The three-day Labor Day weekend often means relaxing and spending time with people you may not often see. This holiday, my fiancé Justin and I visited his hometown near Scranton, Pennsylvania, to see family and friends. It had been two months since our last visit.
It was a busy weekend of traveling and seeing different people. On Saturday evening, we went to a brewery and restaurant that we had previously visited and enjoyed. This time, we went with Justin’s brother and his girlfriend, Ross and Jess, plus Justin’s good friend Marc and his girlfriend, Alex. On Sunday and Monday, we spent time with Justin’s family to celebrate my birthday.
Saturday was a long day of traveling in the car from Philadelphia. We also grabbed lunch and, later, went to dinner. Thankfully, we were able to rest to conserve my energy before dinner. (Remember that with Friedreich’s ataxia, it’s important to rest in between activities!)
Toward the end of the night, as we finished our dinner and were about to leave, I wanted to use the restroom. Of course, it was located across the room, and I didn’t have my rollator because I didn’t think I’d need it in the restaurant. I wasn’t feeling up to the walk, but Alex graciously offered to help me walk to the restroom.
Justin is used to helping me, so he anxiously started to get up. But Alex beat him to the punch! She stood up and helped me transition from the chair, grounding my feet on the floor before making our way to the restroom. She was attentive and patient. During the walk, Alex said she hoped I didn’t mind that she was helping me. She even worried about me leaning against the wall while she used the restroom. I told her everything was fine, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her generosity.
I don’t know why, but I often used to feel down on myself when someone offered assistance. I think it’s because I felt I was losing my independence. I used to judge myself because I needed help and couldn’t do things as efficiently on my own anymore.
Now, I am completely the opposite. I am very appreciative when someone offers to help or lend me a friendly arm. The simple gesture of helping me walk across the room goes a long way! The offer means even more when I don’t see the person very often, because they aren’t aware that Friedreich’s ataxia has slowly progressed and is taking over my body. I have matured and learned over time that it is OK to accept help.
I also have learned not to judge myself for needing help. This doesn’t make me a weaker person, it means that my support system is that much stronger. Between my family and friends, Justin’s family and friends, and the FA community, I know I am not alone in this fight. This is a wonderful and reassuring thought that gets me through my toughest days.
The rest of Labor Day weekend couldn’t have been better with Justin’s family. Although it took an extra hour driving home to Philadelphia due to the holiday traffic, it was a great time to reflect on how it is OK to accept assistance when offered. I also thought about how I soon will marry into Justin’s amazing, kind-hearted, and supportive group of family and friends. How did I become so fortunate?
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