Bro Hugs and Awkward Introductions
Introductions are always a bit awkward, sorta like a bro hug. You are not really sure what you’re getting into, and woe are the hugger and huggie who aren’t on the same page. So I’ll try to give you a bit of insight into who I am and what I am about before we get too serious in this new virtual relationship of ours on MultipleSclerosis.net. But if at any time you feel the need to cut bait and return to the comfort of collecting cute kitten photos on Pinterest (awwwe), I’m totally cool with that. (Aside from being cool with that, I’m also a bit confused since, horrors, I’m not a Pinner, but I digress.)
Anyway, my name is Dave Bexfield and I run the multiple sclerosis website ActiveMSers, which I started when I was diagnosed with the disease in my mid-30s. As the name implies, it’s about inspiring and motivating others with MS to stay active—physically, intellectually and socially—regardless of disability. That last part is important. While we attract our share of marathoners and mountain climbers (and equestrians and snowboarders and cyclists, and, well you get the picture), we also have many members who aspire to simply live richer, fuller lives, disability be damned. Ironman or ironer, it doesn’t matter as long as the attitude is there.
Since I’ve been doing this now for over a decade, odds are pretty good you’ve heard about me or the site. Maybe you’ve breezed by to check out my cooling vest reviews, seen flashes on social media about an exercise study highlighted on our forums, or read a story that featured yours truly, like the MultipleSclerosis.net article on my 2010 stem cell transplant experience. Let’s just say, I get around. Speaking of which, check out some of my travel advice in the National MS Society’s newest Fall 2017 issue of Momentum, the cover of which I graced—or defaced depending on your perspective—a few years ago.
An optimistic misfit
As members of ActiveMSers are well aware, I’m an optimistic misfit. I’m also a sciencey guy—and I fully realize sciencey isn’t a word, but I’m a professional writer (really) so go with me here. I try to tell it like it is, even if what I have to say is uncomfortable to hear. And for better or for worse, I have a lot of experience navigating myriad disabilities brought on by multiple sclerosis. My version has been delightfully aggressive. On the plus side, arguably the only plus side, it does help my writing come across as more authentic. I’ve been there.
My carepartner is a forgiving woman named Laura who will have put up with me in an official wife capacity for 25 years come this January. She also enjoys my nightly cooking, allows me to properly load the dishwasher (I think she puts in dishes all wrong on purpose), lets me fold her shirts poorly when I do laundry, and laughs at every one of my jokes, even the lame ones.
Now you are probably wondering about the “active” part of ActiveMSers, coming from a dude who started using a walker three years after diagnosis. Really, how active could I be? Let’s just say I stubbornly practice what I preach. I exercise, hard-hard, daily, regularly maxing out my heart rate and working up such a sweat I have to change shirts. I travel worldwide, having explored a quarter of the countries on the planet and every continent sans Antarctica. I make it a point to enjoy friends and family every week despite the fact that family can “sometimes” drive me bonkers, and that is in quotations because they often read my work.
Here’s a little bit more about me to see if you want to right swipe. To see if we gel, click. For starters, I like romantic walks on the beach NOT AT ALL. Sand, heat, and the threat of drowning, not to mention the whole walking/rolling in sand part, are drawbacks. So is my fear of sharks. And tornadoes. And sharknadoes. People say I’m witty, but only partially. Like halfway witty, ergo just call me a halfwit.
I am a strong proponent of eating healthily. But I also enjoy beer and Cheetos in moderation. While I respect and understand those who follow strict “MS diets,” after hearing from thousands of MSers over the past decade, still the only people I know of who have bounded out of wheelchairs after following such diets conveniently sell books promoting those diets. (Just some anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, turmeric-laden food for thought.)
Researchers say daily exercise and stretching is essential when you have multiple sclerosis. I couldn’t agree more, and there is mounting evidence that it may slow the progression of MS. But as an avid daily exerciser for the past 20 years, I don’t believe it cures or halts this disease. After all, I am using a walker, wheelchair, and forearm crutches. That said, I don’t have fatigue or cognition issues, two key areas exercise is believed to influence in MS. I don’t think that my good fortune in these two departments is all luck.
A few other things I believe in. I believe in disease modifying therapies for MS even though I’ve gone through a half dozen. I believe pharmaceutical companies are not all evil, but that they darn well deserve extra scrutiny. I believe my neurologist is smart and knowledgeable about MS despite the fact that we may disagree at times. I believe complementary and alternative medicine has a place in treating MS, but not in lieu of a disease modifying treatment or at the expense of savings.
And I believe that there will be a cure for this disease. That MS is BS: Multiple Sclerosis is Beatable Someday. Hell yes, I believe that.
Irregular, like constipation
I plan to be contributing regularly here at MultipleSclerosis.net, but how regularly will have to remain a bit fuzzy. I’ve got more than a few irons in the fire, ActiveMSers will always be a priority, and this month I’ve finally committed to start writing my best-selling memoir, which will eventually be made into a major motion picture starring someone who is, assuredly, devastatingly handsome. (Oh sure, a wildly successful book and a movie might sound like lofty goals, but know that I don’t shy away from big challenges. I will make it happen. But give me a bit of time. After all, I’ve got this disease that slows down my typing a tad.)
So as I wrap up introductions, what I’m trying to say is that you should expect my future posts to be a bit like MS constipation—not frequent enough, but when they arrive there very well may be a sense of relief, even joy. And, warning, they may also raise a stink. Or just stink.
Until next time, new friends. Be active, stay fit and keep exploring!