November 28, 2009
Sometimes, the animal kingdom gets it right. I have (as previously mentioned) eight felines and not one of them is especially sensitive to their shortcomings, flaws or quirks. They just blast through life in that self-important way of theirs, untroubled by such things as leaking eyes, crooked tails or extra toes. We have unapologetic 'velcro' kitties (the ones that cling), unabashed schizophrenic ones (the ones that fear their own whiskers) and carefree adventures (the bombastic ones who won't stay out of the basement). They don't mind being different, odd or even mildly insane. They just are.
We're all a bit sensitive. Go on, admit it. What are you sensitive about? My list includes small... shall we say... bosoms, utter lack of vertical reach and a spine laid out in such a way as to resemble a blind man's doodling. But I have arrived at such an age that these things have been relegated to the bin of 'minor inconveniences.' I know they're there but acceptance is two parts reality and one part dementia. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, I remember.
I have developed an allergy. One might say I'm allergic to a stick. Or not the stick so much as its existence. Or not so much its existence as the documented proof thereof. Confused? Good.
My problem is thus: I have, sometimes-sporadically-occasionally, required the use of a cane to remain mobile. I know... shocking. MS is a funny thing, letting me tell it just how invincible I am while plotting to cut my legs from under me without warning. Sensitive about MS? Not at all. As anyone with the disease will attest, the MonSter isn't interested in such novel things as pride and therefore sensitivity is fairly short-lived.
In truth, I don't truly mind the cane anymore. When I need it, which isn't often yet, I can endure the stares from people who see a young person stealing the accessories of a senior citizen. I can manage under the constant "Can I help you?" when I'm trying to reach the Fiber One cereal. I can even laugh off the people who walk right past me (and practically over me) when I fall. The one thing I strive to avoid in all that is photographic evidence of my stick.
Yup, that's the allergy. I cannot tolerate having my picture taken while holding the dastardly thing. Something about committing its likeness to glossy paper bugs the all-loving crap outta me. When I was in Williamsburg VA this summer, I needed the dreaded thing to maintain forward momentum and made darn sure the cane was ten feet away from any photo op. My friend looked at me like I'd sprouted mold whenever I threw the wretched thing halfway across the state so she could snap a shot of me. Recently, my oldest niece and I went to a nature center and once again, the stick was a balance saver. But she got a picture of me with the cane and I had to refrain from tossing her camera into the lake. That would be impolite.
I suppose humans are wired for denial, particularly regarding things society considers weakness; mental disease, addictions, physical imperfection and everything in between that can't be squeezed into the cookie cutter. Not having a picture of the cane doesn't change its presence in my trunk. Not having a picture doesn't mean it won't be there next time I need it. It should be a badge of courage, a sign that while something within me wants to defeat me, I have chosen not to let it. At least I could go to Williamsburg and the nature center and countless Walmart trips that have involved the stick. The pictures just prove I was living, not sobbing at home for a disease I cannot change. MS would like me to do that but my Mommy taught me to be defiant.
And anyway, it's one of the few weapons that is legal to carry!