Traveling with MS: I learned more in 15 minutes while waiting for a train at Union Station.

After spending a weekend in Chicago with my daughter, we find ourselves in crowded Union Station to catch the Amtrak back home…

I’ve never been on a real train before. My legs are VERY wobbly, buzzy and weak after walking most of the day, no where to sit at the gate. There were a lot people waiting to board. Emily and I found a little corner and rested. It was a day to find out how mean people can be… I guess, in a situation that results in corraling people, some people show their true selves, their sensitive or insensitive sides. I want to share this next part with you, only to give perspective as a person that looks “normal” but doesn’t “feel” that way. So if you either share my vantage point as a fellow MS’r or as a person who is willing to see through my eyes, even if it’s for only a moment… I learned a lot within a 15 minute time period, as we waited to board the train. I was, for the first time, brave enough to come forward, and admit I needed help.

This is hard for me, to admit I need help, so this truly is not easy. The fear of rejection is, I would say, the is my biggest fear. It’s been a long process, but I’m getting more confident to be able to not care what strangers think. They announced Senior Citizens and people with physical challenges would be allowed to board first. My legs were wobbly, vibrating, and aching so much. I was having a really hard time with my balance. I thought, darn it. I AM physically challenged, whether I’ve ever admitted that or not… So I took my cards out of my purse to “prove” that I have MS (and I’ve been on clinicl trial for a new treatment that compromises me even more) and started toward the line…. Many cruel things spoken, loud enough for me to hear, as people were talking amongst themselves… I heard comments of “who does she thing she is? She sure isn’t no senior citzen (I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you)” ” She doesn’t look physically challanged to me” ” that lady is cutting, maybe anyone can pass as physically challenge if you have the guts.’ The most disturbing thing, however, is the Senior Citzens, rude and pushing me back and claiming, with all Authority, “Excuse me, Miss, I AM A SENIOR CITZEN.”….pushhhhhhhhh….. I couldn’t believe it. I was trying to be strong, for my daughter sake. She was oblivious to it all, thank goodness. She knew my legs were tired, but thankfully she didn’t notice the cruelness of some people. A sweet couple standing next me, were very comforting. I explained, embarressingly, after hearing all these comments, that I have MS and my legs feet as if they were about to collapse. They agreed that some people could be so unkind and selfish.

Wow, I guess I didnt’ realize how hard it was to admit to other people that I needed help. To be strong and move forward is the easiest part, it’s the admitting to those sweet folks. I had to take down my shell of determination for a second to defend myself. I had to fight the welt of tears. The fear of rejection flooded over me like a rush. I wanted to go home!!! It was such a wonderful weekend, I wasn’t going to let this spoil it for me.

So, as I approached the lady letting the SENIOR CITIZENS in the gate, I was just a little nervous. I was half expecting her to say, as the others in the crowd, it didn’t look like anything was wrong with me, and sorry go back in line. BUT, she looked at my paper work, and said, “Honey, you just go right on ahead…” Just like that, I was validated in front of all those people, that even Amtrak considered my stake in claim, that yes, there is a physical need.

To those people: I don’t care what you all thought. I will never see you again. As painful it was, emotionally, for those 15 minutes, it was totally worth it. For the first time, if I muster enough courage to push through my pride and ask for help, the people who matter will understand.

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