Slaying Your Dragon, (contrary to the interpretation of the Urban dictionary) is synonymous with the likes of kicking ass and taking names, shut up and deal with it, harden your heart, give up the ghost, call it whatever you damn well please but just execute it. Those warriors out there battling illness or even life’s persecution need no explanation from me, and are enduring exactly what I am expressing. The smallest of tasks that the generally healthy take for granted like "jumping" in the car, "running" in to the store, "grabbing" a bite to eat, and "popping" out of bed are incredibly daunting tasks to those of us challenged physically. Instead, every day is like "slaying the dragon." We experience an ongoing war and are forced to ensue a battle with even the minutest vocations. Something like answering the telephone on certain days can become as laborious as forty hours of overtime. Just a routine morning shower, "throwing" on some clothes, having breakfast and making my way to the car and I am ready to take a break. It’s like running a 29 mile marathon every morning without even leaving bed. The mere thought of the process, of which I must rehearse in my mind to prepare for the day, often times leaves me in a state of panic and anxiousness and bewilderment, yet there is something pushing me, lifting me, propping me, kicking me in the ass that inhibits this MF'er from losing the war to MS or even just giving it the satisfaction.
Often times prior to getting out of bed I must first practice a bit of shamanism, or meditate as if all the weight in the world has dissipated from my body, and then opposing forces inside me are now charged and in turn thrust deeply into the inner frustration and anger of my atrocity, using its negativity as strength and power. In one fowl swoop and momentus propulsion I swing myself with a series of motions to a semi upright position on the walker, and with an enormous grunt or a groan will involuntarily squeeze every lower body muscle, blood rushing to my head, and then with a yell or growl I will then curse the illness as if it’s someone in the room. Partly because the muscle spasms had neglected me from obtaining any rest, and instead I get up feeling the likes of the aftermath of four quarters of tackle football, but mostly because I am just plain old pissed off and although I may scare the shit out of anyone in the bedroom, especially Linda, this routine is a necessity if I am going to slay this dragon. The first 20 seconds of my day can dictate the remaining 86,380, so unless I have my mojo going, I better think twice about getting up.
Rising from bed can be the single most important decision for anyone battling any illness emotional or physical. I know it’s not always even a possibility for some, but motivation, encouragement, desire or just plain necessity can dictate this process. I do not care how horrible the night went, or the lack of sleep that has left me exhausted, staying in the sack is not an option. Knowing that my family is counting on me to provide for them or a customer or colleague at work has asked for my services are examples of two driving forces for me to rise in the morning. There are many mornings where I would love to stay in bed, grieving, recuperating, pissing and moaning, or just hiding from the day, but that would be surrendering.
Many mornings I arise in a condition worse off than when I went to bed the night prior. It may either be debilitating pain in my back or extremities, extreme numbness, severe vertigo or whatever. Instead of focusing on these ailments I try to use them as motivation. "Bring it on", I often yell out, or "is that all you got" I will ask this evil power as if it’s not inside me but standing across from me, laughing, chuckling, and enjoying its assault on my body. I have no intentions on allowing this beast free passage and treat it as a competitive foe and never a friend. Teaming up with this monster would be accepting, acquiring and obtaining its evil, instead my method allows me the power to renounce, dispute and repudiate it. I refer to MS as "bastard", "monster", "beast", "hell", and in my mind picture a sloppy, disheveled, fat, lethargic, despicable gargoyle with no teeth, unshaven, gargantuan pig constantly in my grill challenging me. This slob I see has two little strings of hair that hang in its face, and a methodical little grin. This overall depiction is often what drives me.
I try to use the walker, as much as I and my kids despise it, as often as I can. Niko, who is now driving by permit, refers to the walker as his "nemesis", and often times will not park the van in the garage if the walker is anywhere near, as it deters his thought and his inexperience maneuvering around it results in his inability to properly position the vehicle. It’s actually quite humorous. However, complacency would be to settle for the wheelchair, and although some days I know I really shouldn’t be walking for the fact I could easily fall, I push through the pain or fatigue in an attempt to keep atrophy at bay. Muscles easily turn loose and when slaying this dragon, it’s either use it or lose it.
Driving has also become a challenge considering after approximately three toe lifts from pedal to pedal, my shin becomes fatigued and reaction time slows down considerably. To remedy this I simply use my right hand and lift my leg up and down to apply pressure to the appropriate pedal. I do often envision what might happen if I had the need for a sudden stop or a flat tire or a fender bender, but that volatility just creates anxiety and again that is only forward thinking and future thinking, which in my world do absolutely no good. Living in the present is soup d'jour. Driving is a privilege, and the masses would never realize that fact until it was taken away. There is certain independence to being behind the wheel and I have no plans of ever forfeiting that right. Aside from the low back pain, and my unorthodox driving style, being behind the wheel allows me to feel "normal"and independent, and provides the opportunity to fraternize with the rest of the world while actually taking part in life’s energy and flow.
Aside from driving, work is the pinnacle of the day for me and without it I would not be a very nice companion. For me its fielding phone calls, internet orders, customer concerns, scooter rides throughout the warehouse, constant and consistent chiding amongst coworkers, and problem solving that I consider therapy. Last week a customer was staring at me as I was unloading from my car to the scooter and Don and I caught a glimpse of what was truly a relatively innocuous stare. "Shock and awe" I call it, and when he finally realized we noticed his panic stricken face he quickly turned away. Don, my witty colleague, assured me as to the conjecture of this observation, and followed with a real classic. "Don’t feed the circus animal", he blurted out loud, referring to me as a type of freak show, and the two of us belly laughed so hard my numb right hand poured my entire latte across my pants, and nearly fell off the scooter! All day long as I drove past Don on the scooter we berated the situation with better and better slogans. "Welcome to the freak show", "who's the carnie", "look at the beast driving a scooter!" God it was funny as hell.
Even the healthiest of us have battles throughout the day. We all have our own stories, and as insidious as it may appear to the world, nobody seems to go unscathed. Humor can truly ease the situation. Learn to laugh at yourself a little. I need you all to do me this favor. The next time "running" to the store, "jumping" in to the shower, "grabbing" lunch for the kids, or even "preparing" for the day becomes in anyway a pain in your ass, it is necessary to perform one of two options. Either thank God profusely for the ability and fact you can actually perform and accomplish these tasks without trepidation or consciousness, or take my approach, get your head on straight, make a few jokes, and SLAY YOUR DRAGON! There are no other options.