Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Weather Factor & Multiple Sclerosis

Sometimes I am even able to act like a tourist! ūüėČ

I am not able to speak for everyone with Multiple Sclerosis, but in my case, weather is a major contributor to relapses with my MS.  Not that cold is better than hot or hot better than cold or even the fluctuations of the drastic changes in temperature on Spring and Autumn days in the South.  There are days we run the air-conditioner in the day and heat is on at night.  These extremes and fluctuations where brutal to my MS symptoms.  

Now I am living in Medellin, Colombia, South America. ¬†Many ask why an American would leave the U.S. to live in Colombia? ¬†The simple answer – weather! ¬†The nickname for Medellin is The City of Eternal Spring. ¬†For someone with MS like me… the climate is ideal. ¬†With fewer days of really hot or really cold and the fluctuations of a mild Spring day back home (1.5 hours North of New Orleans), I notice fewer relapses while in Medellin. ¬†By no means does it mean they go away, but the severity of relapses is reduced as well as the frequency. ¬†Regardless¬†of climate, fatigue remains my chief adversary! ¬†Even here I fool myself into believing I am able to do more than I actually am capable of.

With a new place to live comes the obvious challenges like finding a place to live, learning a new neighborhood and making new friends.  Moving to a new country adds even more challenges like language and immigration issues.  Fortunately for me, Colombia actually has a special visa to encourage people to retire in Colombia Рa pensionado visa.  This visa is granted to anyone with a pension (Social Security is considered a pension).  Any Colombian Consulate or Embassy in the U.S. can give you the step by step process for getting this visa.  The downsides are: it is a government agency so understand going into it that foreign governments are as bureaucratic as ANY government and the visa needs to be renewed annually. This process is always subject to change especially and now more so because the Colombian Free Trade Agreement is being implemented with the United States of America (which MAY even simplify thing more Рcross my fingers).  I cannot (will not) discuss the political issues associated with the Free Trade Agreement until I learn and know more about it.

Making new friends in Colombia is EASY Рthey are a welcoming people!  But for me, there is the added obstacle to educate friends about how my MS affects me.  One main reason is because Multiple Sclerosis is much less common in South America in general versus North America.  Just as the climate seems to reduce my relapses and symptoms, it also reduces seems to reduce how the local population is affected.  The photo shows, the further south one goes, the fewer MS diagnoses.  Since there are fewer people diagnosed with MS, it is even more important to try to educate my friends how this illness affects me.  My experience has been overwhelmingly supportive!   Just like in the U.S.A., there are many misconceptions, but once I explain, most are understanding AND supportive.

Medellin may not be the best solution for ALL people with MS and I cannot even advocate

Maybe a benefit of a healthier lifestyle will be weight loss! ūüėÄ

ANY one else¬†would find it as¬†beneficial¬†as I do, but it could be an option for some. ¬†Medellin is now ranked the #1 city in Colombia (link below) “According to this year’s study, Medellin made massive improvements in several areas including environmental initiatives, where it jumped three places to rank fifth. In human capital rankings, which consider health, education and employment opportunities, Medellin came in second place, moving up one spot. “We will strengthen(…) the goal of furthering the education and training of our human talent to achieve equity and remove inequalities,” assured Medellin’s Mayor¬†Anibal Gaviria.” ¬†I always mention Colombia’s tourism¬†campaign¬†slogan Colombia: the only risk is wanting to stay and my slogan for Colombia would be: Colombia: it is not what you think… it is so much MORE (maybe I should trademark that? lol)!

*I am not a medical expert of any kind and this article only reflects my personal opinions and experiences! 

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Viva Colombia

I am often asked why I like Colombia, South America so much. ¬†My response is, “Colombia and I share something – we are both misunderstood and quite often misrepresented!” ¬†I am quite happy when people realize that in spite of my progressive politics, unique views about religion, and gay activism – I am still quite a nice guy. ¬†The same is true of Colombia – in spite of the¬†exaggerations of Colombian life portrayed in Hollywood movies,¬†Colombia is quite a nice country! ¬†Seeing beyond stereotypes opens the mind to so many new possibilities! ¬†Also please notice… the country Colombia is spelled with an “o” not an “u” (Columbia).

Like me, Colombia is much more progressive than many realize – sorry, I mean Colombia is more progressive… anyone that reads my blog already knows I am Progressive! ¬† ¬†Colombia’s government is a Republic with Democratic elections and three branches of government including Executive, Legislative and Judicial (that should sound familiar to Americans). ¬†The FARC have basically been neutered¬†and the days of drug cartels¬†controlling¬†the country are now mythology. ¬†The drug lords, guerrillas, and kidnappings are great for the movies, but not a part of the typical Colombians daily life.¬†¬†

I have lived in both of Colombia’s largest cities, Bogota and Medellin. ¬†My opinion is that Bogota is more of a

Medellin, Colombia, South America

metropolitan lifestyle similar to living in New York or San Francisco and Medellin a little more like living in Los Angeles with San Diego weather. ¬†Bogota has the larger population with just over 8 million to Medellin’s 3.75 million. ¬†Medellin’s climate is more ideal with a very pleasant 65 – 80 degrees¬†Fahrenheit¬†(18 – 27¬†Celsius)¬†¬†year round, compared to the cooler climate of Bogota ranging from 50-75 Fahrenheit (10 – 24 Celsius). ¬†I have great friends in both cities but I feel the weather in Medellin is more¬†conducive¬†for Multiple Sclerosis, so now Medellin is home!

Colombia’s tourism campaign is: “Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay”. ¬†This proved to be very true for me! ¬†With an American Passport, 60 day tourist visits and there are other options for longer stays. ¬†I wanted to stay longer and found the way for me to get a resident visa called a pensionado visa ( basically a¬†retiree’s visa to encourage people to retire in Colombia)¬†. ¬†I do have to renew my visa annually, but that is ok with me. ¬†Colombia could be an¬†option¬†for many more, especially for the benefits of the climate for people with illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis. ¬†I invite people outside Colombia to come experience the reality of this beautiful country with beautiful, warm, welcoming people and forget what television and movies portray about Colombia! ¬†This is a country you should experience for yourself!

*** I will be posting weekly (maybe more) about life in Colombia – follow this blog and let’s share the experiences of this wonderful culture!

Categories: Bogota, Colombia, Life, Medellin, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

OUR President

I had to post this because I almost forgot what a REAL President and First Lady look like….

The photo to the left is a post I recently saw on facebook! ¬†I shot off this post on facebook as my status, “I saw a post earlier today that was a photo of FORMER President George W. and Laura Bush with a caption that read, “I had to post this because I almost forgot what a REAL President and First Lady look like….”! How DISRESPECTFUL! I am sorry America… but PRESIDENT Barack Obama and FIRST LADY Michelle Obama are REAL and he is PRESIDENT! Even if you do not agree with their divisive politics that help the poor have insurance and teach children about nutrition and exercise… at least have respect that they ARE the PRESIDENT and First Lady of the United States of America!! Even when the person you did not vote for wins….he (or she) is still winner and comments like above just show you are a SORE LOSER!” ¬†

I was ashamed and embarrassed for the person that posted it for so freely being disrespectful to OUR current President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama!  True, not all Americans love the current President and some may even miss FORMER President George W. and Laura Bush.  But for someone to infer that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are not REAL and deserving of our respect is a VERY SAD commentary of discourse in America.  To disagree with the politics of the President is completely normal if you have differing views, but the growing acceptance to disrespect the office of President is alarming to me.

I did not want to mention it in the very first paragraph, but now I am one sentence into my third paragraph I will say it – I think it may, in part, be because he is black! ¬†But now I said it I will not dwell on it, but it does deserve mentioning. ¬†I find ANY white woman pointing in the face of a black man to appear racist to me. ¬†To see a sitting¬†governor do it to a sitting President! ¬†WOW! ¬†I am not so¬†naive¬†as to think Obama is the first President to be disrespected, but to mention race one more time…. as a society, maybe this is a good place to start toning down the hatred, rhetoric, hyperbole – even if it is so we do not appear to be racist. ¬†Political discourse will ALWAYS be a part of politics, but it is possible to disagree without being so¬†blatantly¬†RUDE! ¬†

The following is a reply I recieved about my post, “We’ll just have to ‘Agree to Disagree’ on your post. Obama is NOT my president, and Michele will never be my ‘First Lady’. Disrespectful or not, what is disrespectful, in my opinion, is how fast Obama’s administration has managed to degrade and destroy what has taken millions of working-class families decades to accumulate. Perpetuating the ‘handout mentality’ of low and poverty-level Americans is like ‘keeping them in chains’, they might as well call it ‘Slavery’.” ¬†All I could say to myself was WHAT THE FUCK? ¬†I want to respect her opinion, but I am at a complete loss to know what she THINKS Obama has done? ¬†It is¬†rhetoric¬†that has NO fact to support it!

Yes… we (she and I) DO have to agree to disagree! I in NO way have seen him perpetuate ANY such policy – namely because Congress has done NOTHING to support ANY of his polices since ObamaCare. ¬†Even ObamaCare is not so much about entitlement for the poor (the poor already had Medicaid) but for people like me with pre-existing conditions like Multiple Sclerosis! I had no health insurance for 2

Our President is ALSO a loving husband and father!

years and so YES, I supported ObamaCare… because now I have insurance and I am getting treatment again. But I feel conservatives only see he is a Democrat and does not understand that ObamaCare was built on Republican Bob Dole’s health plan that was the basis for Romney as a Republican Governor to also use. ¬†Even in an effort to gain¬†bipartisan support, they tried to demonize the program that in Romney’s own suggested alternative (as¬†Presidential¬†candidate) to his own plan established in¬†Massachusetts wants to keep the KEY provisions of ObamaCare!¬†They FIGHT it just because it is a Democrat’s plan. ¬†But even as a Democrat… I never said or acted as if Bush were not MY President, because at the end of the day we are all still Americans and that even includes President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama! ¬†As all past Presidents, I feel they have represented America with ALL the best intentions that what they did (do) was (is) good for our country! ¬†I feel both the President and First Lady have¬†represented¬†America very well, with grace, poise and ¬†dignity – they are a GREAT First Family!

Repeating LIES does not = Truth!

I have a¬†disdain¬†for A LOT of the Tea Party’s divisive politics and how they feel cooperation and compromise are an evil part of politics. ¬†Even

Hyperbole is BAD for the Nation and BAD for your soul!!

as a CHILD I was taught to share and play nice with others! ¬†A concept that escapes most Tea Party idealist. ¬†The Tea Partiers seem to ALWAYS go back to our “Christian” fore-fathers as their point of reference. ¬†They want to legislate their¬†Christian¬†beliefs in a nation founded on Christianity¬†– NOT FREEDOM! ¬†The founders of our nation left England because the KING was basically “legislating” his idea of Christian beliefs . ¬†The founders intentionally left religion out of our constitution because they knew religion and government were¬†separate¬†entities. ¬†As a gay man in America, I am astonished at the idea that Christians (not all… but A LOT) in some way feel that if I am given equal rights and benefits of marriage, it in some way ¬†effects their marriage. ¬†They feel they have a responsibility to remove freedom in our nation and¬†enact¬†laws based on their beliefs.

MY Presidents!

Bush was MY President, Obama is MY president and even if Romney wins he will be MY President, because I am proud to be an AMERICAN more so than a Democrat (or even a Republican as I was most of my life)! People need to unite, love, support and encourage each other – not say things like Obama is NOT MY President… unless you have left the USA and surrendered¬†¬†your Passport & citizenship- He is YOUR President…. just maybe not who you voted for!¬†

Categories: Political | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MS Monday

I will die WITH Multiple Sclerosis, not FROM Multiple Sclerosis!  This has been an epigram by which I have lived since being diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in March 2000.  There are very few people in my life that KNOW the true effect this illness has had on my life and how I am able to live it.  I was a double major at Ole Miss (The University of Mississippi for international readers) studying Marketing and Real Estate.  I took the Brokers exam immediately after graduating, but not one day did my Real Estate Brokers License get put to use.  But the aspects of Marketing have followed me in every area of my life Рand life with MS being one.

How do I use Marketing in relation to my MS you may ask?  Mainly, I TRY to present the best face!  Most people, other than my family have never seen the amount of TRUE down-time I have as a result of my MS.  They only see me when I am feeling good or decent anyway.  With Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis what happens is just as it sounds.  I have relapses and I have remissions.  This is not completely true in that one symptom has been CONSTANT for me for more than 5 years now.  The numbness someone feels in their leg when it goes to sleep, I have had the nonstop for more than 5 years In all of my right leg and from the knee down in my left leg.  This symptom sometimes becomes more severe and causes me to fall, trip, and limp.  These are the days few people see me.

My legs show the constant battle scares with the wars of the simple effort of walking. ¬†MS also sometimes causes me dizziness, so add that to numb legs and sometimes just getting from the bed to the bathroom without falling takes effort! ¬†Another of the most common symptoms is fatigue. ¬†Fatigued, dizzy, combined with numb legs can create DAYS of anti-social behavior and hours of sleep even most teenagers fail to accomplish on any give free weekend. ¬†The use of a cane is sometimes needed even inside the house, so when this trifecta of¬†symptoms¬†hits, I become a hermit. ¬†When traveling, I general need the use of my cane just because the act of keeping a schedule, carrying luggage and the stress related to travel (thanks TSA – it is very easy for me to take off my shoes and but them back on with a line of people breathing heavy and muttering “HURRY UP!) ¬†The photos represent marks from just the last month of “walking” or attempting to walk!

Also as the name implies, there are MULTIPLE symptoms during relapses usually.  I am familiar with most of the symptoms listed on the photo above at one point or another.  When one symptom passes another comes it seems.  But the beauty is I can market the pain as less painful than the reality or I smile even when it takes all I have to just not scream!  Since the relapses change and each person with the disease have different symptoms, MS is frequently called a designer disease.  This makes marketing my illness easy because as in this blog, I can only speak for myself and how MS affects my life!  Anyone that knows me knows I am a shameless self promoter! lol

There are few photos (if any) of me with or using my cane. ¬†The one I use is kind of a¬†combination¬†of a crutch with a cane. It is not that I am ashamed of NEEDING walking assistance, but I am able to “market” myself as healthy and happy like most people like and want to see. ¬†Simple activities take more from me and takes me more time to recoup from doing them. ¬†Friends know I do not go out much any more because not only do I have to have the energy and ability to go, I pay for it usually having fatigue from a night out – even if I do not drink a thing! ¬†Any friend that has had a “night out” with me… please see that as evidence you are worth the extra effort. ¬†For those I have said no to, understand it is not you… most times it is just my body does not cooperate. ¬†Most likely I used a different excuse than my MS, because actually – I like when people FORGET I have it… I WOULD LIKE To FORGET MYSELF! ¬†But my body reminds me too often!

Facebook is a haven for me to post photos from times I am feeling good and that I actually do get out and do something fun.  I even at times market

Car shopping in Medellin

myself too well, with people thinking my MS presents little or few challenges in my life. ¬†My idea is I better do it (whatever it may be) while I am feeling ok because the¬†moment¬†I am ABLE to do “it” may pass. ¬†There are things I am willing to share in my blog that I do not share with REAL people in my life, because the people “in” my life, I am afraid of them feeling pity,¬†sympathy¬†or sorry for me. ¬†Breaking¬†precedence, look here…a photo of me WITH my cane (I have named it Pablo and the story why will come later)! If you are someone “in” my life and this blog reveals new information to you… you have fallen victim to my marketing and as I have learned from experience – I am damn good at marketing, especially marketing myself! ¬†

I will post about my life with MS weekly (I hope)… follow my blog and feel free to donate! ūüėČ

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Vacation Is Ending!!

It has been almost 4 months since I have posted ANYTHING of substance! ¬†I know so few even noticed my absence! ¬†But during this break, a passion has been awakened, a purpose; I will try using my blog to share these insights and hopefully educate and inspire the world! ¬†Ok… I may not change the world or even change anything with my little ole blog – but it will not be because I did not try.

I use a lot of “!” (exclamation points) when I write! ¬†I began investigating the “!” and its use a little; it became like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland! ¬†lol ¬†The exclamation point the sign (!) used in writing after an exclamation. ¬†Exclamation is the act of exclaiming; out cry; loud complaint or protest. ¬†Interjection is the utterance of a word or phrase expressive of emotion; the muttering of an¬†exclamation. ¬†To exclaim is to cry out; say loudly; or vehemently. ¬†Vehement is strongly emotional; intensive or passionate. ¬†To sum this round of¬†definitions¬†the exclamation point – this mark is sometimes used two or more times in succession (!!, !!!) to indicate intensity of emotion, loudness, etc. ¬†NOW.. anyone who has talked with me knows I am loud and expressive and the “!” helps me be loud and expressive when writing!

So now I have a renewed PASSION to write… expect the over use of the “!” and look for more frequent posts! ¬†There may also be an¬†occasional¬†“lol” or ūüėÄ (emoticon)! ¬†ūüėČ ¬†I hope anyone that reads this blog will find it entertaining and mybe even a little informative! ¬†¬†

Categories: Life | 3 Comments

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