In today’s world, we are constantly being made to believe that something is wrong with us because we have multiple sclerosis. Those of us using walking aids, wheelchairs and braces for some reason are seen as broken. We move much too slow, drop things way too easily and need help way too often with even the simplest of tasks for most people to bear. And those with MS who don’t need visible help…the stumbling, pain, emotional moments, and memory difficulties are viewed in the same way: an inconvenience for others.
I can remember when I first started using a cane. I tried to hide it from people. I really did. I would wait until the last moment possible to get my cane in hand in order to walk across the parking lot of the grocery store. I would try to keep it as close to my right leg as possible thinking it would make it less noticeable. It didn’t, but I tried anyway.
The walker was much harder to hide. I felt like I was pushing around a truck with caution signs and flashing lights. “Look at me, here I come! Beep, beep, beep.”
The responses it invoked in people was not always comfortable to handle either. As soon as someone saw me with a walker, the questions began…too many questions, and ones that required exhausting explanations. I wasn’t ashamed of MS, I was simply tired of the constant “What’s wrong with you?” questions met with “I know what you need to do to make MS go away” responses.
Sometimes for me, the easiest response was lying and saying “It’s a football injury.” That was always met with a smile and a nod…even though I’m a girl. What? Sports injuries are more readily acceptable than a chronic illness?
Now that I use a wheelchair, it’s a bit harder to hide my walking difficulties but I’ve also gotten better at handling people’s stares, questions and comments. It still gets to me at times, but I’m okay with most people’s responses. I’ve come to understand that the negative and insensitive comments made by people simply show who they are as a person and has nothing to do with me.
One of the most important things I have learned is that multiple sclerosis has not left me broken. Cracked? Maybe…but I think I was cracked way before MS came along. If anything, it has opened my eyes to seeing the real me and to seeing how broken this world really is.
Yes, it takes me longer to do just about everything from checking the mail, to vacuuming the floor, to getting out of bed. But even though I may not be fast at doing things, I can still get to where I’m going. It may take some creativity and some extra help, but I make it every times.
Ultimately, it would be wonderful to live in a world where disabilities took a back seat to who we are as a person. That day will probably never come, but regardless of what the world thinks, I want you to know that you are not broken.
You are a beautifully patched together work of art covered in scars yet filled with amazing resilience and strength. Your scars display an amazing roadmap of courage. You are not MS, a cane, a wheelchair, or an emotional mess. You are incredibly you! You are important, needed, and wonderful just the way you are…and don’t you ever forget it.