Knocked down by MS - Help with reboot?

I've been knocked down by Multiple Sclerosis – Help with a reboot?

Dear friends, family, acquaintances and compassionate strangers,

For many of you, actually the vast majority of you, this is the first time you’ve heard from me in twelve or more years – ever since Paulette and I moved to Saguache in 2002. That lack of communication is very disappointing to me – but I “knew” that I would be rebuilding all of my wonderful relationships after we accomplished our goal of building our gallery in Saguache. Well I was unable to complete that goal and in the process I failed to maintain our friendships. I’m certainly sorry about that. Maybe the following lengthy tale, at least to some extent, explains why.

After a couple years in Saguache, I started noticing problems with my walking (based in my right hip) and my balance (so I discovered while attempting to relearn Tai Chi . . . and also while up working on our steep peaked tin roof – separately, thank you). I was also noticing problems with strength and gripping with my right hand. (As well as numerous other less serious mystery symptoms.) Thankfully, the rate of progression of these disabling symptoms, some being less so, was and continues to be reasonably slow. But they have continued to plague me and worsen quite incessantly for about fourteen years now. That's when I suffered my first symptom, double-vision, which virtually went away within 2 months but can still come back slightly when I'm really tired.

In this same era, Paulette left Saguache and me . . . in our 6000 square foot major project of a 19th Century mercantile store warehouse – my home and the location of my never-finished gallery. Although she moved to Salida, she always helped me out with my "big town" shopping from there.

Anyhow, although we suspected it for a couple years previous, I was finally professionally diagnosed with MS about five years ago.

I should add at this point that I’ve truly been continuing to enjoy my life and work nearly every day . . . and been smilin’ many many minutes. Plus, I fell in love with the beauty of the San Luis Valley, and the quietude and fine folks of Saguache. And it’s certainly been positive that my relapsing/remitting MS (RRMS) has not been too aggressive. Notably, I’m still walking, albeit with the help of my walking stick.

So I’ve been constantly juggling tight finances with my long-time (34 years) self-employment for going on ten years now . . . while “powering through” the quite disabling and often painful symptoms of my basically untreated MS. (I receive treatment for a couple symptoms but I have so far been unable to access disease-modifying medication.) Although life’s been a certain struggle throughout such extended period, at least I’m still active and working every day.

And I continued such juggling fairly effectively until about 3 years ago, at which point it all started to overwhelm me. And then, about two years ago, end of May, 2012, I took a quite bad fall due to my MS-induced drop-foot. With a spiral fracture to my right humerus, I left the hospital with an 8 inch steel plate held tight with 27 screws. Thank you Dr. Hunter! I also received an MRI and a second/confirming MS diagnosis during that surgery period.

Sadly, the eight day hospital bed stay took a serious toll on my MS – and I spent the next three months in a wheel chair in my home in Saguache. Thankfully however, I had a second-hand motorized wheelchair sitting there previously unused by me. Paulette had received it about five years ago from a client of hers who knew I had MS, while she was working in home health care. Thank you Reverend Hargreave . . . and Paulette.

And further with the appreciations, great thanks to my sister Trish (and my father in the financial background) and my longtime friend (and 1975 hitchhiking partner) Jeff; who, along with Byron, Becky, Dave, Dan, Ann & Rebie of Saguache, helped “nurse me” through my first month at home; and helped me remodel my home for wheelchair living. Thankfully the wheelchair has sat unused since September, 2012.

So far, I’ve failed to recover much physically. My walking has degraded some compared to previous to my fall; but more noteworthy, my walking stick has virtually stolen my left arm from me, allowing me to carry very little; and therefore I'm quite limited in many types of work/productivity. This after I’ve already lost notable use/strength of my right hand & arm.

And so, on to more recent history and my current status. More than one Saguache old-timer described the early part of the past winter as the worst December/January temperature-wise in their memory. (Average daytime high, 25 -- nighttime low, minus 10.) Those terrible temperatures and my related daily wood stove work took a rather serious physical toll on me – and such period was quickly followed by my far-and-above worst (six week) case of serious MS fatigue. It may have been caused by a new MS exacerbation; or it may have simply come to the surface through the stress of the bad weather combined with my impending loss of my home in Saguache. Throw in a substantial time loss due to some serious computer problems (my most important business tool); and I ended up extremely unprepared for my move of the last weekend of April from Saguache to metro Denver.

Once again, wonderful sister Trish, along with her boyfriend Eric and son Josh this time, came to my rescue, all the way from Maryland, again with Dad’s help. With the help of Paulette and her sister Annette and my fine friend and Denver antiques associate, Jeff (II), they all loaded me up in a quite jam-packed 20 foot U-Haul and moved me into a quite well filled 10 by 20 foot storage locker in Denver.

My friend Kerrie was kind enough to allow me to land in her extra bedroom in her fine home in Commerce City. Such allowed me the time to get settled in with my new (first ever) laptop, and my first-ever cell phone. But being knocked down by the move and being unable to drive more than a short distance and/or a short period of time, I failed to make any inroads into finding a new home, needing to locate closer to central Denver. I have since, in early June, moved to another kind benefactor’s home in Denver itself, but yet another move and my need to continue to deal with living out of two suitcases and a box have left me worn down and at scratch again.

So here I am, 12 years later, back in Denver. But now without a home, currently without any income, without an active business, virtually out of money, and continuing to deal with the serious negative symptoms of my so far virtually untreated MS.

Yes I’ve received much help over my last five years of struggle –struggle caused mainly by my MS; but also by substantial bad luck, and yes, some questionable choices I’ve made. I’ve received medical help, physical help with my (currently incomplete) move, and financial help. These generous supports have always been great to relieve stress and pressure at especially rough spots in my life, but they’ve always left me to return virtually immediately to juggling the bills, projects and maintenance of my handicapped now-single life.

So I’m now hoping for a major reboot. I have been able to retain a reasonably good supply of smalls to help me rebuild my business. I’ll be able to restart my eBay selling and hopefully do a show or two in the not-too-distant future; and my relocating near Denver central will allow me to network with my old friends and associates in the business. My highly developed research skills will also allow me to re-enter the appraisal and consulting ends of the business. I also look forward to considering some writing and/or editing in the coming years . . . and to possibly investigating speaking and voice-over work.

But first I need a somewhat-handicap-accessible home with substantial home-office/-photo-studio/-shipping/-repair space. Also, I need to get hooked up with new primary medical care (I’ll be needing updated prescriptions quite soon) and a neurologist. I have been offered the chance to participate in an MS study through Mountain View Clinical Research of Colorado and I have had a number of conversations with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s office here in Denver.

I truly and clearly see a fine future back here in my former home of Denver, a superb city that I certainly regret ever having left, but I’ve arrived here at the end of a long & hard road and am hoping for substantial help to solidly start this reboot. I look forward to soon providing you and others with highly experienced and extremely skilled services in the worlds of Antiques & Collectibles.

And finally, why my specific financial goal? I am needing a home with home-business-space in a large two bedroom apartment (or similar size space). It appears that finding such near central Denver is going to cost me something in the neighborhood of $[phone redacted] a month, plus utilities. First and last months' rent of course. Maybe even an additional deposit? Throw in phone and Internet services, various insurances, about $500 in needed automotive repairs (for my return to substantial driving – or maybe for good resale value of my van when I just decide to give up driving), and food, gas, immediate medical, etc., possibly plus some continued but well-downsized storage for a short term, and I’m quickly over $2000 a month plus in expenses. Certainly needing a minimum of three months to be solidly up and running . . . and so my goal. Yes, it’s admittedly a somewhat loose estimation, but I’m confident it will allow a successful reboot. I’ll make it work – I like to work – a whole lot.

Also, if you might have any leads for an appropriate space for my home & business – reasonably close to central Denver – your suggestions would be appreciated.

I hope and believe that my future communications with you won’t be a plea for help. And as time goes by, I hope and believe that I’ll provide reason for you to be able to consider any generous response to this plea as a positive investment.

Thanks so much for your time and consideration,
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Michael Cassidy 
Saguache, CO
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