As I write this, I am waiting for a friend to stop by my house to give my awesome dog Ferdinand his morning walk. The past couple days, my legs just haven’t wanted to work, not consistently anyway (that’s a thing that happens to me sometimes, but not the purpose of this article), so I needed some help to get my pupper out and about to take care of some business. As I waited, I couldn’t help but get that feeling that has so often bugged since I was diagnosed with MS. That massive feeling of frustration I have when I have to rely on someone else to get the most basic of needs taken care of. Learning to accept that I need to rely on others has been one of the hardest parts of this disease for me.
Getting help is tough for me
Getting help, for even the simplest of things, is tough for me. I admit it though, I need help at times. Sometimes I need someone to carry my plate from the kitchen to the table, because maybe I’m not walking great or my hands are having problems. I often need help opening items (damn you string cheese wrappers!). Other times, I need someone to help me with my dog, like today. Or I have to go somewhere, anywhere, because I don’t drive. So yeah, I’m not exactly the most able-bodied person, which is why I was put on disability.
Relying on others
Just the fact that I am on disability sticks in my craw. I fought hard against it, even knowing that it was the only real option. I resent it every day though. It feels like I’m relying on others for my livelihood, even though, in theory, I’ve paid into it for years and years before needing it. I want to be able to work, I want to be able to walk my dog, and man, I really want to be able to open my own string cheese. Not being able to do things, whether it be make my own money or open my own fun and delicious cheese snack, just drives me crazy! It can take me on that rollercoaster ride of emotions, where I get angry, depressed, anxious, embarrassed, disappointed, and frustrated, all in the span of a few minutes.
I have always been independent
At first, I was going to talk about how this is all even worse because I’m relatively young, or because I’m a man, or because I’ve been at this MS thing for a long time, or because I look perfectly fine on the outside. But honestly, none of that matters. I think I’d be just as frustrated, disappointed, and upset about having others help me, no matter what my life situation was. I’ve always been a pretty independent person, which makes my current situation seem intolerable at times. Even if I needed help with something in the past, it was OK, because it was always on my terms.
It’s not on my terms
That’s really the source of all this I guess, that when I have to rely on someone else, it’s not on my terms. My body forces me to accept the help of others and that upsets me. No one likes to be forced to do anything. I begin to feel like a slave to my disease when I have no choice but to rely on the help of others. It’s also the biggest thing that makes me feel like I’m different than everyone else. It’s a massive reminder that I’m not “normal” and that life isn’t going as planned. How many 40 year olds have trouble opening a string cheese? (ok, maybe there aren’t really a lot of 40 years olds enjoying string cheese, but if that’s the case, trust me, they’re missing out).
Trying to be gracious and accepting
I imagine I am not alone in all this. Having to rely on help from others is probably a blow to the pride of many. While it’s unpleasant, I try to look at the benefits. Putting our pride and other emotions aside is extremely tough, but important to living a happy life. So I’ve been trying, for a while now, to not only be gracious, but to be more accepting when others are there to help me. I try to focus on the benefits, and I also try to look at is as just another way of adapting to my disease. Accepting help from others is in no way giving up, which is another feeling that nags at me. On the contrary, it’s a way of continuing the fight any way we can and not letting the disease beat us. Accepting help from others makes you more of a fighter, not less, because you’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep going. When I think of it like that, it makes it a lot easier for me to handle. So by all means, someone please open my string cheese for me, so I can keep the fight going, and also enjoy a delicious snack.
Thanks for reading!