What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast

My name is John, I’m 39 years old, husband and father of two, small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster, and I have multiple sclerosis. I made this podcast to share what I’m going through.

Episodes:

Assembly

Welcome to the What’s the Matter With Me? Podcast, Season 3, Episode 4, Mobility Assistance, in which we go on a trip to Sacramento where I finally admit to myself that I need a scooter, plus fictional characters with MS. I made some new tunes and more. Stay tuned. Check it out.

My name is John. I’m 39 years old, husband, and father of two, small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster, and I have multiple sclerosis, so I made this podcast to share what I’m going through.

What’s the Matter With Me? is an MS podcast, and it’s also about other things. Past episodes can be downloaded on Apple Podcasts, from WhatsTheMatterWithMe.org, or wherever you get it.

I’m not a medical professional. Don’t take this for medical advice. If you need medical advice, ask your healthcare provider.

Shout outs: first of all, come on. What’s up? I’m nothing without a shout out. I’m a shout out machine. You put a quarter in me, I’m just like, “Shout out, shout out, shout out.” Shout outs to Patrick, and shout outs to Emma. Give me an email– Contact me on the– Give Me An Email using the contact form, and I’ll give you a shout out.

All right, recap. Recap, recapitulate, recapture and wreak havoc. Last episode, I’ve received my MS medicine by infusion. There was a reiki lady. She gave me reiki, and check it out: Season 3, Episode 3, Infusion. It’s up on WhatsTheMatterWithMe.org.

I went to Sacramento and horned in on my cousin’s life for four days. I dominated his house and mind, I’m sure. I have profound apologies, but now that I have MS, I’m working up to a trek. I can’t really travel, you know, so I’m working up to it. I want to go to the Monolithic Rock churches of Ethiopia, and I want to feed raw meat to hyenas on the end of a stick. But for right now, I go to Sacramento. It’s just two or three hours away by car. I do a lot of weird stuff. In addition to invading my cousin’s life, I visited the capitol building. I met with my assembly member, Ash Kalra, representing the 27th California Assembly District, where we live here in San Jose. We sat in his office with John John and Koko, and I like to do this where … I’m not really into politics or any … But I like to show kids things. I wanted to show them that politics is a real thing, and the government is real. Real people are involved. It was cool.

So we went in to his office, Ash Kalra’s office, and we took a picture with him. We talked with the kids about where they went to school. He was cool, and I was glad to show that to the kids. The capitol building politics is as strange as you think it is. It’s very strange. Hopefully the kids picked up on that, and they won’t become politicians, hopefully. But you know, it’s probably the other way … Everything goes wrong when you’re a parent.

We ate at Frank Fats, a Chinese restaurant, an old Chinese restaurant, in Sacramento, but it’s like a political, rubbing shoulders kind of restaurant nowadays. You can get an awesome martini, and fried wontons, weird stuff.

We ate also at Juno’s Kitchen and Deli. It’s like a casual deli, but they bake the bread in the house, and it’s kind of more refined than you expect it to be. But it’s good for the family, and it’s cool. We go there. It feels like a gem, kind of thing. They like Hoppin Hot Sauce there, and they have the bottle. So when I walked in there, they were like, “John!” You know, and I was like, “Yeah, I’m on the bottle,” you know what I mean? My name is known. Juno’s, Juno’s Café and Deli, check it out in Sacramento.

The tourist area of Sacramento has the worst name. It’s called Old Sac. I mean, for real. The central tourist area, they’re like, “Welcome to Old Sac.” You call up your friends. You’re like, “Hey, guys, let’s go hang out in Old Sac.”

McKinley Park is like this giant green space park with a duck pond in the middle, and a kids playground, a really big one. Kids wanted to go there every day. We went to Sutter’s Fort. Went to the Crocker Art Museum. It’s a cool, modern museum built around an 1870s mansion, and it has a big collection of plates, African headrests, and California works on paper, old pictures, ceramics. It’s like a mix of things. The mix of architecture with this mansion, 1870s, big mansion, beautiful flooring, parquet floors, other kinds of floor. It’s pretty amazing. And then a modern museum kind of built around it. But I had mobility issues.

After I walk for like half an hour, it starts to get hard to walk, and the pressure exerted by my AFO leg brace on my ankle and the top of my foot is too much after a while. It’s carbon fiber on bone, and eventually I can barely walk. I realize my AFO allows me to walk, but I can’t go take a walk. So I’m like hobbling through the 19th century mansion in pain, and I’m unable to move my eyes from the floor, or I’ll risk falling. And I decide, that’s when I finally capitulated. I’m like, “I’m getting a scooter.” And I told Nami, and of course, she’s very supportive.

A few years ago, I saw a rehab therapist who advised me to get a folding, portable scooter. She asked me, “Imagine a party at the end of a long path, far from the car.” Did I want to spend my energy on the path, getting there, or at the party itself? It was kind of like an easy question, but I was afraid of the answer. And I said to myself, like, “Oh, I’ll be fine. I can make it.” But I’ve gone to enough events with Hoppin Hot Sauce, or family events, school events, had enough trouble maneuvering, almost falling over, endless treks through 19th century manors. It’s true. My brace helps me walk, but not to go on a walk.

Like the AFO before it, the scooter is a choice born out of necessity that effects my appearance to the outside world, and it requires me to let go of a bit of vanity, not by my own choice. And just to write that out, to say this feels healthy. It feels good, and valuable to accept reality. Acceptance, move onward.

What about the way characters with multiple sclerosis are represented in the culture? I’ve been reading this book. I’ve been reading 2666 by Roberto Bolano. It’s a novel I selected. I picked it out because his earlier book, The Savage Detectives, was compared to Jack Kerouac, and as a kid, I always loved that. And that’s the reason why I didn’t read Savage Detectives. I was like, “I’m not going to read that. It’s kids stuff. I used to like Jack Kerouac when I was a kid, kid stuff.” But then I saw this huge book in the bookstore, 2666, at the used bookstore. And it was in good condition, hardcover, so I was like, “I’ve got to get that.” It was a good price, and I was like, “That guy was the guy who was compared to Jack Kerouac.”

Now, there’s this huge book. He’s a Chilean guy, died in 2003 at the age of 50. At the bookstore, I skimmed a few pages, and it was like one of these manifold themed books unfolding all different kind of writing. It was like Borges and Murakami. It was like a serious novel. It was a big and powerful book, with lots of different interesting stuff inside, revolving around an elusive, fictitious, elusive German author, and an unsolved and ongoing murders of women in Santa Teresa in Mexico, based on Ciudad Juarez. And I was like, “This is cool. This is weird and cool.”

In the book, a group of scholars are searching for this German author, and one of them has MS, and he’s in a wheelchair. And he goes on a trip to London from Turin. And it just says, “He had to rest after.” And I was like, “Oh, it’s fatigue. He has MS fatigue.” And so it’s like depictions of MS always interest me. I hop all over them, and read into them, and interpret them, and I’m hoping MS will get the same nuanced treatment as everything else in the book, with the same level of almost crazy care.

Here, I’m going to read another bit, where the character with MS decides not to go to Mexico.

“At the last minute, Morini decided not to travel. His ill health, he said, made it impossible. Marcel Schwob, whose health was equally fragile, had set off in 1901 on a more difficult trip to visit Stevenson’s grave on an island in the Pacific. Schwob’s trip lasted many days, first on La Ville de la Ciotat, then on the Polynesien, then on the Manapouri.

“In January 1902, he fell ill with pneumonia, and nearly died. Schwob was traveling with his Chinese manservant, Ting, who got seasick at the drop of a hat. Or maybe he got seasick only if the sea was rough. In any case, the trip was plagued by rough seas and seasickness. At one point, Schwob in bed in his stateroom, and convinced he was on the verge of death, felt someone lie down beside him. When he turned to see who the intruder was, he discovered his Oriental servant, his skin as green as grass. Only then did he realize what kind of venture he had embarked on.

“When he got to Samoa after many hardships, he didn’t visit Stevenson’s grave, partly because he was too sick, and partly because what’s the point of visiting the grave of someone who hasn’t died, Stevenson, and Schwob owed this simple revelation to his trip, lived inside him.

“Morini, who admired Schwob, or more precisely, felt a great fondness for him, thought at first that his trip to Senora could be a kind of lesser homage to the French writer, and also to the English writer whose grave the French writer had gone to visit. But when he got back to Turin, he saw that travel was beyond him, so he called his friends and lied, saying that the doctor had strictly forbidden anything of the kind. Pelletier and Espinoza accepted his explanation, and promised they would call regularly to keep him posted on the search they were undertaking, the definitive search this time.

“Norton felt somehow insulted by Morini’s decision not to go with them. They didn’t call each other again. Morini might have called Norton, but before his friends set off in their search for Archimboldi, he in his own way, like Schwob in Samoa, had already begun a voyage, a voyage that would end, not at the grave of a brave man, but in a kind of resignation, what might be called a new experience, since this wasn’t resignation in any ordinary sense of the world, or even patience, or conformity. But rather, a state of meekness, a refined and incomprehensible humility that made him cry for no reason, and in which his own image, what Morini saw as Morini, gradually and helplessly dissolved, like a river that stops being a river, or a tree that burns on the horizon, not knowing that it’s burning.”

Something cool about that, I like that, “A tree on the horizon on fire that doesn’t know that it’s burning.” That’s kind of how it is, a meek, dissolution, MS. I think there’s something … This guy is a perceptive author. There is something he knows, pretty cool.

There’s new music. I made new music. It’s pretty strange. I make it all with my left hand, because of my right hand doesn’t work. It’s kind of this weird, synthetic jazz process. So there’s a new tune called Suda. You can hear it, Soundcloud.com/john-hoppin.

Thanks for listening to Season 3, Episode 4 of the What’s the Matter With Me? podcast, Mobility Assistance. Find other episodes at Apple Podcasts, WhatstheMatterWithMe.org, or wherever you get your podcasts. The worldwide universal sponsor, Hoppin Hot Sauce, is a movement.

“Hoppin Hot Sauce, it’s the best hot sauce! Hoppin Hot Sauce, it’s the best sauce in the world!”

Hoppin Hot Sauce is a movement. Get with it, HoppinHotSauce.com.

Thank you for listening to the What’s the Matter With Me? podcast, Season 3, Episode 4, Mobility Assistance, in the books.

chairs

In this episode we’ll go through getting an infusion

infusion noun
the slow injection of a substance into a vein or tissue.

Google Dictionary

I was due for my Rituxan infusion, my primary multiple sclerosis (MS) medication, on January 4th.  I called a week ahead. I needed to get bloodwork at a lab and approval from the insurance company.  The bloodwork was no problem but the approvals were difficult. I had to be persistent. Before I knew it, I was already a month and a half late.

I worried that I wasnt getting the medication i needed.  I fell a few times. I was living in a fog.

I had the infusion yesterday.  I feel about the same.

Transcript


JOHN HOPPIN: Welcome to the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast, season three, episode three, Infusion.

My name is John. I’m 39-years old, husband, and father of two. Small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster, and I have multiple sclerosis, so I made this podcast to share what I’m going through.

What’s The Matter With Me? is an MS podcast, and it’s also about other things. Past episodes can be downloaded on Apple Podcast, from Whatsthematterwithme.org, or wherever you get it.

I’m not a medical professional. Don’t take this for medical advice. If you need medical advice, ask your healthcare provider.

All right. Season three, episode three. In this episode, we’ll go through getting an infusion, getting medication by infusion. Let me check this out. What’s it say? Infusion is a medicinal term. The slow injection of a substance into a vein or tissue. So, that happened to me the other day. We’ll talk about it, but first, I’ve got to give shout outs.

Shout outs to Rocky. Always to Rocky like I said I would. And shout outs to [Nomi 00:02:00] for going to MS Breakthroughs with me. I bet it was weird. And to Eric and Tracy for letting us invade their house. We went to Sacramento last week. You’ll hear about it in an upcoming episode, so stay tuned.

Infusion. Okay. I was due for, I take Rituxan. It’s my primary MS medication. I take it by infusion, and I was due for it on January 4th. I called about a week ahead, and I had to get blood work at the lab, and approval from the insurance company. Blood work is no problem. You just head down to the lab, they draw your blood, whatever. Chop chop. All done. But the approval was difficult, and I had to be persistent, and before I knew it, I was a month and a half late.

You know, I’m supposed to have this every six months. You know. I was going to have the infusion here. Maybe there. But the bottom line is, I’m late now. I’m starting to worry. You know? And be like, yo, I’m supposed to have this thing every six months, now, it’s seven months. I’m worried about I wasn’t getting the medication I needed. I fell a few times. I had fog, like in my brain, in the afternoon. I couldn’t think of anything. Or in the morning, or really, at any time. I had no energy. I felt like I was totally fogged up. And I’m like, “Is it because my medication is late?” You know. It’s impossible to tell.

But finally, yesterday, I had Rituxan. My wife drove me. It’s in Palo Alto, so it takes like 40 minutes, 45, to get there in the morning. My wife drove me there. She worked remotely from the room where I was getting infused.

It’s a long one. You’re hooked up to the IV machine for over four hours. They give you precursors. I’ll tell you about it. It’s kind of crazy. It’s similar to traveling in that you’re just inactive, but totally drained afterward.

I sat in a big chair. They gave me steroids and Benadryl for the precursor. That’s to reduce chances of infection. They give you all this stuff, but the effect from my end is, like, I’m all pumped up, and also, I got knocked out. So you feel this oncoming rush of steroids. You fill like you can chew through the table in front of you, but then the air gets all thick and gooey. Things get weird, and the medicines like fight each other. It’s a really odd feeling.

It feels cold in your vein. You can feel it at the injection site. They’re pumping you full of this stuff, especially the precursors where they just kind of inject the whole thing at once. Infusion is kind of a slow process, but when they start it off, they give you these big vials of Benadryl and Solu-Medrol, and it makes it cold in your arm. You can feel it. Cold in my veins.

The nurse put an instant heat pack over the IV, and it was warm, and it felt good. I had seen her before. She was from Honduras. She had nice braids. They were kind of intricately woven, but kind of sculptural in the way they piled on top of her head.

I was hooked up to the bag dangling from the infusion pump to go for about four hours. My wife worked from a small chair with one of the bedside tables pulled up as a desk. She had her earphones in. She was on a call across from me, and I kind of fell asleep, I guess.

I woke up at some point. It was the afternoon, a few hours later. My wife had picked up some food from a stir fry place, some meat, vegetable and pickles over rice with garnishes like caramelized onions and sliced hot peppers.

The nurse came in every few minutes to check my blood pressure and temperature, or to check the infusion machine was still dripping, chugging along.

A volunteer reiki master appeared, and she asked me if I wanted a reiki session. I was scared, but I also thought it could be awesome. So I put down my food and my phone. She said, “You don’t have to.” And I was like, “No. Forget it. I’ll put this stuff down. Let’s focus on this.” She came behind me and moved her hands lightly over my shoulders, my head, and to my shoulders again. It was very relaxing and made a welcome contrast to the circumstances.

Usually, I’m pretty skeptical about things like that, but I’ll try to be more open-minded in the future or, at least, that’s what I was like, “Should I get this?” I should try and be more open-minded. It was pretty good.

The nurse came by again to check on the IV line a few times. Finally, she told me I was getting close. Nomi was down the hall interviewing someone. She does crazy work. She could do anything anywhere, I think. The nurse removed the IV and wrapped my arm in a purple bandage. I was ready to go.

Nomi came back. “Arrivederci,” I said to nobody in particular. We drove home to San Jose. Took about an hour from Stanford, Palo Alto. We finished up at rush hour time. I was glad to have Nomi with me for all the help and support, driving me back home. It was amazing. The whole process is taxing. It can be hard driving around, and to have some support is really valuable.

So that’s it. I really got hooked up to this machine. They infused me for a long time. So, that’s kind of it. I want to tell you how it goes. You’re kind of like pumped up. They give you lots of drugs. It’s weird. You pass out. You wake up. Then it takes forever, and then you feel drained at the end. That’s infusion.

So, thanks for listening to season three, episode three of the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast. Find other episodes at whatsthematteriwthme.org, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Check out more of this cool music that I make on soundcloud.com/john-hoppin. J-O-H-N dash H-O-P-P-I-N. The worldwide universal sponsor Hoppin Hot Sauce, it’s a movement. Makes every plate taste great.

Hoppin Hot Sauce. It’s the best hot sauce. Hoppin Hot Sauce. It’s the best sauce in the world. The world, I’m telling you.

Check it out. Hoppinhotsauce.com.

Season three, episode three in the books. Thank you for listening to the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast.

Garden

Scene Report: MS Breakthroughs

Over the weekend, I attended the MS Breakthroughs event put on by the National MS Society. The keynote speaker was Jeffrey Dunn, director of the Stanford MS Center. The event promised to inform about the current-day MS Breakthroughs as well as the future of MS Research.

It began with a free breakfast. The guy next to me dug in. I’d already eaten. I heard the danishes were good.

Award Ceremony

Someone who raised $250,00, another raised $100,000 & wrote pieces of legislation.. a team of 4 people raised $1.1m. A cool guy who runs a lot of local support groups received an award.

Alameda

Volunteer of the year came from Alameda. I used to work in Alameda supervising down’s syndrome adults at their jobs collecting carts for the supermarket.
You can’t drive 26 in Alameda without the authorities checking you out! It’s locked down tight in Alameda.

Grouping and Splitting

Dr. Dunn started off with some history of the MS Society, and its important role fostering collaboration, explaining the scientific paradigm of grouping and splitting.

Things start far apart and come together, collaborate, and become normalized, then specialization occurs. Repeat process forever.

Biology is complicated

Biology is complicated – the result of complex processes comprised of many interacting components. Why things happen is often unclear.

We need a map

In MS, the immune system attacks the brain. There are at least a few thousand pathways in the immune system – there’s no map. Dunn thinks we need one, because identifying the specific immune pathways driving disease can enable individually tailored treatment

Immune Hypertension

Dr. Dunn suggested that Multiple Sclerosis is an endstage name, like referring to a “stove fire” as a “burned down house”. He said a better name might be immune hypertension.

Thanks for listening

To the Whats The Matter With Me? Podcast
Other episodes at whatsthematterwithme.org, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts..
Check out more of my music on soundcloud.com
Hoppin Hot Sauce is a movement!
(Hoppin hot sauce theme)
Season 3 episode 2 in the books! Thanks for listening to the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast.

Transcript

JOHN HOPPIN: Welcome to What’s The Matter With Me, Season Three, Episode Two, Scene Report: MS Breakthroughs. My name is John. I’m 39 years old, husband and father of two, small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster. And I have multiple sclerosis, so I made this podcast to share what I’m going through.

What’s The Matter With Me is an MS podcast, and it’s also about other things. Past episodes available for download on Whatsthematterwithme.org, iTunes, and wherever you get it. I’m not a medical professional, and you should not take this for medical advice. If you need medical advice, ask your healthcare provider.

In this episode, we’ll talk about the MS Breakthroughs conference. But first, last episode recap. Something happened at Bill’s Café, and I stepped in a hole, and I was on the radio. Check it out, surf on over to Whatsthematterwithme.org to get the last episode. It’s that time, shout outs to Rocky, always to Rocky. Shout outs.

Over the weekend my wife and I attended the MS Breakthroughs conference put on by the National MS Society. It was at a hotel in San Jose. Jeffrey Dunn, the Director of the Stanford MS Center, was the keynote speaker. The event promised to inform us all about the future of MS treatment. It started with free breakfast. I didn’t get the memo or something, I didn’t realize it was free breakfast. You know when you walk in a room and there’s a bunch of free breakfast, and you’ve just eaten breakfast, and you’re kind of like, “Dang …”

So I sat down at my table. My wife came with me. I sat next to Peter, a Canadian entrepreneur. His current venture involves coaching business people how to work across cultures. And he told me the danishes were good. I didn’t have one, but I admired, from one entrepreneur to another, I admired his gusto for free breakfast.

The Director of the National MS Society spoke, kind of singling out the organization. It was cool, we’ll talk a little bit more about that. But one thing she dropped on us, there was a recent study that came out, and it turns out Americans with MS number over one million, which is over twice the previously reported number. I thought that was kind of interesting.

Okay, so before the keynote address my Dr. Dunn, they had an award ceremony. I guess I don’t read things or pay attention or something, I just had no idea. So all these people are up there. They had research fundraisers, people raising money for the MS Society. Some people raised $250,000. One guy did $100,000 and wrote five pieces of legislation, and went to Sacramento and got three of them in with the representative somehow. I mean, this is crazy. Four people raised $1.1 million.

There was a cool guy, he runs a lot of local support groups, he has MS … He received an award. The volunteer of the year came from Alameda, and I used to work in Alameda, a little island right off of Oakland. I worked there supervising down syndrome adults at their jobs, collecting carts at the supermarket. And I found out, I was 20 or 22 … I was too old to have such a low paying job I think. I needed to get my act together. But I sat around all day reading the newspaper and supervising adults. But I found out on my breaks, you can’t drive 26 in Alameda without the authorities checking you out. They have it locked down in Alameda. Congratulations to the volunteer of the year, who’s name I didn’t write down. But it’s all love. Alameda, baby!

All right, Dr. Dunn got up, it was time for the keynote address. He started us off with some history of the MS Society. It began in 1945. A lady named [Sylvia Clarke 00:05:49], her brother got this disease. She made a New York Times ad, and it read, “Multiple Sclerosis: Will Anyone Recover From It? Please Communicate With the Patient.” And 54 replied. No one had a cure. And all 54 begged for help.

So this is this thing called splitting and grouping. So there were MS cases, but they were all far apart from each other. And they were all kind of isolated, spread out. So they formed this MS society. People started working together, became together as a group. They defined multiple sclerosis, and then from that they split again to specialty classifications, like classic MS or opticospinal MS, primary progressive, and so on. Group and splitting, that’s the scientific paradigm.

And I got a footnote here, according to this guy [Coon 00:07:01] in [inaudible 00:07:02], a loosely characterized group of activities often consisting of competing schools becomes a mature science when a few concrete problem solutions provide models for what good research is in that domain. These exemplary problems come solutions become the basis of a paradigm that defines what it is to do normal science. And specialization is speciation, as scientific progress heightens communication breakdown. Experts doing similar kinds of research come to realize that their use of key taxonomic terms no longer jives with mainline uses. And what Coon calls the No-Overlap Principle is violated. The group is using a taxonomic hierarchy for crucial [kind 00:08:08] terms, and the associated categories that is incompatible with that of the established tradition.

Splitting and grouping. That was a cool idea. That slide really blew my mind. Scientific paradigm, splitting, grouping, and splitting and grouping. Cool.

All right, no more footnotes in this section here. The footnotes are over, take a deep breath. Wow, that was big words and stuff. And it was a cool idea, science splitting and grouping. We’ll split from that section though, and just continuing on … Dr. Dunn, he said, “Hey, there it is. Biology is complicated. It’s the results of complex processes comprised of many interacting components. And why things happen is often unclear.” I guess there is some long words there, sorry about that.

In MS, the immune system attacks the brain. That’s what happens, that’s why people have problems. Symptoms become visible because the immune system is turning your brain into what they call plaque. You ever scrap plaque off your teeth? Anyway, it’s not good for thinking I don’t think. There are at least a few thousand pathways in the immune system, and there’s no map. And Dunn thinks we need a map, because identifying the specific immune pathways driving disease can enable individually tailored treatment.

And then he said something pretty interesting. He said, “Multiple sclerosis is an end-stage name, it’s the wrong name. It’s like calling a fire … If you have a fire on your stove, your house isn’t burnt down, right? But it’s calling what we have multiple sclerosis, it’s like calling a stove fire a burnt down house.” And he suggested the name Immune Hypertension.

There you have it, Immune Hypertension. Thanks for listening to Season Three, Episode Two, The Scene Reported: MS Breakthroughs. It’s a What’s The Matter With Me podcast. You can find other episodes at Whatsthematterwithme.org, iTunes, Google podcasts, wherever you get your podcasts, it’s there. Check out more of the music like this sick background music, Soundcloud.com/john-hoppin. Worldwide universal sponsor, Hoppin Hot Sauce is a movement-

Hoppin Hot Sauce, it’s the best hot sauce. Hoppin Hot Sauce, it’s the best sauce in the world. The world, I’m telling you.

That’s right. Check it out, Hoppinhotsauce.com. It’s Season Three, Episode Two, in the books. Thank you for listening to the What’s the Matter With Me podcast.