Zoom, Zoom, Zoom with Long Haul Paul

Long Haul Paul YamahaI quit my last real job in 2016, leaving the business world to dedicate my life to the goal of riding a million miles by motorcycle for Multiple Sclerosis. Not only do I no longer get a paycheck, I have been immune to the monumental changes happening this year in the workplace and schools across the entire world. For most of the country, meetings, trainings and interactions around the water cooler have drastically changed. Working from home, balancing work with helping the kids get some form of education while learning new communication technology is a struggle I haven’t had to endure. I have never had a Zoom call or meeting, in fact, every time I hear the word Zoom, I visualize adolescents dressed in striped outfits doing cartwheels and egg rolls on a black and white TV screen. No Contact and Touchless Service are terms I still associate with carwashes and strip clubs.

I’m not living in a bubble, social media has destroyed that possibility. My wife’s school just went to full remote learning and not only do I see the stress it brings her, I see the enormous disruption this pandemic is causing across our state, the country and the globe. I guess not having a real job is sort of a blessing because I am not part of an office team or have people I work with on any level. I wasn’t forced to make major adjustments to every day interactions with coworkers or clients and remembering to pull up my neckerchief going into gas stations was the extent of changes to my workday routine.

I am however affected by the virus in my personal life, being disconnected from those I love. It has been months since we have seen our granddaughter, my mom or my brothers and sisters. Yesterday, my son who lives alone, 100 miles away in the neighboring state informed me he cannot come for Thanksgiving this year as he would be violating his companies travel rules. He would have to self isolate for two weeks after his visit. He would also be violating travel restrictions in his state as well. Disappointed and a bit angry at the lack of uniform rules and regulations and the continued hypocrisy from our leaders, I suggested our family could get together the day after Thanksgiving legally, perhaps exchanging turkey sandwiches while standing for hours in the mile long line of bargain hunters waiting for Best Buy to open it’s doors at the crack of dawn. After all, neither state has outlawed the annual Black Friday shopping stampede at the Mall, just the nontaxable Thanksgiving dinner with your family.
2020’s pandemic has me spending more time at home, working on new fundraising ideas, trying to grow my online audiences and recovering from my eye and arm surgeries.

My major motorcycle events and presentations have not been replaced with some form of online conference or virtual reality convention, they have just cancelled all of them. I had only one speaking event for MS patients early this year and so I was excited to get a call inviting me to speak at the annual MS Views and News Symposium in Florida.

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Although my eye was tender and light sensitive from my recent cornea transplant, I tossed a pirate patch over it for protection and let my good eye guide my Yamaha Tenere 700 from my home in New Hampshire to Orlando Florida. I took the long way down with a detour to get some great photos on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The 1300 mile ride on the new bike certainly improved my well being. After all, Motomedicine is an important part of my disease therapy!

Perhaps it was my subconscious that silenced the word virtual or maybe I just didn’t care. I needed the miles and time back on the road. Although I certainly realized the audience would be tuning in to the live event from the safety of their own living rooms, it wasn’t until I arrive at the studio that I learned the presenters were not actually attending the event in person, they were all broadcasting remotely as well. I had emailed the producer, letting him know about what time I was arriving, but apparently he played along, thinking I was joking!

Long Haul Paul YamahaI may have been squinting and sweating from the lights, but I delivered my inspirational presentation live to a few hundred MS patients tuning in to hear the latest information on how to better live with their disease symptoms and progression. The event was a few hours long and I was not only happy to be part of it, but also proud, knowing money I raise helps fund educational events like it across the country. Since I began my quest 8 years and 450,000 miles ago, with the help of followers and friends across the country, I have raised a quarter of a million dollars for MS!

Upon arriving home, I was having some minor health issues and called my primary care doctor’s office for an appointment. When the receptionist heard I had just returned from an out of state trip, she said I would first need to have a Covid test right away. She gave me a bunch of information on how to order a test online, how to fill out the questionnaire, where to send it, and more. I stopped writing down instructions when she further explained I would be receiving an email and a link to have my appointment with the doctor.

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I put the pen down and interrupted her, “Excuse me. This appointment is not an actual office visit?”

“No,” She replied. “It’s called Telemedicine.”

Perplexed as to why a covid test would be needed before Face-Timing my doctor, my only response was,

“Um. I’m sorry, but I am absolutely and completely confused.”

“Don’t worry,” She added, “You will do fine. It’s just like using Zoom.”


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