“Every time we let something go we open ourselves up to something better”-Lori Deschene
The past two days have been unusually rough, for no apparent reason. No new symptoms. No new arguments at home. I have been taking my psyche medications consistently. But I found myself tired and hiding in the bedroom. So, when my husband asked me if I wanted to go to the store I wiped my eyes and resounded with a whopping, “YES!” He gave me a strange look, but then got the wheelchair ready for our outing to Target!
Once in the store we went our separate ways. He did the majority of shopping for food but first pushed me to my area of interest: clothes. I successfully navigated through the isles. It’s tough shopping in a wheelchair. The clothing racks are awkward and tiresome to reach. Often, I can barely fit my wheelchair in between the displays. It makes me wonder if some stores are truly handicap accessible, like they boast. Still, I found a few items on clearance, which is always a plus! I even saw another lady shopping there in a wheelchair too! She had her little shopping basket on her lap. She was shopping without help. Just like me! For some reason seeing her made me feel proud of myself. I don’t know why.
Within a couple of minutes I had to use the restroom. Hmmm. Should I call my husband to help me? I really didn’t want to. I felt capable and in control so I wheeled myself to the ladies room alone. Now, the most complicated thing here for me is getting the restroom door open. It’s difficult because it’s so very heavy to me. My plan of attack is to push the door open with one extended leg. I can do it if need be, but it’s at a huge cost. It drains my energy for the rest of my shopping. So as I was struggling to open the door an employee walked up and offered assistance. It was obvious I needed help, but I actually had to think twice before I let her help me. Why is it so hard to accept help?
Well, I did accept her offer to open the door and she even returned to let me back out of the restroom!
I find that when I allow others to help me, it brings out the best in both of us. I also have to continuously let go of how I use to be. Including, what I use to be able to do for myself. I’m learning to balance my quest for independence while still receiving help from others. The two need not be exclusive.
Best of all, I saved my energy and I was able to continue shopping!
As a volunteer for many service organizations over the years, I find it difficult to even ask for help let alone accept it when offered. To the point of not getting something I need due to embarrassment/shyness. It is something I seriously need to get over to maintain my quality of life. I still drive- have more balance issues when walking so I do try to get to the stores with elec. carts early or late afternoon when its more likely that one will be available. The thought of going into a super warehouse leaves me shuddering with contemplation as to whether or not I really, really need the item that is at the far end of the store. Sometimes I just give up and go back home when there are no carts. I have a scooter at home but no way to transport it.
I have had MS almost 30 yrs, it did not get bad until 5 yrs. ago. i.e. could ignore the symptoms or just adapted to them. now, I walk with a cane (hate falling over) and still have fatigue issues when I go out. I am seeing my neuro next week and will ask him for a wheelchair script. Its not something I really want to do, but as you said: to conserve energy for the things I really want to do, and to get myself out of the house.! I wish I had the money for a Segway! that would be way cooler than a scooter.
People who give and give tend to have a harder time receiving. Be as a good a receiver as you are a giver. That’s my motto for 2012.
Sounds good to me!
Oops. Looks like I replied twice. Sorry.
Fine by me!
I have both an electric scooter and an electric wheelchair. I don’t have the arm strength for a self-propelled wheelchair. I’ve learned to get both through doors, with practice. The push doors are a lot easier than the ones I have to pull outward. The scooter and wheelchair are both heavy, so I need a lift to get them in and out of my van. Then I must walk around to the front of the van and climb in. Without help I run the risk of falling, spilling the contents of my purse into the street, and having my keys slide under the van, out of reach. Sure embarrassing when that happens in front of a lot of people. My 15-year-old daughter brings the van as close to our front door as possible, so I have a minimal distance to walk from the house. The other day she crashed the van into the house, and she doesn’t even have a learner’s permit. My 10-year-old is good at loading and unloading the scooter from the van but is too short to see over the steering wheel, so can’t move it for me. Needless to say, I stay home as much as possible.
With practice I’ve gotten pretty good at opening doors myself, though the ones that pull out towards me are harder to do than the ones that push inwards. I have both an electric scooter and an electric wheelchair, because I don’t have the arm strength to go far in a self-propelled wheelchair. The scooter and wheelchair are very heavy, so I need a lift to get them in and out of my van. It’s difficult for me to do so alone, and there is still the need to walk around to the front seat of the van and climb in. If I don’t have help I can lose my balance and end up on the ground, sometimes with my car keys way under the van. Totally embarrassing in public, believe me. My 15-year-old daughter has learned to bring the van close to the front door of the house so I don’t need to walk far, and she parks it again when we get home. That’s when she is home and in a mood to help. Then the other day she crashed the van into the house, so maybe letting her help isn’t the best idea. Then I have a 10-year-old boy who is good at getting the scooter in and out of the van, but he’s too short to think of driving just yet.
Have you considered a scooter? It has made life SOOO much easier for me, esp when navigating in a store. I can’t use a wheelchair, I don’t have the arm strength needed to navigate it on my own, but a scooter, now THAT I can handle! plus, I feel like ‘I have so much more independence! I can go everywhere in my home, even outside without any assistance. You should maybe consider it, at least have it on hand for an “if or when” moment. better now than later.
Kim, it’s in the plans for 2012.
This was definitely meant for me to look at and read. I do have difficulty accepting help and have always been the one in the past helping others. I pray to grow in that area and am learning to work through those difficulties. That is why I am always on these sites looking for more ideas and ways to help. I have MS but it doesn’t have me.
Jill, Im glad you found my blog too! Trust me learning to accept help is definitely a process that doesn’t happen overnight!
That’s awesome that the employee actually offered to help *and* came back! That is amazing to me. I’m glad you accepted the help and were able to continue your shopping trip. It’s one of the most difficult lessons that Im learning.
Maxine, I never quit learning with MS! Happy Holidays!
Nicole, I finally realized/decided a while ago,that if I accept or ask for help for the things I find most difficult, then that saves my energy to do the things I really WANT to do- and just let it go. For ex., your shopping trip: I don’t think anyone wakes up & thinks,”Man, I REALLY want to open some big heavy doors by myself today!” But- many times, the thought of going SHOPPING- esp. for new clothes & such, now that’s a goal! So, what good is it if you ‘accomplish’ all the in&out of doors, car, restroom etc. on your own, if you then are so weak/tired that you need help to SHOP?? What is more important?-is what it boiled down to. I’d rather pick out my own new underwear alone, than handle all the doors & such ‘by myself’! And, as already stated, most ‘strangers’ ARE more than happy to help; I think many ppl just hesitate to offer, out of not wanting to offend the person in the whch; most times, they’re simply waiting for a request- then they jump right in. I think most of ‘us’ just make too big a deal about it, in our own minds; just ask, then forget about it! I guess it comes down to deliberate energy conservation to protect your independence in MORE IMPORTANT areas- doors & stairs not being priorities in life!
I totally agree! Happy Holidays!
Your post gave me a flashback memory of my best friend (in a wheelchair) who said many years ago she had to look past her wheelchair and others would too. Her personality was noticed more than the wheelchair! I am glad you got out shopping and was assisted with those darn heavy doors! I know I was one to help anyone I saw struggling and it made me feel good. Now I need help sometimes.
That sounds like a great goal for me too. Look past my wheelchair. Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas to all. Great post. I have to TRY to do things. If I have trouble or just can’t do it THEN I ask for help. I may ask a member of my family or church, an acauaintace or a downright stranger. Your example of the bathroom door is a good one. I have trouble getting out. The door is heavy and it’s aukward to manuver. If someone (anyone) is there I’ll ask. Once out of the situation I don’t dwell on needing help. Just move on. Keep doing your best. You sound like you’re making the best that you can. Keep doing it. Happy holidays
Move on I will.
Though I only use a cane, I can relate to the reluctance of accepting help, though I’m doing better with that now. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that I am more tuned into helping others, too. Whenever I approach a door and I see an elderly woman approaching, too, I always open it for her to enter first, even if she is not using a walking aid.
I guess I take pride in maintaining etiquette while in public; as long as I can do these little things, I feel more connected to others. I imagine that people who help us feel much the same way.
I think you are right.
That is a statement that I ALWAYS here: “You don’t like for people to help you! You have got to let go of that pride!” Easier said than done. Even after years of needing help, I still try to do things that I know are a challenge for me! I guess one day I will give in………..
If you do I’ll share my wine with ya!
LOL! IMMA HOLD U TO THAT!!!!!!!!!
Shan, We’ll see!
I can relate to learning how to accept help — especially when you are used to being the one helping others. Check out the book Broken Open: How Difficulties Help You Grow by Elizabeth Lesser. It really gave me some things to consider about the path we are on with this MS experience! Happy Holidays and keep writing!
Linda, You must have a house full of books! Or do you do the Kindle thing?
Thanks for reading.
That’s how I feel when I do ask for help. I do feel really bad that I need help.
Claire, I know that one day I’ll end up hurting myself. I do it now (ask for help) more than ever. The good thing is it gets easier. Happy Holidays!
i know the feeling… i am having to raise 2 grand children and have drop foot really bad… i am really sad and hurt at myself because i can’t get the babies nothing so i ask for help and i get looked down on!?
Lesia, I bet the only person looking down on you is…you!
“when I allow others to help me, it brings out the best in both of us”
So true. Given that, I wonder why I still resist so mightily.
Sometimes I look at it like I’m actually helping them more!Happy Holidays!
Hey Nicole – Great post. Funny how often I’ve heard that term “new normal.” IT’s a tough one to get used to = whatever your new normal is. The point is – it’s new. Change is tough. Sounds like you’re doing well with it. Thanks for wanting to help others. Hope this helps you too. Merry Christmas!
YES! This helps me tremendously.For one it holds me accountable. I find myself remembering my own words and choosing healthier for all involved. You are right change is hard.Happy Holidays!
You made good points. I am too polite to refuse help from a stranger, but I always prefer to be left alone. I hate having attention drawn to the fact that I’m in a wheelchair. If I can get through doors without help, maybe people won’t notice the wheelchair.
The bigger issue, from my point of view, is the fact that I can’t just hop in the car and head to the store any time I get an inkling to do so. I need help getting in and out of the car, and getting my wheelchair in and out. I can drive OK, once I’m the car. Shopping trips with my husband are no fun at all, so I usually let him go alone. I no longer get to pick my own clothes or my own groceries. I take whatever my husband brings home, and say thank you. I try not to let frustration overwhelm me.
How do you get through doors without help? That’s the one thing I haven’t conquered. The car thing has taken me years to come to terms with. I’ll just say I’m a work in progress! Good for you for checking your frustration when he gets home. Man it sounds like we have a lot in common. Happy Holidays!
I’m with you girl, I too have such a hard time receiving let alone ASKING for help without feeling less for it. I think it’s that stubborn streak that just refuses to let go of ME. So well done you for getting to that place.
Atheana, Once I didn’t ask for help from my mother-in-law who was graciously staying with us while I was sick. I didn’t ask for help and spilled everything on the floor! She got on the floor and picked up my mess and then cleaned the carpet! I felt so bad. If I would have just asked for help the whole thing could have been prevented! I tend to ask more now. Happy Holidays!