Thursday, August 25, 2011


Over the past several years MS has provided me with a unique ability, one which is shared by less than 10% of our population.
It has over a period of time transformed a right-handed individual into someone who has learned to utilize both hands individually or together in order to perform specific tasks.
Born a right-handed individual MS has made certain tasks difficult to perform using my right hand, for example I now shave with my right or do so utilizing my left hand, pretty cool wouldn't you say.   On the other hand "pun intended" it really doesn't appear to matter my contribution to the blood bank is probably the same no matter which hand I use.   The same goes for using utensils, while knives are now totally out of the question with either hand I am comfortable using a spoon or a fork.   Also get this, the amount of food on my trousers, sweater and floor are basically equivalent no matter which hand I use. Amazing isn't it?
Apparently a person who is ambidextrous utilizes both sides of their brain equally.
What can I deduce from all of this?

  • I now have the same number of MS  lesions on the right side as the left side of  my brain. No need for an MRI!
  • Both hands work as well as the other, "Like Crap" they are equal in their ability to screw up whatever task I attempt.
  • Ambidextrous just means you use both equally so I must qualify for this distinction
  • I've tried using various modified utensils like the  weighted ones with the same results from either hand.
  • Perhaps this Christmas  it will be time for me to ask for a fancy electric shaver.
Sometimes folks all you can do is laugh or at the very least attempt to find some humor out of all the frustrations we endure.
There are days that are better than others yet even the better days present their own unique challenges and sometimes gifts too.
Did I tell you I was ambidextrous!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A few personal tips on traveling

   What you deem accessible may be totally inappropriate for me.   Sounds simple, a no-brainer really yet selecting a vacation destination that meets your individual needs will require a fair bit of research.   We are far from being world travelers yet we have visited the Caribbean a number of times we've been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City.   Sometime in the future I wouldn't mind taking an Alaska cruise.

It is difficult to find a travel agency which include information regarding accessibility.     A few have tried yet there are so many variables depending on each individual's needs the task is certainly not as easy as one would imagine.   If you happen to see a wheelchair sign posted on a travel brochure it's best to ask and confirm what they mean by accessibility. Do your homework before leaving do not leave it in someone else's hands.

Prior to embarking on our first trip I described my requirement for an accessible resort. Our travel agent contacted the tour operator who confirmed the resort we were considering was in fact accessible.   I was fortunate to be at the travel agent when he called because his idea of accessibility was completely different from my own.   Grab bars installed here and there just wasn't good enough for me I needed to know a lot more.

On our first and second trip I could get around using a cane for short distances.   It was also possible for me to board the bus which would take us to our resort upon arrival        As the disease progressed so did the difficulty boarding buses, when it became impossible we found finding wheelchair accessible vehicles very difficult and in many cases basically nonexistent.

To obtain the information I required one of the best methods I found was to communicate with others in an attempt to zero in on the ideal resort.   Also important is to keep in mind these places are in a constant state of flux so it is a good idea to exchange information with someone who's been there recently.

With a simple search on Google you can locate thousands of travel sites, many of these will have places where people can post their reviews about the resort they visited.
To give you an idea take a look at Debbie's Dominican Republic Travel Page, it is specifically targeted for travel to the Dominican yet I have also read some information on resorts located in Mexico.   You can literally sit for hours reading everyone's opinion about the resorts.  I would copy and paste all the reviews into my word processor and then perform a search for some word identifying items of importance to me such as wheelchair, ramp, etc believe me it saved a lot of time.

Next on my list was a site named Webshots.   There are many other sites that offer webspace for people to upload their photos.   The greatest advantage with this is the opportunity to view the resort viewing pictures taken by tourists who have been there, not from the glossy brochure.  I found pools which had ramps for wheelchair access and pictures of rooms with wheelchair accessible showers.   Things you would be hard pressed to find on a travel brochure.

RIU Playacar Mexico 2002

Bottom-line is do your research before leaving, the last thing you want to find upon arrival is that "oh yes we are accessible there's only one little step!"   Or yes we have one room which is accessible it is being renovated right now, should be beautiful next week.

On a closing note CAA can probably provide you with  travel insurance you require even if you suffer from a pre-existing condition like MS .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We have time for our trip before I receive my chair!

I will take possession of my new wheelchair on October 19.  At first I didn't know how I would survive yet we adapt to practically everything and adapting to a new chair "my loaner" is no different.  No longer banging into walls or causing dents I am somewhat getting used to the beast.  That is not to say I'm not looking forward to my new one, only that I can live and survive until I receive my real chair.

In the meantime we are planning a trip, a week away sometime in the fall to one of our favorite cities Las Vegas!

There are other places to see yet I find this city one of the most accessible for people with mobility issues.  If you have traveled you know the definition of adapted rooms varies substantially from one location to another.

We  have stayed at world renowned hotel chains where reservations were made for a handicap accessible room only to arrive and find that none existed.  Others were so small once I entered with the wheelchair there was no place to move never mind trying to use the bath or shower.  I've had good experiences in Mexico in the Mayan Peninsula but the best I've seen to date is shown below.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How Were Our Kids Affected?

Early on we were blessed with two wonderful girls who in turn have recently given us two grandchildren to be proud of.

Years ago I posted a question on one of my websites. I wanted to know and understand what kind of impact MS had on our children? You hear so many opinions today it's difficult to know what is best, some people say be open and let them know as soon as you can as they will sense the change in the family dynamics no matter what.

My spouse and I decided to let them know within a few weeks of receiving my diagnosis. Dad's not going to die, there may be changes but nothing we couldn't handle. Still after informing them you can't help but wonder what they are actually thinking, how it really affects them.

Years later when I started my first website I recall asking this question, "how are kids affected."

Wouldn't you know it the first response received was from our oldest daughter and while many years have gone by I felt you may reading her response to my question.

You wonder what impact MS had on me and's really hard to explain cuz it's been so long. Honestly at first I think we didn't know much about it but we knew it was going to affect things. Looking back I think that we saw that you and mom had a lot to deal with together and we kind of stepped back a bit, and I think that we should have been more eager to be involved with how MS affected our family.

We would get really upset about the fact that OUR dad was sick, and we tried to treat you the same as if you were not with MS. I remember one time though we were at Wonderland and some young girl got in the way of your wheelchair and made a mean remark about watching where you were going, and to this day I wish I would have clocked her one. Lol.

Manon and I became really really close I think especially because of the fact that you have MS. I don't know anyone else who's dad has MS except hers ;), and I remember we were really young and we had serious talks about what we would do should anything happen to you or to mom, or if your relationship was very affected. I think it made us really independent and stubborn, which is a good thing. Your'e still the same dad as when I was little, I still look up to you and think you're the smartest and the strongest guy around.

When I think about the fact that you have MS now it is just a part of my life, it's a little bit different than other families but then everyone's got their stories. It's only in the last few years that I've come to realize that there is nothing that I can do about it, to make you specifically better, I mean, so to channel all that frustration I want to be more involved with the whole MS scene, which I regret not having done sooner. I've been talking to a man at the Barrie MS branch because I'd like to start volunteering. I feel terrible that I never got involved sooner, what was I thinking???

Unfortunately going back in time In order to do things differently is not permitted what's done is done we must make the best of our past experiences in the hopes that they will guide us in the future. What I meant buy this? As a parent I should have taken the initiative to enroll our family in a support group from the very start easing the journey for everyone involved.

Have a terrific weekend everyone.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Easter Seals

This week was difficult, I was trying to find a way to end it on a positive note when the following came to mind.

I do not believe I shared this with you previously, something positive among the mayhem of living with MS.

The application form is a PDF file which can probably be downloaded from if not I can send you the PDF form.

Send me a note at

I should mention this program only applies to Canadian citizens and will briefly explain the process.

Of course there is an application form, your doctor must also validate your disability. Once this is done I believe the cost is $20 in order to receive both cards, you can check on that just to be certain with Easter Seals.

The blue access 2 entertainment allows you to go to a participating partner, most large cinema complexes accept the card you pay for your attendant and your cost is nothing zero zilch. Pretty good deal and we have used it consistently

The travel card I have only used on two occasions and both were with VIA rail, although I suspect it would also be accepted by Greyhound. I can only provide you with an example of our experience both times we utilized VIA to go from Ottawa to Toronto return for my spouse and I. The cost if I remember correctly was approximately $140 all inclusive for both of us which includes the return trip. Perhaps I should also mention both trips were in first class!

The picture below is an example of the cards.

Have a great weekend.

 PS : You need not be wheelchair-bound in order to benefit from this program .


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Water Dam

This is a picture of the water dam I installed actually my spouse installed to prevent water from flooding our floor.

For the longest time we tried finding a solution.

Once we realized the industry referred to them as "Water Dam" it proved a cinch to find.  Just google water dam for wheelchair shower.  You'll see numerous styles from various distributors.   Ours cost approximately $100 the material was cut using a pair of scissors, it is collapsible so I can roll over it with my wheelchair without a problem .  Glued to the bottom of the shower with epoxy glue I must say it has never leaked since it's installation.

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