So, keeping with the Lyme theme for just a sec, we placed a visit to the Big Red Bullseye store the other day. Of course we did! It seemed the thing to do...
At any rate, we were going there to shop for whatever it was we needed/wanted (decidedly un health related, I'm sure.) And as we parked and got out of the car, I noticed a mom, around my age I'd say, and her son - probably about Sweetie's age, maybe a bit younger - just passing us by on the way to their car. No big deal, of course. But out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse at the mom's legs. Short legged plastic braces! Just like mine! Wow!
And the son? Well, he was looking at me. Not, I imagined, like almost every other kid and many adults (it seems) looks at me when I'm out and about - as if I'm some odd and curious anomaly very rarely spotted. But more like, "Wow. That lady's just like my mom!"
The mom saw nothing of this - not me, not her son's noticing of me - and just kept on going, pushing her cart toward her car.
Hmmm.... Now, I really have no idea if this woman has spina bifida, as I do. Furthermore, I make no claims whatsoever that I know what it means to have any other physical challenges requiring someone to wear short-legged braces. All I know is that I only recall having ever seen someone wearing braces like mine if that someone also had spina bifida. Ergo, I concluded that she, too, must have spina bifida.
This not-even-2-second encounter all of a sudden had me realizing something.
Yes, I have certainly seen others in my community with various and diverse physical disabilities. But, you know what? I have never, to my recollection, seen anyone in the area that I was able to tag right away as having spina bifida.
Well, wait. I do take that back a bit. See, I am a not-very-active member of the Spina Bifida Association of Massachusetts. I don't live in MA, but because my adjacent state does not have it's own Association, I am granted membership to this one. As such, I have attended a few summer picnics and holiday parties over the last several years. So, of course, at these various gatherings I have definitely met plenty of people with spina bifida. Mostly kids, though, and a few adults. And no one - I think - who actually lives in my state.
But, duh... there has got to be more people in my state - more than just me! - who has spina bifida! I remember when I was a teen that my orthodontist and his wife just had a baby with spina bifida. So, presuming they haven't moved out of the area, there's her at least. But seriously! There's got to be more! And adults! Where are you all?!
Wait a minute, wait a minute... now I'm remembering something else. I do recall going on a date or 2, back when I was a teen, with a guy who had spina bifida. Not sure whatever became of him either. Okay, so that makes three of us.
And now the Target Parking Lot Lady. Who is she? Where is she from? Does she, in fact, have spina bifida? She looked friendly enough - as much as I could tell from a 2 second sideways glance, that is. An adult! Woman! With spina bifida! And at least the one child! My twin! I want to know her!
At any rate, the whole thing made me feel rather alone in the world. Not that I have ever, ever felt the twinges of anything like this before! I'm not lonely. I don't feel different from everyone else. I don't mope around, friendless and bored and as if I'm the only person like me in the whole wide world. I'm just me, and - yeah - people look at me when I walk around, but so what. I've got 30 some years of "practice" getting used to that phenomena. Whatever.
And then, THEN.... we three were on vacation/staycation last week, taking day trips here and there, near and far, to explore as much of New England as we could muster. With that, we found ourselves at Waterfire last Saturday night. And you know who I spotted in the crowd? No, not the Parking Lot Lady, but another young woman who, it appeared to me and Hubby, also has spina bifida! She was wearing long jeans, so I couldn't see her braces, but I could tell she wore them from her shoes, stance and considerably seemingly underdeveloped legs as compared to the rest of her. That may all seem very presumptuous of me to jump to the spina bifida conclusion. But, I'm just sayin'. I may not see people "like me" often, but when I do, I can easily spot and tag them as such.
This lady was with her (able bodied) boyfriend. They appeared to be in their early 20s or so. Even though they stood for awhile not too far from where we sat, I didn't go talk to her. But I do believe that, after some time, she took notice of me as well.
Wow! Two adult females with spina bifida spotted in one week, both living (more or less/kinda sorta) in my area! Very cool! What a unique sight! And what a realization to consider just how unique this was!
If only I could meet more women in my area with spina bifida. The Parking Lot Lady really has me curious. How cool would that be to see her again and get a chance to introduce myself?! To hear her story of becoming a parent, managing through a pregnancy (if, in fact, she did), handled the day-to-day needs of an infant and growing, active toddler. Yup, it would be really interesting to talk to her and compare notes. Maybe some day...
In the meantime, I'll go on living my solitary life. What a sad, lonely existence. Pitiful, really...
Well, except for that it's not that way at all! Life, for the most part, is good.