Hi everybody, today's entry is going to be for those with MS, those with people with MS and also for anybody who has little experience of the effects of MS. So SHARE THIS POST PLEASE!
Let's start with those with little or no experience of people with MS.
OK, you are out having a meal in a nice restaurant.
A couple of people are sitting near you but on a separate table and one of them is making a bit of a mess of their food and drink. They miss their mouth, are maybe slurring, dropping their cutlery and they may even start to laugh and some of the food drops out of their mouth. But because you don't know them, you start to think to yourself, has he/she had too much to drink? Is he/she on 'recreational' drugs? Should I complain about him/her to the management? What's wrong with this guy or this lady? Well just let you know that some of these people may have MS. With MS ,quite often, sufferers have difficulty spatial awareness and coordination. They also sometimes lose dexterity in their hands and have a thing called scanning speech which gives rise to something similar to a drunken slur. EVEN WORSE they may spill their drink or knock a glass or two over with one deft move! How embarrassed you feel.
Well with poor spatial awareness and poor coordination, one may have difficulty getting food into ones mouth easily and without mess. Think about a child who hasn't yet developed the spatial awareness and coordination to successfully eat and not wear a meal. Most people with MS had these acquired skills but because of nerve damage over the progression of the illness LOST them! There are also times when somebody has help by cutting up their meat or pizza, for example, for someone with MS. The person with MS who's trying to eat as 'normally' as possible can be embarrassed for themselves and for the people who are actually helping them. Often the only person not embarrassed is the helper/carer. Why is that? Normally because they understand what MS does to the sufferer and have become hardened to disapproving looks or sniggers from uneducated people around them.
And what should you do is next time you see somebody out eating in a restaurant who is looking drunk or not eating in the way that you would think is in a very polite manner. Don't stare at them. Don't look at them disapprovingly, ignore the fact that they may have a serviette posing as a bib tucked into their shirt . The reason for that is because the don't want lots of food all over them or down their front just as you don't!
I remember one time when I was in a pizza place, which is in Odiham where we live. It is a great for a relaxed meal. I was having a problem cutting up the pizza and also with actually getting food to my mouth. What I had to do was ask Victoria (my beautiful wife) to cut up the pizza, but I refused to let her feed me with it as well. So I got on eating the pizza (American hot with extra chilies, meat and tomato). I missed my mouth few times. I dropped the food a few times. I ended up with pizza topping including plenty of the tomato everywhere, although I really did enjoy the 7/8's I managed to get into my mouth.
I ended up wondering what I looked like to other people. I now had a choice. I could pretend nothing had happened and that I didn't look like a failed suicide bomber with all the stuff down my front, I could belch loudly and guffaw to complete the floor show or I could go around apologising for my poor table manners. Then it hit me, hang on a minute, I can't help this. It's nothing to do with the way that I want to be, it's to do with a way that I am now. So we left in our own good time after the meal (transporting the doggy bag masquerading as my shirt) together smiling to each other.
What can you do if someone is in the predicament I was in? Apart from to say hi or good night. Don't say anything. Don't laugh about them. Just accept that sometimes people with MS – or any other physical or mental problems have actually got the nerve to go out and eat in a public place and enjoy food even though not necessarily being able to eat it and cut it up in the way that people with standard dexterity can. The best thing you can do is to offer to open the door to help if a hand is needed. That means that all you need to say is Is everything okay? Can I help you? That's all you need do except enjoy your own meal and treat them with the same respect as 'normal' people.