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MS And Loving New Technology

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Courtesy of Cathy Chester
Courtesy of Cathy Chester

"I choose not to place "DIS", in my ability."
-- Robert M. Hensel

Last week my Wordless Wednesday photo showed a picture of a 1970's Smith Corona electric typewriter. Sometimes I miss using that powder blue piece of equipment. I used to get a "tactile high" typing on each thick key in quick succession, listening to the clickety clack noises and the clanging bell sounding off at the end of every line. I know it sounds strange, but I loved using the old girl.

Yet as much as I loved my typewriter, I love the convenience my laptop affords me even more. There's the sleekness of the design, the innovative technology it provides and the sexy empowerment I feel when I've mastered a new skill.

"I do indeed write on the road. My laptop goes with me everywhere."
-- Nora Roberts

The most important reason why I love my laptop is it opens the world to me without the need to leave the comfort of my home. When you have a disability, that's a very important reason.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the dark ages before computers. My first memory of owning a computer is when my son was seven years old, and we spent a few afternoons at Zany Brainy testing the latest and greatest computer programs for children. His favorite was "Putt Putt Saves The Zoo." Whenever I was tired I'd sit next to him in front of our new Dell desktop, watching him carefully maneuver that tiny purple car that was desperately trying to save the zoo. It was the perfect babysitter.

As he got older I worried whether I'd ever be able to return to work. I couldn't imagine how I could hold down a full-time job, or any job at all. How could I work when my biggest MS complaint was my constant enemy of fatigue? (I'd describe this fatigue by asking you to imagine your worst flu symptoms, then multiplying that memory by 1,000 percent. Your body completely shuts down, leaving you unable to walk, talk or think clearly. Your only options are to rest or nap).

Today, having a laptop at my disposal allows me the luxury of working from home. It provides endless work-related opportunities that a few years ago I never would have had. With my MacBook at my side, I can be creative through my writing and get paid for my work. I can work on my blog at my leisure and never worry that the boss may be watching. I can take breaks when I need to, nap when I have to and work odd hours of the day and night. It gives me the chance to be a part of the world again, not merely watching it from the sidelines.

It's extremely satisfying to be able to financially contribute to my family while also being a part of the working world. Being useful helps me feel less disabled; using my abilities enables me to regain some of the self-esteem and confidence I had lost. (Have you ever been to a dinner party when someone asks your husband what he does for a living, then ignores you and moves on because they know you're disabled and you don't work? Have you ever been out with friends and they talk about their respective jobs, yet no one asks you what you've been doing? As a stay-at-home mom I've experienced this. As a disabled woman I've endured this as well.)

This past year I met an extraordinary group of women who share my love of writing and my commitment to enjoying my life after the age of 50. We met on the Internet and have become fast friends. They've unknowingly lifted me up, helping me feel more "able" to continue writing what I'm passionate about while rekindling my faith in the kindness of strangers.

This new kinship has renewed my inner strength to finally give myself permission to imagine my fist breaking the glass ceiling, the one that accomplished women have broken time and time again with their spectacular achievements and successes.

"If Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters..."
-- Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF

Who knew that a laptop could give back to me what my autoimmune disease took away? It's a whole new world out there for disabled people, and my feet are finally dancing.

*NOTE:"Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease." Please contact The National Multiple Sclerosis Society for further information.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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