Andrea lives with MS in the Netherlands. In 2019 Andrea promised to be kinder to herself, to listen to her body, and do more things that she loves. In this article, Andrea talks self-care, courage, and festivals.
I look back on the past year and feel like it’s been quite rough. I wanted to do well in my studies, devoting all my time and energy to them. After that I wanted to go straight to work because of course all graduates start work immediately (or so I thought). I just wanted to be normal, to keep on going. Then my body said STOP!
It was my MS that forced me to stop. At this time, I had to accept my limitations and rediscover what my body could still do. I learned to listen to my body again. I also learned what really made me happy, what I thought was really important and how I could be nice(r) to myself.
Taking a chance
I recently made a tough decision, I decided to go to a festival in my wheel-chair.
Bringing the wheelchair was my friend Wouter’s idea. At first I laughed a little. ‘What! That’s not possible!’. Eventually, I wrote to the festival just to check. They said they could make it work. As the festival crept closer and closer I thought to myself ‘why not? If I bring the wheelchair, I can keep doing what I love’.
I had my reservations. I was afraid that I would be a burden to my friends, that I would restrict them. I was afraid that the practicalities wouldn’t work out.
I cautiously told my friends that I was going, and my wheelchair was coming too. I was so afraid of their reactions, but everyone was so positive and sweet. I received so much love and understanding, it really meant a lot.
On the day of the festival, Wouter and I travelled by tram. There was a special entrance for us. It was extra wide making the entrance easily accesible. Immediately I noticed that everyone was super nice. As soon as anyone saw me, they all made room.
Even in the busy tents, everyone immediately apologised, pulled over, and let me through with the wheelchair. I met SO many nice people. I even met a fellow MS’er, we’re going to grab a coffee sometime. How cool is that!
When I felt up to it, I could get up for a while, go for a dance, then sit back down. It was a really nice day! I felt so much love, warmth, and understanding. I never really never expected that.
Normally my MS is invisible. Normally, you wouldn’t notice anything different. Sometimes it’s helpful because people don’t make snap judgments. Sometimes it’s very frustrating because people just can’t understand the situation.
I feel blessed to have lots of nice people around me who try to understand as much as they can -despite my invisible symptoms! I feel so lucky to have people who are always ready to explore what’s possible.
I am very grateful that I have had such a positive experience with my wheelchair at the festival. This suddenly makes me feel a bit less limited. Despite my limitations, I can continue to do what makes me happy!
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