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:

Sitting

Welcome to the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast: Season 3, Episode 5: Matrix of Domination

Coming up, I’m afraid to get a scooter because I fear my own disability, I get ready to emcee for Walk MS, and try to understand my place in society vis a vis Race, Gender, Class, and Ability.

My name is John, I’m 39 years old, husband and father of two, small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster. I have multiple sclerosis, so I make 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.

Shoutouts & Recap

I always have to do that. I always have to tell you call your doctor. Anyway, shout outs to Mary and David. Shout outs to people who contacted me saying, “That was a powerful episode, I almost cried.” I understand that, I have almost cried before. Please, though– don’t cry to this. That’s right, email me using the contact form, I’ll give you a shout out.

Recap, last episode I was talking about Sacramento, the scooter and 2666 and some new music I made.

I almost don’t have a lot to say. I mean a lot has happened in the last few weeks.

Scooter-shy

I decided to get a scooter last episode. I went to the scooter store, I tried on a few scooters, and I kind of was like, “I’m not sure.” I left, and then I just got less and less sure. Something is coming up in the next month or so, going to allow me to decide/know more about scooters. I really don’t know much right now. I just kind of have the salesman’s word. I wish I knew more ’cause buying a scooter, some people pointed out to me, I’m not going to get to do twice. I’ve got to get it right. That kind of freaks me out, and it’s making it so I can’t pull the trigger. I’m like, “Oh it’s so important. I have to get it right.”

I’m the Walk MS emcee

In a month, I’m going to be an emcee, I’m going to be the emcee. I mean forget about an emcee, I’m the emcee. My buddy Charles is coming with me. Come on, Charles is riding my coat tails, let me be honest. Got to take a break there before I bag on Charles too hard though. Anyway, we’re going to do the Silicon Valley Walk MS. That’s happening on May fourth, one day before Cinco de Mayo, so it’s like the mellowest day ever in San Jose, because it’s going to pop off after that, right? Cinco de Mayo. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, but I’m going to be emceeing the Walk MS on Sunday May fourth in San Jose right next to the arena in the park. My idea about that is that I’ll see a lot of people with MS, and I’ll get a lot of ideas about what kind of scooter to get.

Fear of my own disability

I kind of think it’s silly to go out and drop it’s almost like 2000 bucks on a scooter, and not kind of see it all in motion and get feedback from people. I also am like, “Am I just being a chicken?” Maybe, maybe I am scared of getting a scooter. I’m scared that I’ll become a vegetable, and you can bury me in the ground. I don’t know, it’s fear of death I think, I guess, I don’t know, fear of something. I have a lot of fear. I’m afraid to get a scooter, it means I’ll be something. There’s probably something to that. My fear is that I’ll get a scooter and in so doing, I’ll like turn into something awful, which is really I think probably myself being afraid of my own disability, and beating myself up about it. I should just accept reality and realize that a scooter is going to really help me.

Interesting, this kind of leads into the next thing I wanted to talk about. I thought about the lens of gender, race and class, and about ableism. People talk about that, “Oh someone is discriminating against another person based on their level of ability”, and that is definitely a thing I can tell you as a person with a declining ability to walk for example, even though all that’s declined is my ability to go on a long walk, people treat me like I’m somehow deficient, which I guess I am if we’re in a walkathon. I think I will make a great emcee for the MS walk! Talk about it! I’m excited for that. I think it’s going to be positive and powerful and awesome. I think anytime you get a group of people together.

Race, Gender, and Class

Well then I started thinking about that, race, gender and class, and I started thinking about ability. It brought me to something. My therapist went to Austria to film The Special Olympics last year. The spring of last year’s Special Olympics was in Vienna. We talked about the desserts of Austria, even though I don’t really know anything about it, I know they’re supposed to have really good dessert. I kind of was like lusting after it. I was like, “Oh you can eat dessert when you go there.” If I go to Austria, I’m going to dessert. Funny, I use swipe assistant type typing, and it thought I said deserts, the deserts of Austria. I wonder about if there are deserts in Austria, maybe I’ll get back to you. All right, I checked that out. There are not deserts in Austria, there’s the River Danube and a bunch of alps, that’s what’s going on, mountains and rivers.

When my therapist came back from Austria, he said he had a realization that disability affects all people regardless of sex, class or race. Disability is complicated because I’m having trouble with disability, and I’m an American white male. I have definitely a certain amount of privilege that goes along with the experience of being disabled by multiple sclerosis. What can I do about that? I went searching about race, class, and gender, thinking it was going to help me. This is from the University of Albany’s website talking about race, gender and class analysis. It says, “It invites us to distinguish between thinking comparatively and thinking relationally. People think comparatively when they learn about experiences other than their own, and begin comparing and contrasting those experiences.”

“It’s a step beyond centering one’s own thinking on a single group, typically your own. Relational thinking involves seeing the inner relationships among diverse group experiences. When you think relationally, you see the social structures that simultaneously generate unique group histories, and link them together in society.” Everyone has a race. Everyone has a gender. Everyone has a class. We can compare our position in that lens. We all have those three things. We’re all at a different level. Also, we all have ability, that’s what I realized. We all have a level of ability. I had to turn to this kind of analysis, thinking relationally: “you untangle the working of social systems that shape the experiences of different people and groups, and you move beyond just comparing gender oppression with race oppression, or the oppression of gays and lesbians with other racial groups.”

“When you recognize systems of power that mark different groups’ experiences, you possess the conceptual apparatus to think about changing the system, not just documenting the effects of the system on people.” Now that’s interesting, it’s like a way to analyze this complex machine. What is that term they used? I love it: “Because of their simultaneity in people’s lives, we advocate using the approach of a matrix of domination to analyze race, class and gender as different but inter related axes of social structure.” We all can plot ourselves along these different axes. It creates like a different social mechanism, social creature in each person.

Commencement

Wow, that was hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it. You guys are geniuses if you listened to all that. Anyway, that’s true. I mean we’re all kind of trapped in a matrix domination.

You can change culture

Hey, culture changes. It’s not you’re trapped in glass. It’s true, you can change culture. Back in episode 13, 14 and 15, way back, I had a lot of problems with people parking in the handicap space. I’m trying to drop my kids off and people would park there using it as a five minute space or something. I had a lot of problems, but I talked to people, I got help in the organization and I kept at it. It kept showing up in episode after episode, I’d try and drop my kid off, someone’s in the space using it as a convenience. For me, it’s like I need access. I stuck with it.

I haven’t had anyone park in the space for a long time. The one time it did happen, I saw another parent who I had been going to the center with for a long time stop by and tell them, “Hey, this isn’t for people to just park here. This is the handicap space.” Someone backed me up. The culture changed, that is a cool thing you can do that. Stick with it, we can change culture.

Thank you for listening

Thank you for listening to What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast, season three episode five: Matrix of Domination. Find other episodes at Apple Podcasts, whatsthematterwithme.org or wherever you get your podcasts. The worldwide universal sponsor Hoppin Hot Sauce is a movement. (singing). 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 three, episode five: Matrix of Domination.

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.