Two Strangers In an Elevator


It’s pretty rare, I think, when two strangers meet in the elevator and after exiting, have a 10 minute conversation bringing one of the people to tears. Fortunately that person was me and not that six-foot tall, extremely handsome man. That would really have been uncomfortable.For both of us.

I was coming back from my appointment with Dr. Cinzia, my psychologist, and taking the elevator down to the first floor from the fifth floor. During that small amount of time I met a guy whom I started up a conversation with; me in my motorized wheelchair and he, standing just a few feet away. and by the time we got to the ground floor he knew that I had MS and I knew that he had a sister with a very severe case of MS who was in a nursing home. We continued the conversation for a while; me learning that his sister could no longer move nor speak and that he wasn’t sure if she was in any amount of pain. I found out that she is only five years younger than I am and his story touched me very deeply. I know that his sister’s multiple sclerosis is extreme and most people do not end up in her position.

What struck me as extraordinary is that two strangers could find out so much about themselves in such a short amount of time and even now after almost 1 1/2 years we still keep in contact via e-mail. Shouldn’t we all be like this? Where we just let down our guard and help one another? He has no idea how much he helped me that day. To be validated and humanized and treated as a person and not as a disease or not as a person in a wheelchair.

My heart was breaking for him and for that whole family . I found out that she has two children and a husband and that she lives in New Jersey. Her name is Leigh Ann.

My mother, also had MS and towards the end of her life; she was 66 when she died and she also spent a lot of time in hospitals and in a nursing home . My dad never left her side, staying with her  even   through the most devastating parts of her disease, and that to me is extraordinary because my experience was so different.

By the end of my conversation with David, I felt blessed. Blessed to be able to travel by myself in my Handi-ride bus and blessed to have my cognitive skills and be able to have a conversation with strangers I meet along the way.

I invite you to take a look at the website for the book I have written entitled Potty Mouth . A woman disabled with multiple sclerosis meets life’s challenges with courage, wisdom and a profane sense of humor. That woman is me. And here is the link.

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