By Alexander Cathcart
Iíve been what I call a total dependant for
about four years. Iíll never allow myself to get used to it. I am,
however, getting used to the way people react to it. For instance,
there was a time when a family member could make me feel miserable
just by saying a silly little thing like ďI want you to know that
you really ruined my day,Ē after finding out at the last minute that
he had to fill in for my aide. Iíve reached the point where that
kind of thing has almost no effect on me. Besides, itís not like he
was planning to take three nympho super-models out on his yacht.
People say all kinds of wacky things in the heat of frustration, and
Iím not about to start apologizing for having ALS.
Itís a special person who chooses a career in
the service of others. And itís indeed commendable for family
members to fill in for these people when necessary. But when the
shift is over, the aide goes home. And if for some reason Ė
emotional, obligatory, or recreational Ė a family member doesnít
want to help, he or she can always say no. The patient (the
aforementioned burden) does not have the luxury of a respite from
his/her (my) ailment.
Everybody needs people. Itís no secret that we
depend on each other for everything from a mother wiping her childís
runny nose, to a father depending on his son to carry on his
bloodline. I find myself faced with the unique challenge of trying
to make some kind of positive impact on the world and maintaining
some modicum of dignity, while being almost totally dependent on
everyone around me for almost everything. Itís been quite a while
since Iíve felt like anyone depended on me for anything.
Of all the frustrations I face, thereís none so
demeaning as having to be so damned dependent on people. And,
thereís nothing so heartwarming as having them to depend on.