Pooldad took me to our favorite restaurant tonight and I had two experiences that made me cry.
One of the reasons I don't go out is I don't walk well. Simple fact. I don't look crippled or disabled or incapcitated. I stand upright, no wheelchair or cane, but I limp slowly because otherwise it hurts too much, therefore, it is best I stay home. We thought I could handle "our" restaurant.
We did. It was the other patrons that brought tears to my eyes tonight.
Scene one: I had to use the ladies' room. As familiar as I am with this particular restaurant I knew once Pooldad helped me up out of the booth I could "palm" my way to the bathroom; meaning there was enough wood, railing, excess molding that I could hold myself and not require him to take me. That is important. The hall to the ladies' bathroom is quite long but has a lovely chair rail that I could hold onto while I made my way. So I did.
When I finally reached the door to the bathroom I realized there was another lady behind me. And she had been behind me the whole length of the hallway. She could have passed me and gone on, but she waited behind me. When I tried to push the door open I was surprised I didn't have the strength without being really obvious with two hands [a huge shove kind of thing you don't want to do in public]. I turned around and apologized. She looked at me and said "No problem" and held the door for me. But? She wasn't accomodating, she wasn't pitying me. She was kind and nice. Does that make sense? She looked at me, as if "I get it, go on." She allowed me in first and we went about our business.
Tadpoles? Y'all will never know how much she did for me .
Scene two: Leaving the restaurant. I absolutely had to hold on to Pooldad to walk when I didn't have the booth tops, molding, chair rail to hold on to and by this time my legs were giving out. [Side note: I take very small steps to compensate for the pain. Smaller the step, smaller the pain - Think the Skippy Shuffle!]. As we came to the front of the restaurant we were met by double doors, a foyer and double doors again to the outside. A family with 4 adults and 6 children were approaching as we were exiting the first set of doors.
The parents noticed Pooldad and me coming out and held back. They instructed two of their older children to "please hold the doors" for us and kept everyone clear so I wouldn't be jostled.
The politeness and courtesy I experienced from that extended family made me cry again.
The thing y'all have to understand is I don't look incapcitated and I don't want to. My body can only allow me so much. I don't want to be thought of as handicapped. I want to be me. I want to be Skippy. I want to be the ME that I know. Not the Skippy that is trapped inside something I can no longer fix and now I have to aclimate.
It was a huge step to go out tonight. It is often embarrassing to limp and take small steps in front of strangers. They do stare and they point and make comments. I am young, but I walk as if I am old. It is ineffective to try to cover up the "butterfly effect" with makeup...but for people to look at me and see past all that and [perhaps] realize I am doing my best? And be polite and kind? WITHOUT pity?