When I was raising my girl's, as a single mom with ALS, I had to learn fast on my feet. Don't show them fear, don't make them do too much, continue life as if normal and deal with being stared at. I dealt with it all to the best of my ability for 13yrs. My oldest, Michelle, however has quite a temper and is very protective. If anyone stared or god forbid took a disable seat at the movies, she'd find a way to make everyone squirm. This started at about nine years old and continues at twenty five. I tried to explain why it happens and that it doesn't bother me but she never faltered. I saw it as curiosity and ignorance, but they were strangers. I did not look "disabled" back then, I was still somewhat attractive and I was young. Shoot, I'd stare too.
Fast forward 10yrs to happily married, looking disabled, more wrinkles and slowly becoming a recluse. I'm very happy in my world and cyberspace. So then why am I terrified to attend my 30yr high school reunion? My friends Lisa has tried to cajole me into going, yet understands. I have also re-connected with classmates on Facebook that maybe going. So what am I afraid of you ask, oh, you didn't ask, well I'll tell you anyway.
I was a cheerleader, a party girl and my senior year I made the yearbook as class flirt. Need I say more. These classmates are not, for the most part, strangers. If they all knew that I had ALS it would be easier, but most don't. Even if I wore a t-shirt that said "I'm not drunk I have ALS" many don't even know what ALS is. If they come by the table to say hi, walker tucked away, will they think I'm rude for not jumping up for a hug or just a drunken classmate too rude to mingle. People who know me now don't pity me so how will I deal with that flash across those faces. You know the look "is that Tammy? how sad."
Let's face facts, they all got older and we probably won't recognize each other anyway. I'm leaning towards going and enjoying my friends. I'll try and look fabulous and remember it's just curiosity. I could mingle wearing my cheerleader outfit holding a brewski. They won't ask what's wrong with me so I'll just act like I do this type of event regularly. If I go I'll go as me! If I don't go call me a big ole chicken!