4.12.2017

8 Things You Can Buy That Make MS Suck Less

Recently, a Multiple Sclerosis website asked me and some other MS bloggers, about the ‘one thing’ we can’t live without as world-class Trippers. Most said things like relationships, family, or - barf me to death - hope. Someone even said nature. Nature! Don’t get me wrong - I’m not slamming these bloggers (although I am raising an eyebrow at nature - where spiders live and winter comes from). No. These bloggers are better than me. These are obviously wholesome and decent people who have their priorities straight and their shit together. I, on the other hand, went with something from a store, because I'm shallow and materialistic and anyway, I can’t tell you to love your kids, but I can tell you what’s on sale at JCrew. 

As blogger after blessed blogger blah, blah, blah’d their devotion to raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, I was beginning to think I’d misunderstood the assignment. I feel like the website thought so too, because they put my contribution dead last. Probably in the hopes that people would have stopped reading by then. Thankfully, one kindred spirit in the comments section said ‘wine’ and I felt validated. 

But Mitch Sturgeon of Enjoying the Ride said something along the lines of never labeling anything you can’t live without because, as he had learned, MS is a thieving dick that will snatch away almost anything you love. 

I’m paraphrasing. 

Mitch listed his gratitude for his voice, which he uses to tell his wife he loves her (of course), after having lost all the function in his legs and much of the use of his arms and hands. 
Oh. 

He uses his voice to write his book and blog and to operate everything from lights and fans to the tv. Because we live in the future. I’m getting side-tracked here, but I was humbled into my own gratitude for that which remains, and for a moment my cold, black heart was warmed; the cynic in me, subdued.

When that strange feeling wore off, I started thinking about what valuable insights I could provide. Clearly, this crowd knows all about the importance of networks, of support systems, of dogs. Of all the things money can’t buy. Okay, technically money can buy a dog. And money definitely buys booze. But what else comes from a store and can make MS suck a little less?

Guys, none of this is sponsored. All opinions are my own. You hear that Netflix? You're getting yet another free ride.

Speedi-cath. That’s right. While the rest of the MS bloggers were talking about how much they love, and can’t live without, their wives, I pledged my allegiance to a tiny, plastic tube that helps me pee. And I stand by it. I love this product. This insanely expensive, thank-God-my-insurance-covers-it, desert-island-item number one, product. Because if you’re gonna drink, you’re gonna pee, and this little gem is the size of a mini-mascara. The kind you get for free when you buy too much makeup. (Also on my list - too much makeup.)

CleanseMore. While we’re talking toilets, let’s just get the scatological out of the way. It’s hard to talk about bladder problems, and even harder to talk about bowels, but if you’ve got MS, odds are yours is an asshole. I finally found a product that helps me keep things under control. The secret ingredient is magnesium hydroxide. And unicorn tears. Seriously, this stuff is magic. Remember, everyone’s different, so talk to your doctor. 

Align. This is the last poo-related promo. I promise. Align is a high quality, life altering probiotic. Please don’t ever go out of business, makers of Align.

My blender. The only appliance I use every damn day. Breakfast is always a nutritious, fibre-y smoothie because, if I miss it, I pay. I guess I wasn’t done talking about poo after all.  

A shoulder-strap bag. So my hands are free to hold my drink and/or break my fall when I trip on the curb. I got a beautiful one for my birthday from my Brooklyn Bestie, who now lives in Manhattan and I don’t even know what to call him now, but that’s another story. 

Optimus Prime. Shout out to blogger Jennifer Digmann who pledged her love to Grape Ape, her badass wheelchair. I baptized my own mobility aid Optimus Prime because, like a real life transformer he converts from a cool blue rollator to a transport chair. And he can destroy Decepticons.  

Heated Socks. Spring is here but that doesn’t mean I’m not still wrapped in a blanket, typing away through fingerless gloves. My brilliant, battery powered, heated socks are technically for skiers so you know they’re cool. 

Plans. To keep my mind from wandering into Worst Case Scenario day-mares, I try to always have things to look forward to in my calendar. Technically, this is more elusive than the promise I made that you can buy everything on this list. So I’ll qualify it by pointing out that what you can buy is an appropriate outfit for said plans. My xmas party is 8 months away and it’s already in the calendar. Save the date! 12.09.17.

So, what’s the best product you’ve found?


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4.04.2017

Let Me Pee In Your Powder Room: An Open Letter To Toronto Restaurant and Bar Owners

I love my city. Our city. I love our theatres, our comedy, our shopping. I love our big city lights and our big, bold sign. I love so much of what this town has to offer, but more than anything, I love our food game. From poutine to poke bowls, from dim-sum to designer donuts, Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world and our food culture reflects that. A boozy brunch with my girlfriends or a night on the town is part of what makes city life, well, city life. Going out has always been part of my lifestyle.

And, for a long time, I took it for granted. 

Until recently, it never occurred to me that something as simple as dinner and drinks might be on the endangered list; that the combination of multiple sclerosis and this city’s inaccessible spaces would make it anything but simple. MS and out-of-date design are threatening the world of going out that I love so much. Like most, I took reasonable access to public bathrooms for granted. 

Part of the charm of Toronto, and of many cities, is old-school architecture. But overwhelmingly, this means most bar and restaurant bathrooms are located in dungeons beneath steep, sketchy stairs. We’ve all agreed that a safe place to pee is a pretty basic human right; restaurants and bars are required to provide potties. I don’t want to bore you with like, the law, or anything, but these regulations only protect a portion of the population.

More than 10% of Canadians aged 15-64 have disabilities (Stats Canada 2012). It’s higher than 35% for persons over 65. That’s a freaking lot of people who have nowhere to pee in the mind-boggling majority of places. 

In Canada.

In 2017.


We don't say "I'm in the mood to pee".

We say "I HAVE to pee".

While I wait for society to catch up, I’ve been coming up with some work-arounds to keep me on the bar stool and out in the world. When I’m invited to the cool new gastro-pub in the latest hipster ‘hood, I call ahead or check the AccessNow app to determine whether or not the place has a main floor bathroom. It almost never does, which means it’s gonna be more of a kangaroo rat-kinda night.  

These bitches don't drink - ever. Look it up.

Kangaroo rat-nights mean skipping slushy pink cocktails and generous glasses of wine. Those are classic pee makers. Kangaroo rat-nights mean ordering saltines and hard liquor, because drinking whiskey by the ounce provides a pretty good buzz with none of the inconvenience of water. 

Whether we're talking about gender, race, or ability, bathroom access can be a yardstick of a society, reflective of who, and what, we value. Before MS struck, my fully-functioning-legs privilege let me live in ignorance of this problem. If we don’t speak up, businesses might wrongly assume that accessibility isn’t an unmet need. 

Look, I get it. First the gluten people, and now this. It can be tough to make everyone happy in the restaurant biz. But aside from it being the right thing to do, business owners have the opportunity to be leaders in the next big social justice movement. Nobody really likes stairs anyway. Even healthy people groan when they realize they have to walk down the stairs to pee, tipsy and in stilettos. 

Still not convinced? Consider this:

Branding: Accessible businesses have bragging rights. Being ethical and inclusive will earn you the respect and repeat business of customers of all abilities. 

Reputation: Toronto is respected for its diversity and inclusiveness, as is Canada. As a business owner you help create and maintain that reputation.

Money: Accessibility not only affects disabled persons, transgendered people, and parents of small children - it affects anyone who wants to hang out with them. Accessible businesses reach more people. More people means more money. Don’t you want more money?

The Law: Many upgrades can be done inexpensively, and will pay off in the long run. The deadline for compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is 2025, so be forward thinking and do it now, while it’s still cool, before that nagging B, the government, gets all up in your face.

Here's an adorable picture of me.
Don't you want to serve me a drink, and let me pee in your powder room?

There are accessibility barriers beyond bathroom access that haven't been dealt with here. But bathroom rights are a hot topic right now, so while we're thinking about it, debating it and legislating it, because we know how effing essential it is, we must remember to consider everyone. Disability is not a new phenomenon, and sadly, nor is over-looking this population. In an era of unprecedented social awareness, even unintentional obstacles that exclude persons with disabilities from reasonable participation, can feel like discrimination.

I know a well-curated cheese plate and artisanal beer-flight aren't going to fix my MS. But being able to participate in the social world around me is what makes life worth living. So, let’s make a deal - you provide inclusive facilities, and everyone I know will social media the hell out of your business. It’s time to invite everyone to the table and to la toilette. 

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