When I went in for a foot surgery I never thought it would have had the impact it did on my life. I expected the days after the surgery to be rough, and I was totally prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared for the following six weeks during my recovery period, and how during that time there was a transformation in me that greatly altered my perspective of people with physical challenges.
Going anywhere was difficult, even going upstairs in my house was an exhausting undertaking. I am an extremely independent person, and I didn’t want anyone to help me, or do anything for me. I believed I could do this on my own. Another feeling I didn’t expect to experience was that of shame. I didn’t like the feeling of feeling embarrassed by my physical state. I remember the first time I left my house was when I went to my doctor for a check on my foot. As I entered my doctor’s office building, someone who worked there approached me. He asked me if I needed assistance. I wanted to say so badly, “Why yes I do!” But, instead I formed a smile on my face and said, “No thanks, I’m fine.” Looking back, I realize now I should have let others help me but my ego got in the way.
I remember a day in particular I will never forget because it changed the way I thought forever. I was still in charge of my household of six people. My husband and four children depended on me to take care of them. We were completely out of food and I needed to venture out to the grocery store. I went to a store that I knew had motorized carts to assist me with this challenge. I crutched into the store, and my arms were aching from the crutches rubbing against the blisters under my arms. I finally arrived to my transport and figured out how to get it going. As soon as I took off, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of embarrassment. I felt awkward, ashamed and weak. I felt like everyone was staring at me. I didn’t like the feeling at all. I struggled through the store and selected what I needed. When I arrived at checkout, an employee approached me and asked if I needed help. “No, thank you,” quickly came to mind, but I swallowed my pride and reluctantly accepted the much needed assistance. It was so difficult! I was never the same after that moment.
Time has passed and I have not only come to realize my foot will never be the same, but I have also learned that as easy as it has always been for me to offer help to those seemingly in need, I also now better understand when and if they ever refuse.