Recently in a friend’s home, I sat down at her dining room table on a chair with arms. Much to my surprise the chair was on casters and when I plopped into the cushiony seat the chair rolled backwards over the hardwood floor, perilously close to her antique china cabinet.
Over my lifetime, several bleeds into my joints have deteriorated the cartilage and left beads of calcium along the bone. My ankles haven’t been able to flex for many years and my knees are week. When I sit down I collapse, rather than lowering myself slowly. When I stand up from a chair, I need support. If I have a choice, I pick a chair with firm arms so I can push myself up with my hands to a standing position. It makes me look as if I am at least twenty years older than I am. Considering that as a child my life expectancy was estimated at ten years of age, vanity seems like a small price to pay for living past sixty.
Sitting in the rolling chair, I began to think about how I was going to stand up. Where could I find support so that I wouldn’t send the chair or myself flying out of control? I considered my options carefully as I sipped my tea. My friend was unaware of what was scrolling through my brain. I could use the table to lean on, my core muscles could help, the soles on my shoes would grip well on the slippery floor. I practiced these things in my mind before it was time for me to stand up. No glass was broken and I got up safely.
Support is something I need to keep my balance in life. Sometimes it is physical support, medical support, or emotional support. I depend on friends and family to help me through difficult times and to celebrate the joys.
I have come to appreciate that there are different types of support I need for balance. There are times when what I need is empathy, a hug or a “I’m so sorry you are going through this.” I am very grateful for friends and family who can provide that kind of support.
There are also times when I need guidance, challenge and advice. These are times when “good job!” doesn’t mean much unless the person who says it really understands the work from personal experience.
That’s why for guidance and advice about living with a bleeding disorder I lean on women with a bleeding disorder and they lean on me. Together we provide mutual support.