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