Or so I say when I tell someone I have MS. It’s a kind of turning the attention away from me/filling the awkward silence kind of a thing. Mostly, they then try to argue that they’ve got it easy compared to me, and I say again, ‘things could be worse.’ I know that to be true, but sadly me saying that leads to people telling me how rubbish things are for me. But actually they’re not so bad.
That awareness of how fortunate I am came to the fore again this morning. I was sitting in the hospital waiting for my run-of-the-mill review, and watching all the other outpatients as they made their way to the end of the corridor to the MS clinic. Ridiculous really, putting a clinic for people who often have mobility issues at the very back of the hospital! A few were like me, walking unaided, but several were dragging themselves along between two crutches, or being pushed in wheelchairs. There was one man, probably about my age, who had dropped one of his crutches and he had to get right down on his knees to retrieve it. It was so excruciating to watch, and yet to offer help might have humiliated him further. Another lady struggled the whole way over, checked in and then went back to get a coffee. She came back again saying she shouldn’t have taken both crutches as she’d no hands free to carry her drink. This time the receptionist offered to go for her, but she shook her head and set off again, one crutch left behind. The lady sitting beside me told me that her dad had died only two weeks ago. He’d had MS for 65 years, and his wife had become his full-time carer at least ten years ago. Now his daughter has it too.
So you see, you don’t have to go far before finding that there is always someone else facing something that overwhelms them. It’s not just in the hospital either. I remember my mum used to always tell us that the most problem-filled area in her elder’s district was also the most wealthy.
Everybody has something, and knowing that changes how you treat people I think. Right now, today’s experience makes me feel utterly heartbroken, but also deeply thankful for all the somethings that I have that are good, and filled with love. And that’s a something worth smiling about.