Archive | May, 2012

Receiving Help

8 May

It turns out that receiving help is incredibly difficult. I’ve lent a helping hand or written a check before without ever thinking of how hard it was to be on the other end. I tried to empathize with what it would feel like to “need” help but I just never spent much time thinking about how it felt to get help.

What really hits home for me is that this must be how Kim feels every day. Up until now all the outside support has been focused directly towards helping Kim with her needs or supporting activities she finds difficult or impossible to do right now. We have had friends and members of our broader community put in the garden, offer massage therapy, prepare meals, clean, drive Kim to her therapy, teach us how to do the injections and infusions ourselves, and the list goes on and on. Every day I help Kim with almost every aspect of daily life – it is our new normal, but of course “normal” is a moving target with ALS so as soon as we figure out one routine we need to adjust to a new one.

Yesterday one of Kim’s close friends asked for our contact list to promote a fundraising event ( to help pay for the cost of managing Kim’s ALS (meds, doctor visits, adaptive equipment, etc.). Like so many offers to help I was grateful and a bit overwhelmed by her generosity. It wasn’t until I got the first email letting me know donations had already been made that I felt the flood of emotion that comes with being helped – gratitude for sure, but also waves of angst as I am left desperately wishing I could do this on my own or immediately pay the generosity forward. I suppose that is pride, maybe arrogance, or at a minimum a tug towards balancing the good karma coming our way, but whatever it is this experience has already taught me a valuable lesson about giving and receiving. Like so many moments since the diagnosis, this one brought me a little closer to understanding Kim.

Allowing other people to help you takes more grace, patience, openness and trust than I ever imagined and Kim must do this dozens of times every day.  Each act of assistance helps Kim get from point A to point B in her daily life, and too often that has been my only focus. It takes nothing short of a deep physical, emotional and spiritual practice to manage all the turmoil that come with letting others care for us.