When my wife was heavily pregnant, she was still working full-time at a local Arts Centre. One of her jobs was organising and overseeing a large showcase and market for local creative makers.
Although she was required to work long hours, she obviously wasn’t expected to (for example) move large tables and other bits of furniture around on her own. Because she asked for it, there was assistance in place to help her (notably other people – including MYSELF, I should say!) .
Fast forward to last weekend. I was working at a similar event, basically a family-focused affair. We had a small team in attendance over various shifts in the day. As such I was on my own, standing for about an hour before taking down the display at the end of the day.
My wife was on-hand to help out but – that pesky p-word again – PRIDE wouldn’t let me ask for any additional assistance. I felt pleased with myself that I’d had the forethought to ask about accessible parking! Surely that would be enough of a fuss, right?
Standing for that hour totally wiped me out, and my left leg (always the first symptom to rise up) was particularly unwilling to help me out. But I struggled on – muttering under my breath and focusing on getting us home safely.
Like Jackie and her post about her crazyRoller Derby, I allowed myself to get dragged down in unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.
If I can’t stand up for one hour, how can I possibly look after my wife and child?
If I can’t attend similar events in the future, what sort of pressure will that be adding to my team?
Won’t people just start to resent me adding to THEIR workload?
And just like Jackie, I’d forgotten how far I’d come.
Since my diagnosis, I have consistently been in employment – whether part-time freelance contract positions or my current full-time Head of Department role. I’m part of the team which is behind a successful street arts festival in the city where I live.
And that’s aside from the small matter of becoming a father. Not to blow my own trumpet you understand.
In my wife’s situation, she was OBVIOUSLY pregnant, so people could see when she needed assistance, sometimes without her even having to ask (!). With our situation, it’s a slippier beast.
On most days I look fine – aside from external signs like my walking stick. A slight stagger and a bit of a limp might clue you in, too.
But really – what is it that makes it so difficult for me to ask for assistance? What would be the issue with asking for a seat? Or someone to help me to take down our stand? Maybe even offer me a trolley?
This is my problem – and it might even be an issue some of you, too. I need to start facing up to the fact that I will probably need assistance of some kind in any given work situation. It certainly beats ruining a weekend for me and my family.
And as MS places little challenges in our paths each day, we should also try to remember the things we’ve achieved and continue to achieve despite our shared condition.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?