Quite often, the seriousness of my situation can be read on the faces of the people who are around me. Some of these people I know well, and others are complete strangers. I don’t necessarily mind these looks, and it’s not that they make me feel uncomfortable. But, I do sometimes think that I would much rather prefer smiles…although, that might be too much to ask for. Honestly, I don’t know what emotion is showing on my own face during moments like these, when I’m 100% focused on the task of putting one foot in front of another; of taking on step at a time – literally and metaphorically.
My world shrinks down to the essential, to what is absolutely required in my quest to keep walking forward…and everything else is blurred out. The faces of others, though, remain there…around the edges…around my central task…and while I’m not looking at them directly, I’m just a tad bit shocked by the messages that they seem to be sending me. At times like this, the challenges I face in moving become completely apparent to everyone around me, as indicated by the serious looks of concern on their faces, and by their unrestrained (and appreciated) offers of help. I’m trying to not focus in on my struggle, but there is it, mirrored back at me–twice–in everyone’s eyes.
And I start to wonder, am I pushing myself too hard…am I doing too much? My goodness, it’s only Monday morning…and all I’m trying to do is go to physical therapy, I answer to myself.
There’s the look of concern from my partner, as he walks me to do door as I leave the house…and knows, but doesn’t want to ask, if I’m having a harder morning than usual.. There’s the look of concern from the taxi driver, who rushes to turn around and open the back door, as he sees me slowly approaching the vehicle. There’s the look of the building doorman, who always welcomes me with a hefty ‘Good Day’ and a great big smile…he knows which office I’m going to, but not much more. (He’s probably confused as heck, as he tries to figure out why sometimes I walk so well, and other times I can barely walk.)
There’s the look of concern from the lady walking next to me–a complete stranger–who asks if I need any help carrying my backpack. I try to tell her that I am okay, and she doesn’t seem convinced…but she eventually moves on. (Yes, I would love to have someone carry my backpack, I think to myself…but it’s not worth the pain and struggle right now of actually having to remove it from my shoulders.) And then, I finally reach my destination, and walk though the door. There are about five people in the room…and while a majority of them are not trained in physical therapy themselves, they all know enough to figure out that I’m facing quite a challenge.
And as I step into my room to change, the tears start to flow…not because of the next challenge, of having to undress myself, of having to undo what took so much effort to complete just a few minutes earlier before I left my house. These tears are flowing because I’m happy. I made it! The journey–from my bed to my front door to the taxi cab to the building’s front door to the office’s front door and finally to my physical therapy room–suddenly felt like one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. Each and every step was a sign of success; a reminder of the need to keep moving forward.
Yes,the start of my day certainly was a morning of struggle, as evidenced by the looks of concern that I received from everyone who crossed my path…but, it was also a morning full of hundreds of little victories. If I had this many victories in an hour, how many could I possibly have in a day…or a week…or a month…or a year? I can’t give myself an answer right now, but I’m certainly going to try to find out!
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!