Y’know, I quit hanging out in chat rooms and message boards for folks with multiple sclerosis quite a while ago. Don’t get me wrong, they can certainly be an asset for the newly diagnosed looking for helpful information and answers for some of the questions they may have about their affliction. I found them helpful myself in the early stages of my attempt to acclimate myself to the new and limited life I faced.
After a while, though, these places started getting me down. Why? Well, I found that more and more I encountered an atmosphere of resignation common to too many of the people I saw there…having lost many of the abilities they’d been accustomed to in their healthy days, they allowed themselves to be diminished to an (for me, anyway) unacceptable level of inactivity, incuriosity and overall lethargy…a level of simple existence rather than living that I felt was an unhealthy environment for me. To virtually live in a chat room, doing nothing but mouthing the same platitudes about ‘fighting the good fight’ and other hackneyed phrases would be anathema to me. After a while the talk came to seem as meaningless as the chatter of magpies on a telephone wire, and the aforementioned platitudes, complaints and endless blather about inconsequential matters just got on my last nerve.
People that know me are aware that I’m one of those who means to live despite the limitations put on me by this disability. I keep up with the things I’ve enjoyed and am still able to do . I have my small radio controlled flying models, airsoft shooting and of course writing to keep my mind busy, though only the latter is available year round owing to the cold weather of winter.
When I finally escape this confinement, I intend to be as sharp as I can be. I’ll be driving again, flying larger and more complex model aircraft, handling and shooting real firearms and more, and I have no intention of letting my reflexes and situational awareness deteriorate. I can accept the things I can no longer do, but I’ll be damned if I allow those I still can do to be diminished or lost.
The very best therapies to exercise those skills are found in gaming and simulations. Using them regularly keeps me up to speed, no doubt in my mind. Laugh if you want, but I started gaming at the same time I got my first PC in 1997 and considered it helpful even then for staying in good mental shape.
It was a pretty serious setback for me a few years ago when my dominant left hand lost almost all function. With that I lost a big piece of who I am…I’ve been into first person shooter combat sims all along but was suddenly unable to fight in them. I was never some über gamer as you’ll find in CAL, the Cyber Athletic League, but I was pretty far from casual and even headed an online combat clan. When I realized I could no longer use a mouse and keyboard together, a necessity for FPS games, I thought it had departed my life for good.
Enter the Android. I’ve talked about how useful my tablet is in terms of creativity and productivity, but it also excels at games and sims with its quad core Tegra CPU and advanced video hardware. Simple point-and-click adventure games don’t begin to challenge it, but it absolutely shines when running a flight sim like X-Plane 9. In game purchases of additional aircraft are only a dollar, so I can keep my piloting skills current for next to nothing. Recently I added a Cirrus sailplane, and can now practice aerotowing (it came complete with a towplane) and soaring with the sim’s great flight model. Incidentally, one of the nicer features of Android games in general is their very low cost, with many good ones offered free of charge, so a careful shopper can wind up with quite an impressive library of games and other apps for very little cost.
For an activity requiring split-second timing and reflexes, it’s hard to beat automotive racing apps like Mini Motor Racing, a bit cartoony with its caricatured automobiles but a serious sim nontheless, or the near-photorealistic Need For Speed: Most Wanted.
But the creme de la creme for me is being able to play my beloved FPS games again. True, I’m having to learn a whole new skill set to move, shoot and look around using an intricate dance of the fingers of my good right hand, but it is so worth it to have my favorite type of gaming back in my life! I may never excel at the shooters, but I’ve dusted off my old gaming name, ‘Gunloon,’ and one of these days you might just see me online again. For now I’m content to duke it out with the zombies in Dead Trigger…but you never know!
I don’t know exactly when I’ll be free of confinement, but you can bet I’ll be ready for that day when it arrives. I hope you good folks out there will help it come sooner rather than later, so as always, if you can spare even a small amount, donations to Get Glenn Mobile! are always very much appreciated!
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