Have a cuppa with MS: raise awareness, get support
Ever since my wife Caryn and I settled into our new home in a small town in the wilds of West Kerry, we’ve been enveloped in a different way of life. I admit that the Ireland we shifted to in our heads is the country thirty of forty years back.
We don’t have a car, I don’t have a mobile phone. We unplugged our TV in order to move it across the room last December… and never plugged it back in. I wear tweed jackets, a wool cloth-cap and – due to my MS mobility issues - use a hazelwood stick when I walk our dog.
And people here “call-in” for a cuppa.
Talking over tea
Coming from the “I’ll take that to go” Seattle culture, this concept of clicking on the kettle, scalding the pot, and sitting at the kitchen table seems so very important.
I suspect that we’re enigmatic and a curiosity to our neighbors – a couple of middle-aged Yanks moving to a small town on the edge of the North Atlantic – but substantive conversations can happen over a cup and a slice of brack.
In my former city, everyone seemed to be one-degree separated from MS by at least knowing someone who knew someone with the condition. But MS isn’t very familiar to our new neighbors. By the time the kettle clicks over the second time – because a cuppa is really a euphemism – the topic of why I use a cane (or a crutch on a rough day) usually brings us around to MS.
On the most difficult of days, I’ll find myself brewing a single cup and sitting in front of my computer to look to blogs and social media sites (often about MS). There is a community there. There is a community here on the MS Society’s blog, and Facebook page, and so many other places.
When I started my Life With MS blog nearly eight years ago, I had no idea that such a supportive, attentive and informed community of ‘friends’ could be started and maintained online.
When getting out of the house to meet a new friend or having someone in for a good old chinwag is beyond my limited energy resources and parsimony becomes the order of the day, an online cuppa with readers like you can make a dark day brighter. In fact, when I look at the conversations and support offered among followers of my Life with MS facebook page, I find people I wish I could actually sit down with for a cup… or a pint!
Raising awareness and getting support
So, as a transplant to a place where MS is less known, less understood and thus less accepted than I’m used to (I was actually called a “potential burden to society” by a government official recently), the simple act of talking about it with people over a friendly cuppa has opened a few eyes - and maybe a few hearts – to our cause.
And, when the cold hand of multiple sclerosis makes getting out in the world difficult, I’ll put the kettle on and hope that we might find one another somewhere online. I’m ‘a milk and 1 sugar’, please… and I wouldn’t say no to a HobNob, either.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.