Dear people, be kind and stop judging others' disabilities.
Updated: Oct 16, 2021
My corner of the world deals with Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, and a disabled pug. My pug Buddy, had some significant disabilities. He had a crooked spine, hip arthritis, and drop feet on both sides. He tried every day to get out with me and sprinkle the neighborhood weeds. I had many comments over the last few weeks about how badly he walked, I felt shamed for taking him out. As I tried to politely rebut these comments, I became more and more offended. Why can’t people just be kind and offer positive comments. Sure my dog is disabled but he keeps trying. Can we keep the focus on his abilities and not his disabilities? Move it or lose it! Functional exercise and stimulation are important! Dare I go on?
I think MS is like that sometimes. People don’t always see the disability and when they do they feel like it’s their duty to comment and offer suggestions. The longer or harder I walk the more times I might catch my left toe, or start to walk with stiff legs when my spasticity creeps up. The tone in my legs can increase and I need to stop and stretch just so I don’t trip and fly into the bushes. Like Buddy, at least I got out and tried to keep moving. It may look funny but I did it.
I also think MS fatigue is tough for others to understand. This is a disability you may not see. We sometimes hide away, nap, and watch Netflix. Somedays, I am so exhausted, it makes me nauseous and all I can do is hit the couch. Lucky for me my pug was right there beside me taking the blame for any snoring that occurred. And, lucky for me I have understanding friends and family that get when I need to reschedule plans.
We need to continue to be kind, and empathetic to one another. You haven’t walked in their shoes and understand what hurdles must be met with everyday just to get out the door. Please consider that some of us have physical disabilities we can see, and sometimes they are disabilities that we can’t see.
I have accepted that sometimes it okay to have a duvet day, and sometimes you just have to get out and move regardless of others well-meaning comments. Move it or lose it! Or my new favorite I read somewhere, use it, to improve it!
By Michelle Tyler, PT
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