Let's call him Fred - the guy who sees me for leg braces which help me walk. I went to see him today because my PT thinks if I have a minor brace on the left, it would help. So off I went, to Fred's office, in the middle of Denver. It was 80+ degrees and the AC in his office didn't work. He was late, so I sat outside in the shade, people-watching - it's near a bus stop. In the middle of all the traffic and noise, a beautiful monarch butterfly flew effortlessly over it all - amidst the chaos, there was beauty, gracefully floating through the air.
Fred has his own brace business which he has owned for over 20 years and he knows a lot. But Fred doesn't have a disability. Fred thinks he is helpful. He is, in some ways. He knows anatomy! But I don't think he has ever asked for opinions on things, which can be just as valuable. If you want to really feel like you have a disability, Fred is your guy. To give him credit, he's trying to make life easier for people. But people are individuals. So here was the encounter we had. In parentheses is what I thought I should have said, later. I think I was tongue-tied at the time.
"Well, we have basically 2 choices, or do nothing. Now here is how you walk, so I know you are stable because you are bent over and that is how you extend your knee." Then he explained the choices - one helps lift the toes just a little while the other one lifts the toes a ton but causes the knee to give.
"But when you walk... well, let's not say it's laborious, but you expend a lot more energy than anyone else walking." Yes, I said, I burn calories! I smiled. "Yes, that's probably part of why you stay so thin." (Whatever - the new medicine means I'm not very hungry, but Fred, do you even know about the new medicine? When I talk about it, are you even listening?)...
... more explanation of various things ...
"You know Beth, I'm reading this book. Well, think of this. Some people get cancer and they decide to forgo chemo and make the most of life." I was wondering where this was going...
(Fred, first, for people with cancer, it's their choice and maybe the ones who do chemo make the most of life as well! But you're comparing that somehow to my desire to walk. You think I would enjoy life more if I gave up walking. You don't know me at all. I now realize that. To me, perhaps happiness is not doing the easiest thing, taking the easiest route. You see, I love walking. I love standing. I love feeling that I have leg muscles that work, even if it's not the same as yours. Others may love using a wheelchair. If I have a distance to go, sometimes I do, too. But happiness to me is standing. Happiness to me is walking, no matter how it looks or how slow it is. I really don't care if you approve or not. I am here about a brace.)
Things now get even more philosophical - who knew religious discussions occur at these appointments!!!
"Now Beth, I love life. But I can't wait to die."
(What?!! the... the... brace?)
"You see there are 3 important things to me. 1. God. 2. Helping others. 3. Eternity."
"You see, I know all kinds of bad things happen to people but those things are what make their lives better."
(Wait - so you think having MS makes my life better? Ummm... no. I'm sorry. It doesn't. I'd rather be walking or running. You don't know any of this because you don't have a disability!)
"If you hand things over to God, God will guide you. You see, it's not about looking in the mirror at yourself. It's about looking to God. God will show you where to go and God will help you."
(Fred, what the heck? God is with me always, but he hasn't given me an instruction book. God helps me by being there and by listening. I think God wishes I would spend more time focusing on letting him listen)
At this point I told Fred that God may not give instructions always, but once God did enter my life and told me I needed help and held me when I was deeply depressed. I don't think that's ever happened to Fred.
After a bit more, Fred got back on track and I told him I'd let him know which way I wanted to go.
I'm getting the more basic option and can order it myself.
I don't think I'll go to Fred again, but if I do, I'll take a friend!