I’m short, so I have to ask for help at the grocery store when the item I want is on the top shelf. Is there any reason to feel embarrassed or silly about having to ask for assistance in reaching something? Not at all. So why should I feel embarrassed when asking for help with something that I can’t do because of my Arthritis?
For me, learning how to accept help, graciously and gracefully, started from a young age. My finger and wrist joints needed daily physiotherapy and after soaking in either ice water or heating up with a coating of hot wax (depending if I was in a flare at the time), my mother or my sister would push my joints through range of motion exercises.
When I lived with her during university, my sister would wake up without complaint after a late shift as a restaurant manager before my early 8:00am classes to turn on the bathtub taps for me and help me on with my socks. My husband does so much for me I wouldn’t even know where to begin, and friends help me however they can. I don’t know that they’ll ever understand how grateful I am for their support, which was always so much more than the physical tasks.
I have learned over the years that it’s not just friends and family who will lend a helping hand, either. The kindness of strangers has been proven to me time and time again, whether I buy bottle of juice and the clerk happily opens it for me, or a perfect stranger answers my appeal to help with the gas cap on my car, or open a particularly heavy door.
Yes, it is important to me to be independent and strong, but a long time ago I realized that independent and strong doesn’t mean able to open a jar or lift a heavy box.
One recommendation I can make is that it’s important to let people in your life know that they should hold off on doing absolutely everything for you, until they hear you asking for help. It can get very easy to get comfortable with having someone do all of those tough things for you, when you might just be able to surprise yourself with an ability you had previously written off. On a good day I can get my socks on by myself, so my husband knows I am having difficulties when I ask for “sock assistance”, and either way, he’s there for me.