Okay, so here are the facts. I absolutely broke my foot this summer, and it absolutely took longer to heal than anticipated. It opened my eyes to what it’s like to be physically challenged going through life on a day-to-day basis.
But my foot isn’t the only challenge I’ve faced, and that has been even more eye-opening.
This past Saturday, the man and I explored Ikea on a mission to find a piece of furniture for my side of the bed. For anyone who hasn’t wandered the paths of Ikea, it’s a pretty vast place and the walk is long. Along with limping a little due to my bum foot, I have also been dealing with stiffness and weakness in my legs, courtesy of MS. As I struggled to stay on my feet and walking at a normal pace, I got frustrated with all the people around me for being totally oblivious of me ~ cutting me off or walking in front of me ~ or my favorite, not moving out of the way, thus forcing me to change my course. I got mad ~ wanting to spit the words “This isn’t hard for you like it is more me!” at every person who bumped me, or caused me to lose my balance.
And then, as I sat on a day bed resting my legs for a minute and regaining better sight (exertion, heat and stress cause my optic neuritis to flare up, which as you can imagine, is always fun), it occurred to me that physically, I look exactly the same way I did a year ago, before all this bad sh*t started to happen.
There is no way for anyone who looks at me, sitting or standing, to know that anything is wrong with me. And if a person -at this point- sees me shuffling along and favoring my left foot, they might assume I sprained my ankle. Not that I’m struggling with my legs.
And I wondered how many times in my life I might have caused difficulty for someone else, struggling like me, who showed no outward physical symptoms that anything was wrong.
It sort of bummed me out. And it’s been on my mind for days.
Do I want sympathy? No. Do I want people to treat me with kid gloves because they are concerned I am not as capable as another, fully healthy person? No. But with that comes taking the lumps of walking around Ikea and being treated like everyone else … when physically, I’m not. When physically, whether I look like it or not, I’m struggling to walk as normally as possible.
In January I came out of the gate strong ~ stay positive, live life normally. Be normal. That has gotten increasingly challenging as symptoms have taken over my body and I’ve been handicapped by a broken foot. Through my mother, we visited an MS specialist at the beginning of August. He felt my medicine wasn’t working, so as of last week, I’m on a new course of treatment. We are hoping the new meds and the new doctor help to get things under control, but it’s definitely been an uphill climb.
This summer has been hard and things might be hard in the future. But I hope I always have moments like that moment at Ikea. Reminding me that from the outside, I’m still me, and I look the same as I’ve always looked. And in truth, I am still me. And that’s how I hope I stay.