May I Help You?

In 2013 I received a diagnosis of a rare movement disorder known as primary orthostatic tremor which affects your legs only upon standing. The tremors stop as soon as you begin to walk or sit, and I was determined that life would continue as always. As long as I did not attempt to stand still in place I could still carry on activities as usual ... or so I assumed.

I wanted to remain independent

I was determined to remain independent and maintain my dignity and I never wanted to rely on the help of strangers. Best laid plans don’t always work to our advantage as I learned the first time I had to wait on line in the grocery store on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

My legs began shaking so rapidly that I had to get out of line and circle the store until I found a place where I could sit and and get control. I sat there until there was an opening where I could be first in line and managed to check out and get to my car with a minimum of difficulty. Mission accomplished ... or so I thought.

The first time I accepted help

Once I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years later in 2002, circumstances changed rapidly. I could no longer carry on as though I was in control under all circumstances. I still felt the need for independence and did not want to rely on anyone for assistance. It made me feel less-than and not complete.

The first time I had to accept help was when the door to a handicapped restroom stall opened backwards and I could not maneuver my wheelchair to enter. An older woman very gently asked, "May I help?" I realized I had no other choice other than to accept or stay trapped.

When I accepted her assistance a lovely smile appeared on her face and she thanked me for allowing her to get me soap, a towel, and back to my table. She told me that nothing made her happier than being able to help those in need as she had a relative with mobility problems.

What a huge wake up call that was for me. I realized that people would not offer to help if they didn’t choose to and I was being selfish by denying them that opportunity. I have always been the first to offer assistance to others, so why was I so reluctant to accept it?

Overcoming my pride

Pride has no place in my attitude any longer. I used to dread the words, "May I help?" Now I welcome them. In allowing others to assist, no matter how large or small the help, I am providing them an opportunity to feel good about themselves and have made some incredible new friends along the way.

I feel as if my speaking out for what Parkinson’s disease involves is stronger than ever, which will always be a goal. I will always be the one to ask, "May I help?" As the Dalai Lama said, "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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