Battling ALS: America’s new daytime drama “Soapbusters”

In "Ben Hur" a drum beats as the cadence changes to row progressively faster. "Battle speed," and the slave's row faster. "Attack speed," he yells and the pace quickens.

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CHARLOTTE, NC, July 9, 2017 – I have invented a new sport called “soap hockey.” It’s more of a participation sport than for spectators but it could be fun if you have several uninhibited friends who might enjoy watching you chase a bar of soap around the shower.

The rules are simple. Get in the shower and drop a bar of soap. Do this accidentally rather than on purpose because it can be time consuming and exhausting if the soap decides not to cooperate.

Once the bar is on the floor, the object is to see which hand can pick the bar up first. You might be surprised how eel-like a little bar of soap can become when you have limited use of your arms.

If you can corner the soap between your feet, you’re in a strong offensive position. Reach down and pick up the soap to the best of your ability, however, do not be surprised if it squirts away to another corner of the shower.


If you are fortunate enough to pick up the soap, then the hand that saves the day gets one point. Like soccer, many games end with a score of 1-nil, however if you happen to be in a down cycle in your bio-rhythms or if you are just having a bad soap day, it is quite possible to chase the soap two or three more times.


Battling ALS with a guy named Murphy


The game concludes when the shower is finished and one hand has picked up the soap more than the other. Ties are completely acceptable because a sudden-death playoff could be disastrous.

It is especially difficult to play soap hockey with a broken arm. My doctor officially confirmed that I broke the humerus in my right shoulder two weeks ago before I leaving a cruise to Bermuda.

Since I did not want to miss the cruise, I waited to go to the doctor longer than I should have, but other than a massive bruise on my right arm and some piercing pains when my shoulder was not in the right position, it was not unbearable.

X-rays showed there was a fracture in the humerus and the bone had come out of the socket slightly. “This sounds like surgery to me,” I thought when the doctor gave me the diagnosis.

“I think at this point, we will not do surgery,” said the doctor, much to my relief. “There are a few reasons,” she continued. “One is your age. Another is the length of time since the accident and third, surgery won’t help you move your arm much higher than over your head anyway.”

That was when I looked at my wife and thought, “Hell, I can’t move my arm that high now.”

So there are some benefits to the aging process, being a typical male and not going to the doctor immediately and to surviving with ALS.

The doctor put me in sling, gave me some pain medicine and made another appointment three weeks down the road. Sometimes you just get a lucky “break.”


A new electric wheelchair and new travel destinations battle ALS progress 


In the meantime, my souped-up motorized wheelchair arrived and that has provided me with plenty of new projects as I try to learn how to get around and adjust to my new-found “freedom.”

The chair has several positions for comfort: recline, tilt and extend. There are also settings for your legs and feet so you can adjust to almost any position to be more comfortable.

Tilt position puts you so far back in the chair that you could actually go to the dentist in the wheelchair. Recline adjusts your back and neck and elevate takes you upward about 12 to 15 inches so you are at eye-level with the person you are talking to. They do not recommend that you drive the chair in the “elevate” position, however.

In addition, there are five speeds ranging from “Tortoise” to “rabbit.” If you remember the scene in “Ben Hur” when Charlton Heston is rowing an ancient Roman ship into battle, you have the sense of what “tortoise to rabbit” means.

In “Ben Hur” a drum beats as the cadence changes to row progressively faster. “Battle speed,” shouts the commander and the slave’s row faster. “Attack speed,” he yells and the pace quickens. Finally, there is “ramming speed” where the ships collide and the battle takes place.

“Tortoise speed” with an electric wheelchair isn’t going to win any races, but it is safe and comfortable. By the time you reach “rabbit speed” however, your caregiver is running at a slow trot behind your and there’s a good chance that you will be struck by an oncoming vehicle if you lose control of your chair.

The motorized wheelchair is a marvelous invention but it does take getting accustomed to its nuances.

Meanwhile, I plan to continue perfecting my “soap hockey” skills, in case there’s another remake of “Ghostebusters” titled “Soapbusters.” I will be ready for my cinematic debut.

About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Read more of Bob’s journeys with ALS and his journeys around the world

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Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.