Sticking to it.

My dizziness has seriously improved. Dr. Verter comes through yet again. So, I have a much better position on the earth… not completely stable…but one that is far more secure than I began 2008 with. I’m not sure how soon after I left his office that things really kicked in for me. It’s a subtle and gradual process that has left me feeling completely different..in inexplicable ways.

So I began to reconsider my trusty stick. Do I still need it? My balance is by no means perfect, but that has always been the case. So I did some tests without it. Rode the subways…slowly walked up the stairs sans stick, and I realized what I think I already knew. The stick is an important announcement and a reminder. For the prior…the world at large is the audience and for the latter the target is me.

It has been a significant help to make my invisible condition..disease…identity (what is the right word here?) present…apparent… evident. People rise to the occasion in ways that I didn’t expect. Be it a subway seat or holding an elevator… In many ways it let’s the societal cream rise to the proverbial top. There is a lot of good out there and if people are given the opportunity, they crack open the solitude of commuter stance to reveal the person behind the mask. I hadn’t realized how much power there is there. It makes me feel good about the people I’m sharing the planet with.

Then of course there is a certain level of empowerment in taking charge. I thought that by using this walking assistant I was admitting defeat. Not consciously of course, but on a deep emotional level. As if I was making a statement to the world that MS has me in some way. What happened was really quite the opposite. The stick has given me power. The power to bring out the best…and the confidence that I can walk farther and faster without kissing the sidewalk.

There is also the reminder I aforementioned. It reminds me that I’m not the same. That I do need to take special considerations. That I need to slow things down and be more concerted in my efforts. And although I only use the stick commuting in and out of my building at NYU it has encouraged many conversations with people about Multiple Sclerosis. People who I’ve worked with for almost 5 years that had no way of knowing.

A common response for so many people is “Oh, you must have a mild case that doesn’t affect you then”. To which I explain, My symptoms are every day, all the time- it’s just that they are invisible. Sometimes I say more, sometimes less…but everytime I feel as though I’m educating one more person about the many faces of this disease. Adding to the list of people they know with MS, hopefully making it easier for the next person they come in contact with.

This walking stick is as so many things. I’m not sure I’ll ever give it up. I think I’m starting to love it.

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