I Frighten Children and Just Make Everyone Else Really Nervous…
There is nothing wrong with the way I look. I could be any child’s mother. The main difference is that I have a movement disorder from a long ago stroke so I limp and carry a cane. I think sometimes people have trouble reconciling why an otherwise attractive, young looking woman is carrying a cane. Children stare as if I look like quasimodo. Adults don’t usually stare as I’m sure most have seen people in a large age range carrying canes. But the kids can’t quite figure what the deal is. We usually fear what we don’t understand. I have had more than one toddler walk right up and take my cane in a restaurant or other setting where I’m seated such as a doctor’s office. They aren’t afraid of the cane which draws curiousity. It’s when I’m walking around that kids stare and try not to get in my way. I look like their mothers with a few striking differences when I’m in motion.
I find that most people really want to help me in any way they can whether it’s holding a door open or carrying my groceries and such for me. I know it is a tough judgment call for people to make as to whether to try to jump in and help or leave me to my own devices. I see that it makes people nervous to watch me struggle when they know they could quickly make things easier.
For instance, when I fly my seatmates can see that I only have use of my right hand. I see their discomfort at watching me use my teeth to help my right hand open packages of silverware, coffee creamers or snacks. They often hesitate to ask if I want help. I will generally accept help if someone offers in this situation.
If I drop something on the floor, people around me will usually swoop in to pick it up for me even though I am perfectly capable. I am known as a “fall risk” which is the medical term usually reserved for elderly people who are prone to fall. I get nervous when I see how nervous people around me feel because of my limitations.
On my last vacation I traveled on a group tour. We were on and off the tour bus every day. My fellow travelers often reached for my left hand to help because the spastic, uncontrollable action of my hand made it appear I was reaching for assistance. In fact, it is unhelpful when another tries to interact with that hand. The stimulation input sets off a reaction that further throws me off balance.
I often feel unsettled because it is so obvious to others that I could use some help. I know most people are unsure if it’s appropriate to offer to help. From my perspective, offering simple kindness is always a good idea. The trick is to graciously accept that maybe I want to try to be more independent. I do realize it’s generally impossible for people to accurately guage when they should jump in.
Thank you for reading:)