It's a Small World
It’s a small world.
No, I am not referring to the ride at Disney that Patrick Leer had me laughing about recently in his blog entry about their adventures on the infamous boat ride; if you missed it you can find it at here. I’m talking about an even smaller world, without the animation and repetitively singing dolls that can drive you nuts; mine is a small world full of crossed paths and serendipitous moments that never cease to amaze me.
My husband suggested we try a different place to eat at on Saturday night- we have driven past Nick’s for twenty years, never stopping but often commenting on the crowd in the parking lot. The lure this time was a buy-one get-one free coupon. The hour was late and we figured there shouldn’t be much of a wait. We headed out to Nick’s, surprised that though the parking lot appeared rather sparse, inside there wasn’t an empty seat to be found. We were equally surprised to discover that Nick’s was just one step removed from being a biker bar.
A quick glance around and we decide perhaps we wouldn’t stay because it was a young and loud crowd, but decided to take a few minutes to have a seat at the bar for a quick drink before moving on. Shortly after sitting, a young woman approached to take our order. Being the friendly type, I initiate a conversation with her and quickly learn it is her first night back to work after having her first baby. As she went to serve others, I couldn’t help but notice her gait and the tremble in her arm as she poured a drink. Shortly thereafter, a table opened up and my husband and I debated moving there but opted, instead, to remain precariously balanced on those high stools. The server passed by again, and I kindly observed to her that it looked like her first night back was tiring and I hoped she could take a break soon.
It was then she dropped what I already suspected – she told us she has MS. My husband flashed her a knowing smile, pointed to me, and said ‘so does she,’ and we immediately began the conversation. She was newly diagnosed just before her pregnancy and had not yet started a drug therapy. She had hoped to nurse her newborn, but was going to give up that idea so she could get started quickly because the notorious post-pregnancy rebound relapse was hitting her hard.
The owner of Nick’s has kindly had her stop waiting tables where the balancing act of food and drinks could be disastrous for her and her customers and spend her shifts behind the bar where there’s plenty of countertop to cling to for assistance.
Everyone who has MS knows what comes next in a conversation with another person with MS – the big question after ‘what was your first symptom’ --- ‘who’s your neurologist?’ She smiles and tells me she travels to Ohio State and the punch line is she sees the same doctor who treats me, Aaron Boster. This wouldn’t be so extraordinary if he were local, but it requires both of us to drive about 90 minutes for his care. For a change, I didn’t have to recommend my MS doc to a stranger – she already knows him.
My apologies to her other customers who might have felt slighted Saturday night, but we had important things to share and discuss. As she brought up bladder issues, she glanced toward my husband and matter of factly told him she was sure he had heard all this before but still hoped he didn’t mind. He nodded and smiled as he took another bite of his breaded pork cutlet sandwich, acknowledging it was going to be another one of those conversations I am known to have with strangers who end up becoming friends. This patient man has visited with me and my friends with MS from the east to the west coast, and not once complained while he has sat and listened in.
It turns out I am the first person she has talked with who also has MS, which is unfortunately all too familiar a story. We lingered a bit longer than we would have at Nick’s and she got one exceptionally good tip from my husband. I passed on my contact information and the next step is up to her, but I’m available for a cup of coffee and conversation whenever she wishes.
Although Nick’s is not the type of restaurant we might ordinarily dine at, we agree we will definitely go back to support this small business and the kind hearted owner who is accommodating the needs of a young working mom who just happens to have MS. Perhaps we’ll make it a Sunday evening when the bikers are out somewhere else. I share this story in the hope that you will also take the time to strike up conversations with strangers – you never know where it might lead and who you might help.
As the Disney ride plays over and over…
“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
it’s a world of hopes, it’s a world of fear
there’s so much that we share
that its time we’re aware
it’s a small world after all”
We could have moved on to another restaurant, but chose to stay. We could have left the bar stools behind and sat at a table being served by someone else, but we didn’t. We could have ignored the person waiting on us and been absorbed in our own conversation, but we weren’t. Had we done just one of those things, my world wouldn’t have been so small.
Wishing you well,
How well do people around you understand MS?