MS Money Matters: Keeping Up with the Joneses

This week in our MS Money Matters series - Trevis Gleason feels a little left behind by the new economic boom 

It’s been nearly 5 years since my wife Caryn (and our ‘puppy’, Sadie) landed on this island and made it our home. We have been changed much by Ireland in general and by West Kerry specifically.

The pace of existence, it must be said, has been much more conducive to living a good life; MS or not. But it’s not just that things are slower; our lives seem to eddy over obstacles here rather than cascade in exaggerated, white-water rapids. “Aw, sure… It’ll be grand.” has helped Caryn and I get through some difficult physical episodes as well as a few financial difficulties.

Everyone here seemed to live that way when we first arrived. But the new ‘boom’ economy has me feeling set apart again, just like my multiple sclerosis sometimes can.

I’m not longing for the times of austerity budgets and cuts to life-line social welfare programs. Please don’t get me wrong. Neither am I ‘The Yank’ trying to live some “The Quiet Man” existence; shaking my fist at motorcars as they speed down our bohereen (only to find it’s a cul-de-sac). But I do miss the days when everyone was sticking to a budget the way many disabled people must.

The first papers we picked up in the shops when we moved reported what €180,000 might land you in the housing market around the country. Last weekend’s paper had the same story, but with a €620,000 price tag. There are a lot more “16”s and “17”s on number plates then there were 10's and 11's when we moved here. And the vehicles adorning those new plates are much bigger and more expensive then we used to see rambling the bumpy west Kerry roads.

“Black Friday” promotions and even the red and green of Christmas while Halloween candy is still on the shelves – not to mention the weekend fly-and-buy shopping trips to New York and Boston that harken back to the days prior to economic collapse – have sneaked back into Irish life… and people living with disabilities (and the related extra expenses) are still searching for two pennies to rub together.

It was a little bit easier when everyone around us was wearing last seasons (or last year’s) fashion and dinning in on ‘the spuds’ rather than couscous or at the latest sushi-fusion hot spot in the posh neighborhoods.

A drop-foot, stick or crutch, a walking frame or scooter, a wheelchair or accessible van can already tend to make us feel “other”, now it appears that the financial fortunes (no pun intended) of those who are not hampered by this or other chronic conditions are pushing me out of the main stream, into the slow, still waters and away from the fun.

I’ve never liked the term ‘fixed income’. Let’s face it, unless you have side-gigs or work with commissions or incentive bonuses, we all tend to make the same wage week-in and week-out. But many of us on the lower levels of that ‘fixed’ scale who struggle to keep up at work, have had to step back a bit – or completely away – felt like we were back at the table when everyone was cobbling together a couple of punts just to get by until the next pay cheque.

Please don’t take this as culchie begrudgery of the big city folks. Few people are being handed large sums; they are working very hard and paying high prices in order to live in this new-boom economy.  I also know that many hammered away with little rest or reward during the bust and are deserving of a few of the nicer things in life for the effort.

What I’m getting at is that there was some communal comfort when that flow of life’s river changed course a little bit and I was once again in the mainstream with other paddlers rather than relegated to the slow waters and watching larger and larger yachts passing me by.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.



Trevis’ new book, Chef Interrupted, is in the shops now. You can also follow him via Life With MS Facebook page, on Twitter and don’t forget to check out

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