Feet Up

By Doug Ankerman

Kick back. Tune out. Unplug. Turn off. Relaxing is as simple as that, right?

Maybe. But it helps.

Today’s totable technology makes it difficult to “get away from it all.” Laptops, cellphones, Bluetooth, iPods, WiFi…the list is longer than your power cord.

There is no escaping the news, the noise or pictures of what Sharon ordered at that Italian joint.

With MS my brain & body are frazzled enough. The buzz of mindless clutter only adds to a defragged nervous system.

As a self-proclaimed news junkie, it’s even harder for me to step away from the gear to find my blissful “chi.” But it can be done. And it may be easier than you think.

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All About the “h”

By Doug Ankerman

There are two sides to every issue. You have the pros & the cons, the agree & disagree and the ever-popular for & against.

Summer is one of those issues that is widely split. Some love it while others can’t stand the thought. As I will explain, the big difference between the two sides is all about the “h.”

Picture of a blue Etch A Sketch saying Ah Summer and Ahhhh Summer drawn by guest blogger Doug Ankerman

“Ah Summer!” people. They thrive during this season. Basking in the warmth. Soaking up the sun in all vitamin D glory. Energy & vitality all day long.

Meanwhile, “Ahhhh Summer!” people do their best to avoid the season’s amenities. Lurking in the shadows away from direct sun. Never straying far from AC or a powerful fan.

Unfortunately, those of us with multiple sclerosis tend to be in the “Ahhhh Summer!” group. The harsh sun drains our energy like a V-8 engine uses gas driving up a mountain. Plus, summer’s high temps and thick humidity soak us further into a wretched pile of human goo. But no need to suffer my friend as there are ways to make your summer pleasant & comfortable.  Here are a few of my favs…

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A Hobby Lobby

By Doug Ankerman

Work may define us but it is our hobbies that makes us unique.

Hobbies give you zest. Give you fire. They put a sparkle in your eye.

A hobby is what makes you – YOU.

So don’t let anything, like the dreaded ick we call multiple sclerosis, take your hobbies away from you.

MS is no reason to give up an activity you love. Accommodations can be made so you may continue doing what you want to do.

Like to paint but can’t hold a brush? Don’t let that stop you. There are dozens of computer programs that allow you to create (and no messy clean-up!).

Like to dance but can’t stand? Take a chair onto the dance floor, plop down & shake your bootie, dammit. Believe me, you’ll have more dance partners than you can handle as others will gravitate to your spunk.

Like to garden? Get down & get dirty. I can’t walk in grass & mulch either, so I crawl through the flowerbeds slow as an earthworm. A garden gnome with filthy knees.

My point is, you can do whatever you want…by planning. Come to terms with your MS by saying “We’re gonna do it within reason, and this is how.” Then do it.

Here are a few of my favorite daily activities…

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AFO-Yeah

By Doug Ankerman

I’m not a betting man but if you have multiple sclerosis, odds are in your favor you suffer from foot drop.  Foot drop is that draggy, MS hex where your foot never seems to clear the floor for a normal step. It hinders your balance and can make you prone to falls.

The most popular way to beat foot drop is wearing an ankle foot orthotic or AFO.

AFO’s aren’t cheap (what medical device is?), so it would seem an AFO should have more uses than just preventing foot drop.

That’s where I come in.

After much research, here are some other ways your AFO can help around the house…

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Hands In The Air

By Doug Ankerman

I compare my MS experience to that of riding a roller coaster.

Buckled in I began a long, slow climb up the hill having all sorts of weird numbness and tingling. A draggy foot. A few falls. Heck, I didn’t know what was happening.

As the coaster reached the very crest, I was given a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis just before the speeding plunge down the other side. Hairpin turns, twists and loop de loops followed. Some riders screamed, putting their hands in the air – but not me. No way. I held on with a death grip. I was too terrified to let go. I mean, who knew where this out-of-control journey would take me?

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In My Opinion

By Doug Ankerman

It’s a well-known fact multiple sclerosis is different for each individual. What pains you might not bother me at all. MS symptoms can be as unique as one’s personality.

That’s why writing about the “ABC’s of MS” can be a real toss-up.

What “ABC” means to you could be totally different from what I believe.

Your “ABC” could mean “Always Buy Crisco.” Maybe it stands for “Absolute Best Cat.” Or, short for “A Bulky Corduroy.”

Only you know your particular definition.

In my experience, the “ABC’s of MS” stands for “Any Bathroom Close?”

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A Slew of Hope

By Doug Ankerman

Having hope is what keeps us going. Hope drives us. Hope motivates. Hope encompasses everything we live for — even the silly things, like these…

Hope I can wear these sweatpants another day.

Hope I can sleep tonight.

Hope I can make it to the bathroom.

Hope the tile floor isn’t wet.

Hope I don’t have to walk through the grass.

Hope it’s not too hot.

Hope it’s not too cold.

Hope no change on my MRI.

Hope I can remember your name.

Hope they have a fork.

Hope I can just “splash-n-spritz” and not take a shower.

Hope my shoes are handy.

Hope I can stay awake at the movie.

Hope they have close parking.

Hope there is shade.

Hope there’s a place to sit.

Hope this post doesn’t go on much longer.

Hope I still have another prescription refill.

Hope my pill-case isn’t lying (This IS Wednesday, right?).

Hope these socks match.

Hope the car has enough gas.

Hope I can open this ketchup packet.

Whoops. Hope Tide-To-Go works on this.

Hope no one sees me dressed like this.

Hope I don’t have to go upstairs again.

Hope my appointment is in the morning.

Hope this isn’t fattening (Who am I kidding).

Hope this isn’t another robocall.

I can’t read this — hope I can find my cheaters.

Hope this ends before I nod-zzzzzzzzzzzz

Hope YOU have a tremendous 2022!

Doug writes goofy things about MS and other stuff on his humor blog at myoddsock.com.

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What is this?

By Doug Ankerman

Several months after I was bestowed with my MS diagnosis, I hit a rough patch.

My legs were weak and wobbly. My balance off-kilter. But the worst, was my vision.

My focus would go in and out. While bright lights turned me into a shriveling shrew.

Oncoming car headlights forced me to wear sunglasses at night. Not in tribute to 80’s pop-star Corey Hart, but because the glare was blinding.

(Yeah, I continued to drive because I was young, dumb, and bull-headed.)

What was I experiencing? A relapse? A flare? An exacerbation? Frankly I didn’t care what it was called—all I knew was that I was terrified.

My mind spun wildly. Was my condition here to stay? Was this my new life? Did Corey Hart have MS, too?

Lucky for me a three-day bender of IV steroids (and with it, the taste of sucking on an iron popsicle) helped put things back to normal. Well, as normal as MS could be.

Time passed. Relapse-free. But multiple sclerosis continued a slow, gradual nip and tuck at my faculties till doctors gave me the title of being “secondary-progressive.”

Which was fine. Whatever. It was just name to me. Some may think my outlook is trite but I believe when one has MS, you toughen up. You learn to deal with every situation. And take nothing for granted. You appreciate small victories. Cherish every moment. Live each day like crazy. Because when you have MS, you know how quickly things can change.

If you think you are experiencing a MS relapse, talk to your doctor first. But also remain calm. Breathe deep. And if you can avoid it, don’t wear sunglasses at night.

*Doug writes silly stuff about MS and other topics on his humor blog at myoddsock.com.

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Too Too Hot

By Doug Ankerman

Yep that’s me in my usual place on hot days… laying in front of the register, hogging all the AC.

Except on THIS hot day (the 1st one of the season) our air conditioning was on the fritz. There would be no refreshingly cool splendor till we had someone come check it out.

Our neighbor knew a guy who knew a guy who did AC work on the side. Always looking to save a few bucks, we called the “mystery guy” named Dennis who said he wouldn’t be available for a couple days.

“No prob,” we replied. “We’ll see you then!”

What followed was a stretch of near 90 degree temps with thick Ohio humidity you could serve with a ladle.

Yes, I was fried.  My MS-infused nerve endings were popping like bacon on a hot skillet. My dogged feet dragged ruts in the carpet going room-to-room in search of a cool spot.

I baked. It would have been cooler in the oven had I turned on the exhaust fan.

I rejoiced as word came that Dennis, my new-found AC savior, would be here the following afternoon. That night was another restless slumber. I actually had to be peeled from the sheets getting up in the morning.

My legs were weak. My arms were numb. I was Betty Spaghetti’s older brother, Bobby.

Put me in a strainer ‘cuz I was 180 lbs of cooked pasta.

Dennis knocked on the door promptly at 3:30. After I finished kissing his scuffed boots, he and his tools commenced to work on our defunct air conditioning.

A mere five minutes later the behemoth box was humming with life. Seems it had been turned off outside and all Dennis had to do was flip a switch. (We had new siding installed last fall so the siding guy disconnected the AC and simply forgot to turn it back on.)

Cool air returned — and slowly, so did feeling in my body.

Thanks to Dennis I have returned to my usual summer haunt. Hogging all the air. A glutton for comfort, I am.

I tell you this tale because you already know the tricks of keeping cool when temps flare. So I’ll just remind you to be careful. Work slow and steady. And enjoy the too too hot summer wisely.

*Doug writes silly stuff about MS and other topics on his humor blog at myoddsock.com

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Don’t Wait, Act Now!

By Doug Ankerman

There are things we are reminded to do on a regular basis.

Replace batteries in smoke alarm
Floss
Rotate tires

Some are to be done seasonally, others annually.

Change furnace filter
Swap baking soda in fridge
Have eye exam

And yet, others are on an “as needed” basis.

Cut toe nails
Vacuum inside car
Shave back

But what I ask is… “Why wait to make a change or a new beginning?”

Why wait till a new season? Till the new year? The next month? Or, even Monday?

Do it now. This moment. There’s nothing stopping you. Do something right now to improve your being. It doesn’t have to be huge. Drink water instead of soda. Eat a piece of fruit. Stretch your weary legs. Take a deep breath. Dance to music. Make a silly face.

My point is, don’t wait to begin anew. Certainly, our nemesis multiple sclerosis doesn’t wait around. It doesn’t wait for the following day, week or month to wreak havoc. Heck no, that bad boy changes constantly. So we must be willing to change with it.

A fresh start, or a new beginning can happen anytime YOU want it to. There is no need to put it off till the flip of a calendar. You can make a change right now. This very instant.

Replace car’s air filter
Have an MRI
Clean dryer vent

Okay, okay, I understand the importance of replacing batteries in one’s smoke alarm—but don’t put a timeline on improving yourself.

Get started right now. That other stuff can wait.

*When not shaving his back, Doug writes goofy stuff about MS and other topics on his humor blog at myoddsock.com

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