I have a friend who regularly blogs a list of things that she is grateful in life. It has always impressed me with the lists she comes up with. Some of the things are huge and I find myself nodding, thinking, “yes, that is a gift from Heaven”. Other times, I’m squinting at the screen, thinking, “well yeah, but it seems such simple thing. Hardly worth mentioning.”
I don’t list those things in life that I am grateful for nor do I regularly thank God for them. I know I should as it’s good manners at the very least. However, I am so used to having these gifts that I take them for granted.
Working with people with disabilities forces me each day to focus on something that I can do without thinking that others I work with strive to achieve. There is one man who repeats endlessly, why are you (or Susan, Frank or Elroy) better than that than me? Why? Why? What’s your secret?
“What’s your secret?” It always makes me smile when he asks because there is no secret. For some reason I have been given greater gifts. I haven’t done anything to deserve them and there is no answer I can give to satisfy him. It just is.
He also thinks I have bigger muscles than he has and wants to know if I do weights. Hmmm .. no.
Today, I watched an employee suffer a seizure. I have only ever seen one other person experience a seizure before and it was quite dramatic. Today’s was without drama. It just was and then it was over. That is from the spectator’s point of view. For this man, it isn’t over. It is one in an endless stream of seizures. Each one leaving an impact on his body. Each one leaving another dose of fear of what the next will bring.
He’s not always the most pleasant person to work with. Most times he’s pretty grumpy. I struggle with his grumpiness trying to decide if it is an effect of his seizures or his personality. Perhaps a bit of both. He is easily irritated and often fearful. He will snap, bark and refuse to work with people for seemingly no reason. It is difficult to decipher what the issue is as he is beyond rationality. He can express his most basic feelings and that’s about it. For a moment. Then I can talk to him and begin to understand what has happened.
Every time he will come back and apologise. He will always apologise to me (without prompting) and to those around him. It’s more than I can say for myself when I behave badly.
Today he wasn’t grumpy. He is a man without a sense of humour (not just my opinion. I asked him what he found funny and he said nothing) and yet today he cracked a joke. There was a glimpse of a side of him I had not seen before. As he came back to himself, he thanked me for placing a pillow under his head. Incredible considering only last week I thought he had no manners at all.
It was his birthday last week. He’s in his mid forties, not so much older than me. Yet he is. His seizures have aged him. I’ve been told that he used to be taller and broader. Not frail. Perhaps he used to also have a sense of humour. Or a lightness that is now harder for him to find.
It seems a little absurd to be writing this. And then, isn’t that what a blog is for? It’s my own public diary. A place for me to flesh out my thoughts – with or without an audience.
It’s difficult to describe this to others. I find it makes people uncomfortable. It is outside the experience of most people I know. It is outside my experience.
But there it is.