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John in the hoppin hot sauce trade show booth

What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 30

My name is John, I’m 38 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.

Disabled entrepreneur

Episode 30 of the What’s The Matter With Me? podcast revolves around promoting my brand at a trade show as a disabled entrepreneur with MS.

It was really fun and a major step forward for my business. Check out the episode for more.

Transcript:

Welcome to the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 30: “Disabled Entrepreneur.” My name is John. I’m 38 years old, husband and father of two, small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster. And I have MS. I made this podcast to share what I’m going through.

Recap last episode. I was talking about shoelaces, and some listeners wrote me back on the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Facebook page. That was cool. Thanks for hitting me up. I’m going to check out your suggestions. And then steroids. I took my MS drug Rituxan, and I had to take steroids. We had a little discussion about MS drug fatality risk. I talked about that I was going to the Winter Fancy Food Show. We’ll talk about it in a minute. It was cool. And then I played episode 3, the throwback episode. Check whatsthematterwithme.org.

I went to the Winter Fancy Food Show yesterday. It was a massive deal for Hoppin Hot Sauce first and foremost. But it was a big physical challenge for me as a person with MS. I had a lot of anxiety about it, leading up to it. I was also just doing a lot of work, so it was pretty stressful. I’m glad it’s over. I’m still decompressing. It was just yesterday. In fact, I’m kind of still in work mode. I’m sending invoices and filing stuff and getting ready to reach out again. So I guess it never ends, but Winter Fancy Food Show was great. We were set up in a row of young entrepreneurs. The guy on the right to me made a bunch of different kinds of hummus and interesting … he was Persian, interesting Persian products.

The partners on the other side were a man and a woman, and they made cookies out of tofu production secondary stream products. Which means stuff that’s usually a byproduct or a throwaway product. They used … they made it into flour, like some residue from soybean into flour. They wanted to make tortillas and all kinds of other bread products. But they make at this time cookies. That was cool to be next to them.

There were a lot of attendees walking by, thousands, throughout the day. We were in between Moscone North and South, kind of at the entrance of the hall in this kind of corridor, outside the elevator. Anyway, it had lots of people. It was a good location, because many people passed by and you could get them to sample the products. And so I’m a natural hawker. I’m like, “Hey, you.” Make eyes at people. They love me. I say stupid things. I’m great if you like a stupid hawker. I’m bad if you’re, like, wanting a highbrow afternoon. I’m not going to give it to you. I’m like to people … I’m like, “Hey, you know. I think you should probably try Hoppin Hot Sauce. It’ll change you.”

I just say … I think other people don’t say weird enough stuff, or they say boring thing. “Would you like to try?” I didn’t want to do that. I mean, how could I say that? I’m not that kind of guy. “Would you like to try a sample? Sample?” No, no. No. I’m just like, “Hoppin Hot Sauce will change you.” You know what I mean? If I don’t get them the first time, I’ll just be a little firmer. I didn’t hector or harangue anyone. I made a note beforehand, “Do not harass anyone walking by the way you know that you are just liable to do. No potshots. Highbrow only. Keep it clean.” Yeah, I did it. It was good.

There were some folks there, though. You know what I mean? A big old conference in San Francisco has some people looking of some type of way at the conference. It is great. There was a guy with crabs on his pants. I was like to Brook my assistant, helper, partner that day … I turned to her. I said, “Look, I think that man has crabs.” That’s the kind of day we had. We were just sampling hot sauce, chatting it up. I met lots of people. Crabs on his pants, you know what I’m saying? He had crabs on his pants.

I had a great time. I met buyers. I met vendors, manufacturers, and a lot of consumers. I learned a lot about what they thought about the sauce. It was like a giant focus group, a very useful one, full of professionals in the industry. Many people complimented me on the taste of the sauce and the appearance of my brand, marketing and labels, and stuff like that. My cousin made the table drape. Shout outs to My Media Designer. He made the table drape for me.

Brook helped me, and so it just was a really cool thing in that I met lots of people, and made lots of contact. And I kept my energy together by sitting down, by eating snack food, by drinking water. Brook really helped me with that. That allowed me to talk to people and represent the brand and sell the product. I had to take two potty breaks, and the bathroom was really close, right across the walkway. So that was simple. Thank goodness. It was a great opportunity to show what I had, and I had something. I love to talk to people. I could do that all day.

So thanks to Brook. Thanks to Manny. Thanks to my mom. Thanks to Nami. Thanks to KitchenTown. I managed to do it. My team was strong. Thanks to Cobra Verde. We all put it together and linked and came together like Voltron. I loved it. I loved it. And we were all in the head together making all the decisions, working as a team. And we were all in the arms punching and destroying, and we were all in the finger pointing number one. We were number one. Voltron.

So I’m really glad Hoppin Hot Sauce has a new extra hot product. Development went into high gear. We worked a lot, so good things are coming in the future. So let’s see what happened. I was gone for a couple weeks, so I had a few thoughts. I checked out Rooted in Rights. It’s an organization of disabled people in Long Island led by a woman who was … a young woman who used to be on Sesame Street. I think she was on like six episodes of Sesame Streets about 10 years ago. So everybody has something in their past, and for her it’s Sesame Street. But check out this group Rooted in Rights. They have a cool website, and you can subscribe. They have … it’s like a blog network. I still have to check out the Disability Visibility Project. I need to add to it Rooted in Rights. I’m getting more into this. I’m getting more resources, because something big is coming from this.

I was working hard getting ready for the Fancy Food Show, and now I started having … brushing up close to the wall my limits where I was going to have cognitive fog, fatigue. I’m starting to get tired. So in the afternoon, I was getting really foggy. And you know, when you have that cognitive slowness, it’s like mud, it’s like muck. I’ve talked about it before. You can’t figure out what you’re doing. You wander around the house. For me, I wandered around the house flipping light switches to see if that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. And then I flipped the light switch, it’s a garbage disposal. Scared the heck out of me. That brought me … snapped me to. I’m like, “What am I doing? What am I trying to achieve?”

That’s the thing about cognitive fog. For me, I’m trying to work. I’m trying to make things happen for myself. I don’t want to be lost in a fog all day. So that’s like one of the hardest parts about MS. But if you manage and you don’t work too hard in the afternoon and you … for me, I take naps. That seems to help, but it’s a tough balancing act. I got things I’m trying to do or I want to accomplish, so it’s something I have to work with all the time.

All right. Let’s get into this. The throwback episode number 2. We’re getting close to the end. So without further ado, way back from the prehistory of What’s The Matter With Me?, this was episode 2.

Right, let’s get down to it with What’s The Matter With Me? Episode 2. I’m John. I have MS. I made this podcast to share what I’m going through. So let’s recap last episode, episode 1. I sent it to, like, two people on email, and probably maybe they listened to it. Sometime you got to start small. So what’d we talk about last time? I have a hot sauce business. We talked about that, and my dream of employing disabled people, people who’ve been in the prison system, and veterans. And we talked about going on disability. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go on disability or not. Spoiler, I talked to my doctor. She said, “You should definitely be on disability. You can still make money and work.” And after that, I was kind of sold. Then we talked about my philosophy about trying to do things, and that’s what this podcast is about. So I think it’ll be obvious.

Part of it, listening back, something stood out. I said that I can’t. I used the word can’t, and even worse, I said I can’t work, which is so ridiculous. I have a company. I am on the radio on KFJC every Thursday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and I do a couple of other things while I’m at it. And I’m a dad for two people. I can work. Whether or not I can work, I’m going to try and work. That’s my philosophy.

So let’s talk about working in the garden. I have a garden in the backyard. California native plants. I spend a lot of time back there. I have trouble sometimes. I’ve fallen in the garden and hurt myself. One time I fell into the side of the house, and I, like, skinned my head, and I lost a bunch of hair. I mean, it was terrible. I like, basically, headbutted the side of the house, man, and the house won. So that was tough.

So I’ve been working a lot, doing physical therapy and balance exercises so I don’t fall in the garden, and I always wear my brace. I have an ankle foot orthotic brace that supports my ankle, helps me walk. So my physical therapist said, “You always have to have that.” And even I have a stick, like a cane, I use for balance. Got to have that. So I started using that, always when I go in the garden, and it’s reduced like … I was falling every day, and it’s reduced my falls quite a lot. Just today I ordered some accessibility tools, some kind of seat. We’ll see how it works. It’s kind of like seat stander kneeler thing, which’ll help, because I have to sometimes work on plants for a long time, and I need to sit near them. Maybe they’ll help.

That’s cool to invest in, the accessibility tools. Today I was trimming the rose bushes, and my hand comes into a fist, like a claw, and it’s hard to get a glove on. I had to really work hard, but I did it, and I trimmed my roses. I’m happy to say my rose bushes, which my grandmother planted at this house, are alive and well. So maybe grandmother and grandpa … grandma and grandpa, shout outs.

I’ve had inability to control my emotions. I have a lot of lesions, brain lesions, in my brain stem. My doctor said, “Sometimes you’ll have inability to control your emotions. It’ll feel bad.” And I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I’ve started to have that. I’ve really have a hard time on the weekends, because things are different. During Monday through Friday, I get up by myself. I have a routine, and in doing that routine, I kind of get a diagnostic sense of how well I feel and how much I can do that day. But when I can’t do it, like when my wife and my kids are up making breakfast when I get up, I got to take a shower.

I have a routine, and it gets me ready, so when I’m out of it, it’s causing me a lot of confusion. The routine helped me know, okay, here’s where I am. I get my breakfast going, and I have a lot of confusion, which makes me upset, because I don’t know what’s going on because there’s not really … my routine’s not happening. Instead, I’m reacting. And that’s difficult for me. So I’m trying to manage that, because I’m totally getting bent out of shape, going nuts, and becoming really aggressive, because I’m just super confused.

So that’s a challenge. Every weekend day we work on it. In the morning, and it hasn’t been going well, frankly. It just sucks, and so I’m working on it. Trying to control my emotions. I need a little support and understanding, probably a lot, from my family to let me do things like make coffee and things that allow me to see how well I’m feeling with my motor skills, but also allow me to say, “Okay, I made coffee,” and I can go sit and have coffee that I made.

So it’s little things, like, I go sit and have coffee and my breakfast on Monday through Friday. On the weekends, the breakfast still going, it’s been throwing me off, and it’s been making me really upset. I hope that just talking about it here and saying I intend to be better will help me get better.

So, that’s What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 2. Tune in next week. Probably I’ll email it to two people again, and no one’ll hear it. The What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast is available on Apple Podcast, and whatsthematterwithme.org. My name is John Hoppin. Episode 30 in the books. Thank you for tuning in.

Young green chives

Welcome to Episode 29 of the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast: “Rituximab Infusion”

In this episode we’ll take a look at:

  • no-tie shoelaces
  • last week’s rituximab infusion (my multiple sclerosis medication)
  • Hoppin Hot Sauce‘s inclusion in the Winter Fancy Food Show
  • Pre-history throwback pilot Episode 3, in which I have a hard time asking for help

NOTE: Most of the early episodes are offline for maintenance, and I’ll put them back as soon as I can get around to it.  Thanks for understanding.

No-Tie Shoelaces

In What’s The Matter With Me? Episode 29, I spoke about moving on from shoe laces, and soon after I recorded it, I was looking for new shoes.

asics gel nimbus 20

I bought Asics Gel Nimbus shoes with no-tie shoelaces and they are working out for me. They are black Asics running shoes with white soles.They look pretty much like regular shoes but the laces are made of elastic so they function more like slip-on shoes. They are kind of stretchy to move in and it takes some getting used to. At first I felt self-conscious wearing them but now I like the way they look. They ran me $160 on Zappos which is pricier than I’m used to but the shoe is a lot easier to use than New Balance 574 Classics which run around $75. They are so much easier to get on and off, and that saves a lot of time and energy, things in short supply.

Rituximab infusion

Last Tuesday I got my infusion of rituximab which is my primary multiple sclerosis medication. My appointment was for 1:30 p.m. but I had to take Benadryl and Solu-Medrol as precursors. Because it was the afternoon and I was taking powerful steroids like Solu-Medrol, I had trouble sleeping that night.

Rituximab is a prophylactic-type medication and I don’t usually feel a difference right away. I think it is helping me but I am continuing to have multiple sclerosis. It is not healing me for sure. It’s hard to tell, maybe it is protecting me from getting worse. That is a hard situation for multiple sclerosis patients like myself, because you can’t tell whether your medication is working or not.

I’m getting older for sure and that is no easy ride. So there are challenges for everyone always across the board.  I have a lot on my plate and I have to stay focused.  I’m glad rituximab infusion isn’t causing me any major problems.

Talk less, act more

winter fancy foods show moscone interior

Remember last episode I told you that my New Year’s resolution was: “Talk less, act more.”  I spoke about wanting to get my brand out there.  Well, things are happening, and fast!  It’s exciting.

Hoppin Hot Sauce will take part in the the Winter Fancy Foods Show as a part of KitchenTown‘s Incubator Alley booth at Moscone Center on Tuesday, January 23. I have been given an opportunity to jump-start my brand, to move from prototypes to orders, and to make my brand real. The time line is very tight and showtime is 8 days away.  It is taking all my time and fatigue is tough to manage.  I am intimidated by my workload and I need support to avoid getting into an emergency. I am reaching out- it is working. Letting people know about the challenge I face is getting them on my side.  I need the discipline to delegate and manage properly.

Baby chives

Baby chives are growing in the winter garden.  I can find peace and hope in the natural cycle of renewal and the good, right energy of growing plants.

Pre-history throwback Episode 3

Episode 3 revolves around having to ask for help, and the complicated feelings that go with that.  I need help, but I don’t want to ask.  It’s cool to hear old episodes, because of slight differences in the way I approach my disability.  Nowadays, I feel a lot less hemming and hawing asking for help.  This podcast has given me the strength to ask for help, and to be comfortable with myself.  That is a good thing.

hand

It’s a New Year and time to move forward

Last episode of What’s The Matter With Me? Episode 27 wasn’t very focused and I could have explained myself and foregrounded what is going on with my Multiple Sclerosis disability more effectively.  The title of this podcast is What’s The Matter With Me? after all. I resolve to run things a little more by-the-book this year.  For this episode, at least.

Cafe Oto

cafe oto street scene

Crowd outside Cafe Oto in Dalston, East London

Last episode,  I reviewed Marshall Allen’s Volcano Quartet CD Volcano Swing, a live performance at the BBC in London, where he was in town for three nights at Cafe Oto.  Listener Chris lives there and wrote in to let me know about the location, in Dalston, East London, and some live shows he had seen there.  It sounds groovy and I hope to check it out myself someday.

Never give up

I can have a bad episode.  A terrible episode.  Ghastly.  But I won’t give up or cede an inch in any direction.

I discussed in Episode 25 as well as Episode 4 that I won’t give up.  The pressure to give in and let go of the rope and drown in my disability is extreme.  Multiple sclerosis is suffocating and pervasive.  I have been dumped and it felt very bad — I bet that anybody having a hard time with something feels the same.

Tapering Medication

I called my neurologist to request help with tapering down Gabapentin, they said I’d get a call-back in 24-48 hours, but they called me back in about an hour.  I was concerned because I had adjusting my own dosage without any guidance, which is bad practice.  The nurse told me that my dosages had been fine, and outlined the boundaries for my pain meds.  My dosage is back to normal, and I am not in pain.

No-tie Shoelaces and shoelace replacements

I’ve bit the bullet and decided to get rid of my laced shoes.  I’ve got some no-tie shoelaces which turn my shoe into slip-ons.  They’re working OK but my shoe feels like it might fall off.  I’m glad to be done with shoelaces because they came untied and I wouldn’t retie them.  I’ve got some shoelace replacements in the mail.  I’ll go over them in an upcoming episode.

Disability Visibility Project

Disability Visibility Project Alice Wong icon

Disabilty Visibility Project Alice Wong icon

Disability Visibility Project is a platform for creating, sharing, and amplifying disabled voices created by disabled activist Alice Wong.  I said in Episode 25 that in 2018 I would bring new voices to the podcast and the Disability Visibility Project is part of that effort.

Interrupting the Uninterruptible

I hosted the Blues Collective with Jack Tar from 10am to 2pm on KFJC yesterday,.  For the first hour, Jack plays the music and runs the mixing board while I sit below in the interview area.  At 11, we switch places, and I run the board and he is below on the mic.  We do it again at noon and at one.

While it was my time to run the board, I played the same song twice.  I put my foot on the wrong place and unplugged whata the engineer told me was the “Uninterruptible Power Supply” — it turned off the CD players, the lights — pretty much the entire station!  I ferlt like I lacked focus or was fatigued, and I messed up the show.

Everybody feels that way sometimes.  “Uninterruptible”?  All I had to do was unplug it.

New Year’s Resolution

Talk less, act more.  This podcast is a bit of both.  Don’t think too hard about it.

Carpenteria californica, bush anemone

Episode 27 “New Blog / Throwback Episode 4: Help”

As my limitations from multiple sclerosis increase, I’ve had to get comfortable asking for assistance.  Asking for and accepting help is one of the secrets of effective people. Or so I’m told.

Winter rolls on. I continue to produce content and work on the site daily.  Being with family and experiencing multiple sclerosis or disability can be difficult to manage, and pressure only increases during the holiday.

Papa’s Got A Brand New Blog

I’ve added a blog to the site, and I discuss my first post, about a disabled woman’s social isolation.  Episode 4, “Help” from the pre-history, chronicles never giving up, in an echo of Episode 25.

I never stop reviewing records

I am reviewing Marshall Allen Volcano Quartet’s CD Volcano Swing. Marshall Allen was part of the Sun Ra Arkestra and this band is a continuation of that.  They were in London in 2011 when a volcano exploded in Iceland, grounding all flights. The band took a three-day residency at Cafe Oto in North London.

They stopped by the BBC Radio to promote the gig and recorded this CD. At the end of the CD there is a live interview and Marshall Allen reveals that he was a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra trapped in Seattle when Mount Saint Helens exploded in 1984.  Pretty awesome, it makes it clear that a musicians life is always about getting that next gig in line.

Episode Synopsis

  • It is cold in the garden and there was light frosting a couple of times this week
  • I’ve got a new blog
  • People in wheelchairs are judged and face cruel realities
  • Marshall Allen Volcano Quartet “Volcano Swing” CD review
  • Throwback Episode 4 “Help”

The holidays are almost over — just New Year’s. Hopefully I’ll hike somewhere good.

Cover of What's The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 26

Slogging through the holiday with MS and trigeminal neuralgia pain
I fell and ripped out the belt loop from my carpenter pants
Throwback to the pilot: Episode 5 when I had an MRI reaction and a boil on my butt – gross

Mary from Friends NYC @friendsnyc picked out this sweater

Cutting board

I‘ll Never Give Up – Look at my window: I’m alive.
I didn’t quit doing this thing that is very scary – to share.
I have built my disability consciousness and that will continue.
I am going to bring new voices to the podcast in 2018.
I figured out what I’m going to do about the handicap space at my children’s School- get help from the administration.
I am going to release the email only episodes to get ready for the New Year.

The photograph is of an accessible cutting board I recently began using.

6 inch diameter hole in drywall

What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast

Episode 24: Hole

Recovering from Multiple Sclerosis and moving my small hot sauce business forward

“Hole in the wall”, A fall story

I tripped over myself  in my bedroom and punched a hole in the wall.  It was klutzy and embarrassing, but at least the wall took the worst of it and I came through okay.

I’m in recovery

My Nurse Practitioner told me I was in recovery from MS and that changed my perspective.  I have been in a defensive stance, and I can begin to makje positive steps forward.

Hoppin Hot Sauce — Extra Hot

I’m spending all of my time creating a new flavor of Hoppin Hot Sauce, Extra Hot.

Positive vibes

Keep things positive and moving forward in a good direction, and everything will be all right.

Studio

Episode 23

Thank you for tuning in to the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast.  In Episode 23 Roll With The Punches I fall asleep at the KFJC meeting, hang in the yard, experience intense Trigeminal neuralgia pain, and read an old song lyric I wrote called “Roll With The Punches.”

Fatigue

I fell asleep at the KFJC weekly station meeting and that was distressing.  I woke up and everyone was looking at me.  It shook me and later in the evening I fell off the station couch awkwardly.  I go to KFJC to relax and these kinds of things make that difficult.

Yard hang

I went in the yard with John John.  It was a sunny warm day and we took our shirts off, wrapping them around our heads.  We laughed a bit and smiled.  It was a good thing.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain

I have been experiencing pain from trigeminal neuralgia in my right lower jaw on the buccal side.  It feels like going to the dentist, and when they say “it’s going to pinch” before you get novocaine and then it pinches and won’t stop pinching all night long.  It’s very hard, and I hope it stops soon.

Poetry reading: “Roll With The Punches”

I read a song I wrote called Roll With The Punches.  Check it out:

Roll With The Punches

You gotta roll
With the punches sometimes
Sometimes,
You gotta roll

You gotta know
Who’s on your side
Just as much as
Who’s passing you by

Don’t have no glass jaw
O Hell Naw
When you get knocked down
You gotta stand up tall

You gotta bend but don’t break
Give em all they can take
And a whole lot more
Until you hear em hit the floor

You gotta roll
With the punches sometimes
Sometimes,
Sometimes.

 

-John Hoppin, 2013

 

John

Welcome to What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 22, “Gallons, Untied Shoes, Commes des garcons/Rei Kawakubo, Surplus Store Shopping”

In this episode: New hot sauce size — Disaster: Shoes came untied — Changes in disability is like wearing Rei Kawakubo/Commes des garcons clothes — A good time shopping at the surplus store

New hot sauce size

Hoppin Hot Sauce now comes in gallons, for my foodservice clients.  It’s so they can re-use bottles.

Disaster: Shoes came untied

My shoes came untied durinf my radio show and my cohost untied them.  He was older than me, and it was thought provoking.

Changes in disability is like wearing Rei Kawakubo/Commes des garcons clothes

It’s ungainly and strange; people look at you funny.  No one, including myself, knows quite what to do.  I read some commentary about the avant-garde fashion designer Rei Kawakubo and I found commonality with my experience as a disabled person.

A good time shopping at the surplus store

I went shopping with my family at the surplus store.  We got a lot of things that we needed, it wasn’t too difficult.  My family helped me a lot.

Tracksuit folded up at the black and brown thrift store

Welcome to What’s The Matter With Me? Episode 21, “Complicated feelings about Federal Disability, Falling, Nasty Tracksuit”

In this episode: Qualifying for Federal Disability Pt. II — Two Falls, One Painful, and The Other With Wine — Going Shopping and buying a tracksuit with filthy pictures on it that my wife asked me not to wear around her or our children