I Choose To Laugh

Cathy ChesterCathy Chester has written a guest post on behalf of Healthline.  She’s a writer and health advocate, and writes about living with a disability during midlife at An Empowered Spirit.

The first time “it” happened I was walking as fast as I could through the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.  Everyone walks very fast in Manhattan, and when you’re trying to catch a bus, they walk even faster.

They do this without looking anyone squarely in the eye. There must be an unwritten law that you aren’t allowed to look anyone in the eye if you live in the Northeastern United States.

Trying to catch my bus, I noticed my body felt very “uneven.” I would take one step and my foot would touch the ground; the next step it would not.

What was up with that?

I looked down to see I had one shoe on.  What?  Yes, one shoe off, one shoe on…(I won’t continue with that.)

I looked in back of me, and the fast walkers of Manhattan were kicking my shoe out of their way to catch their bus.

My foot was so numb I never noticed my shoe had come off.

The second time “it” happened was the following year.  I was going out to dinner with some friends to a bar/restaurant.  After waiting for our table at the bar (and one glass of wine later) we were called to our table.  Following the waiter up two short steps, I fell down. Plop.  My legs had given out.

“How many drinks did you have?” the waiter asked, smiling like I was a cheap drunk.

I could have said a lot of things, but I blurted out, “Only one.”

Not exactly clever.

The “it” I am talking about are those things that happen to us while living with Multiple Sclerosis.  Those humiliating and embarrassing day-to-day activities that happen if we fall, trip or collapse during the treadmill of our lives.  They can happen in an instant or over time, but when they happen, how will we handle it?

After 26 years of living with MS, my response to that question is to handle it with grace and humor.  After all, what are our choices?  We can either cry or laugh.

I choose to laugh.

Those of us diagnosed with an autoimmune disease end up listening to family, friends, doctors, therapists, social media and countless other well-meaning people trying to help us manage our disease.  People, in general, are more educated about MS today than they were 26 years ago.

But we still have a long way to go.

I hope we handle their education with grace and humor, while letting them know that MS is not something to laugh at, but we can still laugh at ourselves.

Today I would have told those people kicking my shoe around Port Authority that I have MS, so if it happens again they will think twice and be kind enough to tell someone they lost their shoe.

Today I would have told the waiter at the restaurant about MS, so if it happens again he would use more tact, and show more compassion.

And both times, I will continue to laugh inwardly and, outwardly, helping to spread MS awareness.

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14 thoughts on “I Choose To Laugh

  1. chris says:

    Snap 26 years here tooi am a non drugtaking and lose my shoes on regular basis .
    I likevto the newis and worry so many new drugs that give more to worry about
    Stay positive have a life ms life is different nut can be done stay as sttrss free and do what you can when you can dont give your self the title !
    You control you and if its your favorite subject people will get bored and you children need to have normal 😉 just my opion guys

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Absolutely. That’s why I write this blog – to keep all the MS stuff away from my son.
      I’ve met a lot of people for whom MS is the be all and end all, but then that’s the same for any illness? We’re all different!

  2. Tricia says:

    I call it My Dying Swan fall, in my mind I am all dressed up looking graceful and petite, but infact I look like and big bag of King Edward potatoes.

  3. Diana says:

    Great post. While I’ve never lost a shoe, I’m sure it can happen to any one of us MSers. I agree that the best medicine is laughter! You’ll have MS no matter what so why not make the days better with a laugh and a smile.

  4. Sally says:

    Lovely post, have now bookmarked her. Totally agree with the bit that ms is not me. Having recently accepted that a scooter may improve my life I have already restarted 2 things I have struggled with recently. Long walks with friends and shopping. Just got back from a trip to York for a friend’s wedding and managed an entire afternoons shopping with my daughter on my fantastic Travelscoot ( Betty Quatro). It was amazing in small spaces and I even experienced scooter envy from other scooterers (and very small children?). At the wedding my fabulous friends were there to support me when I was wobbling around to Duran Duran, Erasure and The Waterboys. If I didn’t know them so well I swear they were just drinking copious amounts of alcohol to make my wobbling and stumbling look less conspicuous.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Love it! Adore the Waterboys, my youth! They were great, weren’t they?
      p.s. could say much more but don’t want to embarrass myself! x

  5. Sally says:


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