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Sunday, August 19, 2012


Taking the next step and asking for help.  I read a post* about the first, and it started me thinking about the second.

The author of the post was writing about feeling afraid but doing it anyway.

She stood at the top of an escalator, the neck brace she was wearing making her nervous about safely navigating the moving stairs.  She stood "paralyzed" for the seconds that always feel like forever.  Finally she convinced herself to make her move.

She got on, and off, without anything bad happening.  Taking that gigantic first step, putting her foot out onto something that seemed so dangerous (and well could have been given the neck brace) took a tremendous amount of courage.

It is scary to take a leap or at times even a small step.   It took courage for her to do it. 

Sometimes asking for help is taking the next or first step.  Not gargantuan decision next steps, like getting therapy, or agreeing to new meds or surgery.  No, I am talking about help for getting through the simple things in life.

I used to think the two were mutually exclusive.    If I take that first step, or next step, it is on me.  It is a sign of independence, an action that says, "I CAN do it myself."

I have gotten to the point where I can say to people, "May I sit in that seat?" when we go to a restaurant, as long as I feel I know them pretty well.  I have even gotten brave enough to say after we are seated, at least some of the time, "Oh I'm sorry.  This is not a good seat for me."  Immediately people rise and say "We'll wait 'til you figure it out."  If people care about you, or are decent they are not going to laugh in your face, argue with you, "I'm sure it is not that big a problem if the sun comes directly into your eyes." or refuse.  They want to help, to make you feel comfortable so everyone can enjoy themselves.

I went to lunch last Sunday.  I arrived late, and the people we were to meet were sitting where I would have chosen to sit, facing away from the window.  They are elderly, the wife using a cane.  I was not going to ask to change seats, in that case, it was taking the step of not being comfortable, their comfort more important.

When I went to lunch the other day with someone I did not know that well I was astounded when he asked, "Which is the better seat for you?"  The question was an awareness that he knew the situation and had concern for my welfare.  I was not aware of his knowledge, it was a sign he listened to me when I spoke, watched when I was comfortable, noticed when I was not.

Picking the seat  has become my euphemism for other's comfort with me, and my comfort with them.  It is a wonderful feeling when it happens, a next step well worth taking.



  1. I like that - picking your seat. Does it work even when you don't have the neck brace on? Or do you command the respect anyway?

    I am also a chronic pain patient. 22 yrs now. I don't wear a neck brace, and even doctors have trouble seeing past the surface. I have systemic lupus, diabetes, PN, TN and other cranial neuropathies, connective tissue disorders. I usually look fine for the most part.

    Nice to meet you Carol, I'm Julie.

  2. Thanks Julie Jo, it was someone else with the neckbrace, who took the next step despite her fear. With the neckbrace on I dont know that I would have braved an escalator. (:
    It is a catch 22 of chronic pain, that we rarely show evidence of the pain, often not even on x-rays etc which does confound more then a few it seems, of the medical community.
    Nice to meet you too, Glad you found the blog, and that you took the time to post.