Life’s limiting limitations…

pic 1 reachEveryone has things they cannot do like, maybe you do not have the skills to cook and only have the ability to boil water. Possibly you do not have the talent to write a poem and barely can write a birthday card. However, most times in life you can learn those things by having someone show you or you can read how-to books. Depending on the skills you are looking for, you could take a class or even find instructional books at the library.

However, when someone with multiple sclerosis loses any ability, it has a negative long term impact. This loss could be permanent, or it could return significantly weakened, making life again a little more challenging. Many MSers deal with this terrible degradation that routinely has significant impacts on our lives. These possibly permanent problems could be ambulation related and introduce us to canes, walkers, and manual or power wheelchairs.

pic 2 stepsOne of the most challenging things for me since the introduction to MS my permanent nemesis is asking for help. I know that most people with multiple sclerosis hate asking for help because it makes us feel weak and indolent. There are things that I cannot do in my house to live life and keep a clean and welcoming home. I have fought physically to change my sheets and make my bed clean, comfortable, and cozy. This mission has been unsuccessful, requiring me to find assistance from someone on a routine basis for many household duties.

Ten years ago, I searched for weeks to find assistance programs that would help me with my cleaning concerns. Many agencies cater to the elderly and disabled and help with laundry and various housekeeping tasks. Ten years ago, when I was at my poorest, I got prices and found them on average twenty-five dollars an hour. They were made even more expensive because they had a three-hour minimum, causing a monthly cost of one hundred and fifty dollars.

pix 3 home aidSeven years ago, I began looking for a much lower cost, if not a free option. I thought I would have a quiet and quick quest, but it seemed endless as my list of conditions made for a slow hunt. I was beginning to have difficulty getting my laundry and myself up and down the slightly steep steps of my basement. This issue added one more task that needed to be done again, making my pursuit a bit more challenging. My search lasted hours each day and ended successfully after several long weeks.

I finally discovered a church from town that had an outreach program aimed to help in that capacity. This program assists the elderly and disabled with light housekeeping and other tasks to help those individuals stay at home. It took approximately three weeks to connect everyone involved and have my initial meeting at my house. This visit was when I met Shakira, and we began our long term friendship that has now lasted over seven years.

PIC 4 COTA BUSWhen Shakira started working for me, she took the city bus for one hour to my home and one hour to return home. Her trip home was after working at my house for four hours, making an exhausting six-hour day for her. Her dedication to me and the job was more apparent when three months after starting, she moved even further from me. Her new place made a one-hour bus ride become a one-way two-hour sojourn that made me think her help would end. This new eight hour day was done once every two weeks rain or shine snow or hail, proving Shakira had a strong work ethic unlike many.

Shakira went through a time when she shared a car meaning only sometimes would she take the bus. Now this wonderful woman has a car of her own and continued working with me when I moved nearly ten miles away. She is extremely trustworthy and has become indispensable and at times, works at my home when I could not be there.

She helps in a variety of ways, from laundry to making my bed to dusting, four hours per visit. Shakira also runs the sweeper, cleans bathrooms, or any other tasks that needs done. Occasionally I have been so exhausted from MS life that I have even asked her to put my groceries away. However, I try to do as many things myself that I can to prove to myself and the world that I am not indolent.

last picEveryone needs a little help sometimes even though asking for help is harder than jumping the Grand Canyon on a ten-speed. The people who do these types of jobs are some of the great unsung heroes in life and get paid very little. These individuals help keep their clients, or in some cases, friends lives in good working order. Without this assistance, our lives could easily fall into the dark ages and become a cluttered, disorganized pigsty.

If you need help, just ask.

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