I’m all about teachable moments. I can almost always see an opportunity approaching when I see someone sizing me up, watching me scoot across the path in front of them.
Today, I saw a woman with her dog in front of me as I exited the grocery store. Her dog was blocking my way so she had to pull him along so I could pass. I could feel her question coming as soon as I went along a few feet in front of her on my mobility scooter.
When someone asks me where I’ve purchased my scooter, they’re usually asking for their elderly mother or father and the next question is usually along the lines of “do you have a foot problem?” My answer is yes, but that’s not always where interested people stop asking about my so called “foot problem.”
The next question someone usually asks is “when can you walk again?”
About two years ago, I would have frozen in place. I would’ve not known how to answer and probably would’ve mumbled some answer and would have been on my way frustrated and on the verge of tears.
But years have passed and I’m getting more and more comfortable with answering the many sometimes nosy, but usually sincere questions that I receive. I told her that I wouldn’t be able to walk again and that I had muscular dystrophy. She thought that children usually got it when they were very young, and while that is sometimes the case, people can start to show signs of it when they’re in their 20s.
Just a few years ago these types of interactions would’ve made my heart start racing and my anxiety would’ve skyrocketed immediately. I used to be so embarrassed to explain what was “wrong” with me, but I find that being embarrassed and letting my anxiety get the best of me are not the way to express to someone what I’m going through or how I feel. Telling them the facts about a muscle disorder that many people don’t know much about will help get the information out and get more people informed.
While it’s not always comfortable to explain to someone why I need a mobility scooter, I think that getting more and more people aware of this muscle disorder won’t make it so shocking to people when they see me out scooting around.
As we parted ways, the woman said, “our bodies are only here with us for a short time, but happiness is within.”
Her comment made me smile because that is so very very true 🙂