So whit’s support? It can come in many forms, but one of them for me is the support o’ people who ‘get it’.
I enjoyed my Monday with the Oot to Lunch Bunch ‘Circle of Friends'. This is a mixture o’ women: different ages, backgrounds an circumstances, but wi one thing in common. We are a’ living with MS.
It’s no a support group as such, just a bunch o’ women who like a good gossip about everythin under the sun. We meet once a month in Cumbernauld. It’s no always the same ones every time, but there are always enough o’ us for a good old gab. What could be better: a good inexpensive lunch, nae dishes to wash, and a good laugh.
Subjects covered are many and often a cause for hilarity, includin MS. We can say things that we maybe wouldny say to other friends, we’ve laughed about fallin over, scooter drivin, wheelchair usage, even bowel and bladder problems while enjoyin oor food!
We’ve a’ delivered anecdotes about bein treated differently. Ma latest was about bein on holiday and shoppin in a gift shop. The wumman behind the till somehow thought it was okay to ask, “what have you done to yourself?” in that head tilted way people talk to weans. Noo, at 55 I’m nae wean, but I played along and told her I have MS.
I was then regaled with a long story in great detail about someone she knew who had a catheter but still went to the pub for a pint but had to drink it wi a straw then they had to empty his leg bag. Why would she think I needed that information? How was I supposed to react?
Anyway the point is that we all laughed about it, and came up wi loads o’ answers I could’ve used, including whippin up my trouser leg to show a full bag. Noo that woulda been really funny, especially if I fell off my crutches doin it.
Where else could I have had that conversation without meetin wi’ horror or pity? Who else would have “got it” unless they’ve been in the same boat? Each one in that group coulda come up wi a similar story, an a few o’ them did! There was nae cloyin sympathy, just an understandin of the ridiculous way some people behave and really truly believe they’re bein nice to the poor disabled wumman!
So that’s support, a safe place where you can tell friends somethin and they 'get it', no explanation necessary. A place where you can let off steam about the frustrations o’ your situation and you’re no judged, they have the same frustrations. They’re just there for you, and you for them!
Illustration by our lovely volunteer, Elfreda Crehan