wheelchair, AFO, rollator, Dyna-splint, canes, grab bars, I feel like the Inspector Gadget of disability.  But it is all for a purpose.  A purpose of independence.  And for that I am grateful.

Share

MS Skills

By Doug Ankerman

It can be difficult to accept when multiple sclerosis steals your ability to work.  A lifetime of training and talent gone.  Poof.  I know it was for me after giving over twenty years of sweat and soul in radio and advertising.

But because you have MS doesn’t mean it’s over, man.  You simply need to change your perspective.

Having MS has given me (and probably you) a whole new skill-set from which to draw upon.

Let me explain with a tongue-in-cheek look at an MSer’s new level of expertise…..

Meticulous Note Taker:  You write down everything to recall dates, times, appointments, names, to-do, shopping lists and more.  Sticky notes are your blessing.  And because your handwriting is so sloppy – only YOU can decipher your scribbles.

Medical Equipment Operator:  You are quick to determine which piece of equipment you will need to accomplish a task.  “I have the energy to walk today with canes.”  Or, “I feel weak so I’ll use a scooter.”  Also, you are the only one who knows how to properly collapse a rollator/wheelchair.

Personal Charging Station:  You can doze off anytime, anywhere, in any situation or body position.  Only you can snooze in a straight-back chair.  Ten minutes to recharge and refuel and you are good to go.

Pro MRI Taker:  You have done this so many times there is no fear of the tube.  You thumb your nose at a Contrast.  By knowing the difference of the machine’s bings and boings, you know when you can wriggle, shift and scratch.

Restroom Consultant:  Because of MS, you have tried them all.  Therefore you know the best and the worst.  The clean and the filthy.  The accessible & the not so.  Because of your expertise, some call you the “Triple A” of public bathrooms.

Floor Surface Evaluator:  You have the ability to determine the walk-ability of the environment.  You are alert to surfaces that are rough, slippery, thick, plush, wet or uneven.  Uphill and downhill are no match to an MSer’s precise judgment.

Finally,

Stain Lifter:  As one with MS you know how to get out food stains.  You know when to blot and when to dab.  When to rinse in cold water or when to pre-soak.  While some carry an EpiPen, those of us with MS are never far from a Tide-To-Go.  Being sloppy has a down-side, but an MSer is always prepared.

See, you DO have skills and talents that set you apart from the rest.  Most importantly, you have the confidence to look MS in the eye and prevail.  Multiple sclerosis can’t take your determination, intelligence, or guts unless you allow it.  Hold your head up.  Be proud.  And keep fighting.

*Doug pokes fun at MS and other nonsense on his humor website at myoddsock.com. He also disappoints his family on Twitter @myoddsock.

Share

Exercise Your Face Off

By Doug Ankerman

I’m a huge advocate of exercise and stretching in the battle with multiple sclerosis.

Though I understand many of us (me included) have trouble with standing, walking and some basic movements of working out, there is one neglected area of our body we CAN exercise…our face!

Did you know you have 43 muscles in your face just waiting to be used?

Instead, we let gravity take over by pulling our faces downward.  Sagging till we look less like ourselves – and more like Droopy Dog.

Forget all those age-reducing potions and the creamy-crap you smear on each day.  Start looking younger from the inside out by toning up the muscles of your grill.

Exercising your face is goofy-fun and so easy to do even those of us with MS can do it!

I’ve put on my 80’s fitness gear to show you how…..

Make your face reeeeaaal small.  Squeeze your eyes shut.  Purse you lips like sucking on a lemon.

Then make your face big.  Big as ever.  Eyes wide.  Mouth open (Careful of flies).  And do it over and over again several times.

Scrunch your face to the right.

And take it to the left.

Do it again and again.

Wiggle your eyebrows best you can.

Puff out your cheeks.

Crinkle your sniffer.

Stick out your tongue.

Smile big.

Smile bigger.

Work your lips like you are making out with your favorite movie star.  (Mine is Clint Eastwood so I’ll rethink that one!)

You can’t go wrong because ANY exaggerated movement is great for the face.  And you’ll feel instant results.  Your face will feel tighter, firmer and toner (Wait, that’s not a word).

You can exercise your face in just a couple of minutes.  And you can do it anywhere except public places as others may think you have a tic.

Maybe as an MSer, we can’t walk so well, but we can look fabulous!

Get started now.  You’ll thank me later.

*Doug pokes fun at MS and other nonsense on his humor website at myoddsock.com. He also disappoints his family on Twitter @myoddsock.

Share

B & B

By Doug Ankerman

Let’s be frank.  You have MS.  I have MS.  So we have that in common.

It also means we may have similar problems when it comes to B & B.  No, not bed & breakfast.  B & B as in bowel & bladder.

Yeah it’s not enough that MS throws a wrench in the works with our gait, balance, vision, emotions, memory, dexterity and much more – but it also takes a swing below the belt with potty stuff, namely lightning-fast urgency to go and crushing constipation.

But after over 20 years of shared bliss with multiple sclerosis, I’m used to it.  In fact, the bowel and bladder have become such an influential part of my life, I carry their picture in my wallet.

Every day my bowel & bladder taunt me, tease me and pick on me like two older brothers raze the youngest sibling.  So I must stay close to the little boy’s room.  At times it’s like being tethered to the toilet.  I feel like an astronaut on a spacewalk, only getting so far away from the ship.  Or the bathroom in my case.

As a result, I believe my bladder has some type of built-in sensor, like a urological GPS unit.

It knows the location of every restroom near and far.  And like a dog, I must leave my mark in every one.

Another element of MS you probably already know…is the closer you get to the bathroom – the more urgent you have to go.  Sometimes my urge is so strong I begin the whole “unsnapping, unbuckling and unzipping” process before I get the door closed.

And be warned as the “festivities of going” usually begin as soon as your foot crosses the threshold of the bathroom.  The bladder figures “Hey, I’m in the war zone, might as well fire the first shot!”

I could go on why we MSer’s are so consumed with our “B & B’s”, but what’s the point.

We really aren’t that fond of these vital organs, they simply control our every movement…Strike that (Poor word choice)…MSers must keep close tabs of every nuance of our faculties.

Just add it to everything else we have to be aware of, right?

Keep fighting.

*Doug pokes fun at MS and other nonsense on his humor website at myoddsock.com. He also disappoints his family on Twitter @myoddsock.

Share