The older I get the more convinced I am that my youth was wildly interesting and that I spent it dancing in the streets, drinking copious amounts of beer in hip gay bars and seducing the hottest butches. Honestly, though, I know better; I drank a little too much beer, spent way too much time in bars, and was probably a bit more promiscuous than I should have been. I was not any more interesting than any other teenager coming out as a lesbian in small town America.
When I tired of trying to misspend my youth I enrolled in community college. When I finished community college, I left my hometown to finish my Bachelor’s degree – not because I was particularly ambitious, but because I had no idea what to do with an Associate’s degree in English. When I finished my Bachelor’s degree I decided to go to graduate school—partly because I had no idea what to do with a Bachelor’s degree in English and partly because by that time I had decided I wanted to be a professor. I earned my Master’s degree in Creative Writing-Poetry and my doctorate in American Literature with a focus on poetry. After graduate school, I spent a decade teaching Basic Writing in a community college embedded on the main campus of the University of Cincinnati (UC). Eventually, I ended up in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at UC, where I served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies and taught Sexuality Studies courses. At first glance, moving from teaching English to teaching courses in Gender and Sexuality Studies might seem strange, but when I landed in WGSS I felt as though I had always been on a journey to that place. I was “home” and I loved it. I believed that my story would end with me hobbling out of the university having grown old and decrepit.
Though I certainly hobbled out, I did so much earlier than I expected. At the beginning of the academic year in 2008, much to the surprise of my students and colleagues, I began to fall with extraordinary frequency. My shoes began to leave skid marks in the hallway and I frequently spilled my coffee and myself in the hallway outside my classrooms and office. One day as the department secretary was helping me back to my feet, she said, “This is ridiculous! You have to see a doctor.” A month later I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; about two years after my initial diagnosis it became clear that I have Secondary Progressive MS. In a little over four years I have gone from falling in the hallway to nearly full-time use of a power chair. I have also gone from teaching full time to medical retirement.
About ProfSpazz’s Blog
I am not at all certain that I have anything to say about the issues I’m about to address. I do, however, feel a desire to make public some of my experiences as a lesbian living with multiple sclerosis. That said, I know that many articulate and gifted bloggers – Wheelchair Kamikaze, for instance – are already writing excellent blogs full of invaluable information and insight. Nonetheless, I am cognizant of the fact that by their very definition blogs are published journals, deeply personal thoughts laid out for public consumption and analysis. Perhaps, then, I have already answered my own question by stating that I have a desire to write. As I imagine it, ProfSpazz will vacillate between the utterly ridiculous and the more serious as I attempt to give some meaning to the quiet solitude that is my daily life. Of course, I hope that I will gather readers along the way and that I will be able to entertain, and perhaps even touch, those readers.
At this point, I have decided that too much of my time has been spent trying to figure out how to live against this disease. It’s time now to learn to live with this disease. I hope that this blog will help me achieve that goal. Armed with voice-recognition software (my hands are useless when it comes to typing more than a couple of words), a computer that serves as my connection to the world, and more time than any one person should have on her hands, I’m going to give blogging a shot. If you have come to this blog because you’re living with MS, then you already know that there are many blogs by gifted writers who have much to say about the subject. My blog will, I hope, differentiate itself by talking not only about subjects specific to MS but also about life as a lesbian living with MS. Mind you, I have no idea whether I have anything useful or interesting to say but I figure that if I’m a bore, and you’ll simply stop reading and go on about your merry way.
A Word About the Blog Title
The title ProfSpazz names one point at which my pre- and post-diagnosis lives collide. I was a professor; these days MS-related spasticity is my constant companion.