I have a new man in my life.
It is likely that in the coming days (weeks? months???) if you spend any time with me, you will meet this new person. We are quickly becoming inseparable.
His name is Greg and he is in this picture: http://i.ehow.com/images/GlobalPhoto/Articles/5057171/209482-main_Full.jpg
No, it's not Omar Epps, or Dr. Chase, or even Robert Sean Leonard. And sadly, it's not Dr. House either. See that awesome cane with FLAMES on it? That's Greg. I have named him Greg because 1) I name pretty much all inanimate objects; and 2) because Dr. House's first name is Greg.
So Friday was a big day in Greg's life. He made his debut at Oglethorpe University. I had no idea what would happen, what people would do or say. Would they stare? Would they look away too quickly? Would they notice or not notice? Would I have to answer a bunch of questions and tell person after person, "I have MS." It's also a pride issue. I am former dancer that used to have a gorgeous triple pirouette and, at present, I require the use of a cane to walk to my classes without falling directly on my face. Not knowing what to expect from my fellow students and professors just adds to the potential humiliation. But here are the day's highlights:
8:45 a.m.: Arrive at school, park car. Greg and I walk slowly and carefully to the building. I realize that between holding my bag, my cup of tea and Greg holding me, I am left with no free hands to open the door. A young man comes up and opens the door for me. As he follows me up the stairs he says, "Nice cane. I like the flames." Score one for Greg.
8:50 a.m.: Arrive in my French 201 classroom. My French professor has recently been informed by me, via email, that I have MS and am currently fighting the Relapse From Hell. (And I will preface this by saying that this professor and I get along really well AND we are both extremely sarcastic!) As I enter the classroom, he sees me and starts nodding his head in approval and says, "Whassup, Cripple!" Now, I hope no one finds this too offensive, but the "cripple" found it utterly hysterical...then again both our senses of humor are a bit twisted. He, too, comments on my cane and says it is "bad-ass." Score two for Greg.
9:55 a.m.: Two more young male students pass me in the hall and say, "Nice cane. Like Dr. House," and "Sweet cane." A student who was in a class with me last semester sees me and runs over to see if I am "okay." I have to tell her I have MS, that it isn't playing nice and that if I have to use a cane that it "had better be a badass one." She responds, "Caroline, you're so awesome." Score three, four and five for Greg.
10:50 a.m.: Drive to building for next class, get the good handicap parking spot. I get close to the classroom door. A group of students is somewhat near my classroom. One of the students notices me, he stops his conversation, and without saying anything to me, politely walks over and opens my classroom door for me (I realize there is a chance he thought I was a teacher....a disabled teacher at that, and so opened he door for me out of fear/respect!); however, perhaps he just realized it would be a nice thing to do. Six points for Greg!
While all these little things might not seem like much, for a woman who prides herself on being independent and never imagined herself needing help walking at age 30, these small gestures meant the world to me. Every compliment made me feel safe and accepted when I needed it most. It was a day filled with extreme physical and emotional pain, not to mention feeling defeated and insecure and all these people at OU (most of them strangers!) made me feel that I wasn't a freak or disabled or defeated, but that I was just a girl with a kickass-looking cane.
PS - Starting an IVIG infusion today in hopes that it might get this horrible relapse under control. Will be hooked up to tubes 4 hours a day for 5 days - aren't you jealous? Haha. Cross your fingers that this works...because if it doesn't, I am going to have to start investing in more canes. And let's face it, they are really a kind of accessory, and you know I can't have canes that don't go with all my outfits!!