Us with MS – How Do People See Us?
Years before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the administrator at my job assumed one day that I had been drinking or that I was on something. My balance was a little off and I bumped into a wall right in front of her. I didn’t think anything of it because I had a tendency to be a little wobbly at times. She didn’t say anything to me and she gave no real indication that she even noticed. Strangely, the very next day I had to take a random drug test. Coincidence? I think not.
Thinking about that incident and her perspective of me made me begin to wonder what others see when they look at me or anyone else with MS.
From my perspective, there are more empathetic people in the world than not. Many people are kind to me. They open doors, make eye contact, or ask if they can do anything to help.
When I experience such kindness, it brightens my day and makes me feel good about the world I live in. I feel connected and respected. Most people I come into contact with look through the empathetic eyes of their experiences or the eyes of someone they know.
Some like to share that they have been in my shoes because of broken bones or surgeries. They can relate to being in the wheelchair or using a walker. They are curious about my story and when I tell them I have primary progressive multiple sclerosis their eyes show a deep compassion.
Epathetic or indifferent
Of course there is an opposite side to empathetic people — the indifferent ones that cannot relate to my situation at all.
Maybe they haven’t ever experienced health issues or haven’t been around anyone who has struggles. As long as they are not mean or rude, their reaction can be understandable.
Mainly it’s in the grocery store that I find most people who fall into the latter category.
They are busy and hurrying so fast that they run circles around me, literally. It’s easy to feel I am in some kind of high-speed NASCAR race. They have to get in front of me no matter what, it seems. Even if it means they have to slide through a space too narrow to accommodate them.
I must say, it is interesting to watch people act impatiently. I know we live in a busy world with so much to do. Then when someone moves a little bit slower and throws off the rhythm, it can send some people into panic mode. I try to get out of the way and let them by. I know it’s not easy to be stuck behind someone slow when you are healthy and moving along at a certain pace. I just hope they are thankful and never take their health for granted.
What I have concluded from my own experiences is that everyone views life through their own reality. Whatever a person has experienced colors how they see the world. The only true reason why other people’s perceptions of us matter, is because the way they see us impacts how we are treated. We, the people with disabilities, have feelings and ideas. We should be treated just like anyone else — with respect.
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