Tagged with: awareness diagnosis disability Physical Activity wheelchair
A very interesting thing happened to me this week. My boss who was previously unaware of my condition approached me randomly at work to vent about her current workload. She spoke to me of taking some time off of work in two weeks to volunteer at a weekend MS camp to show her support for a 20 year old young man that she has thought of for years as an adopted son. She told me that this particular young man was diagnosed with MS at the very young age of 15, and is currently in a wheelchair.
She informed me that her husband was originally supposed to go with her and the young man to the camp, but because of certain circumstances her husband could not accompany her. I felt comfortable enough with her to share that I had MS and for me, being new to the area and not knowing many people and not knowing anyone anywhere with MS, I was quick to offer to tag along thinking that it would be a great opportunity for me. She put me in contact with the young man who immediately gave me the contact information for someone at the local MS Society. Well, I went to the local website and there was a video and a description of the camp. I was quick to learn more than I wanted to about the camp. The local chapter holds 3 MS camps per year. One camp is for children diagnosed with MS, another is for all levels of MS and their families, and the 3rd was a camp for strictly Progressive types of MS which so happened to be the camp that they were attending.
I immediately thought back to the conversation I had with the young man just a few hours previous to watching the video. The young man was describing the camp to me and describing how all the activities were “wheelchair friendly” and he questioned if I was in a wheelchair. Honestly, his question caught me by surprise and I was quick to respond with a firm “No.” Then, he proceeded to ask what my symptoms were. I described my symptoms and for some reason I began to feel guilty.
I felt guilty about my desire to go to a camp where I didn’t feel or appear as “sick” as the other individuals despite having the same diagnosis. I felt guilty that this young man who was 5 years younger than me is in a wheelchair and I am complaining of comparatively insignificant symptoms. I began to feel guilty knowing that deep down even if I see a person in their 50’s or 60’s who have progressive MS in a wheelchair; I immediately get a panic attack and close whatever it is I am looking at because I get terrified at the very thought that that could be me.
I reflected on my thoughts and the events of the day. Here I am, panicking about something that is not even definite for me while I just got done speaking to a young man that while on the phone seemed to be the most cheerful and outgoing person I’ve ever talked to, despite being in a wheelchair. Instead of feeling lucky or grateful to God that I am doing as well as I am; I found myself scared, terrified, and just plain ashamed.
Check back Wednesday May 18, 2011 to read more about the Ups and Downs of a Diagnosis.