Ms. Meniscus,

I got Transverse Myelitis after my 7th infusion which is getting worse and worse every 6th month or so. Now I need to use a walker when outside the house and if I try to go without the support I walk like I am drunk! I don't see other people using walkers so I'm inviting people's stares. What to do?

— Gypsy Rosalie

Dear Gypsy,

It would be easy for Ms. Meniscus to simply say, “Oh, don’t be embarrassed when people stare at you and your walker.” But the truth is (at least according to Charles Darwin in his seminal work: The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.) that part of being human is feeling embarrassed when the eyes of others are upon us. We can’t help it. It’s evolution, my dear Gypsy Rosalie. So it’s completely natural to feel embarrassed, ashamed and/or completely mortified when we think people are staring at us because we look stupid or ridiculous (and/or drunk). But let me assure you, just because people may stare when you are using your walker, it doesn’t mean they think you look stupid, ridiculous (and/or drunk). On the contrary, Ms. Meniscus would conjecture that they admire you for having the guts and gumption to refuse to let a walker keep you home and from going out and living your life. Granted it is rude to stare, but even Ms. Meniscus must admit to giving a woman with a walker a second look when she visited Manhattan recently. There, a regal-looking lady with her hair pulled into a chignon, a hint of lipstick and her head held high, slowly maneuvered her walker as she strolled down Park Avenue. Overcome with admiration, Ms. Meniscus forgot her manners for a moment and could not help but stare. Ms. Meniscus sees two possible strategies for dealing with these stares of admiration. If you wish people would not look and mind their own business, go outside with your walker as much as possible. Over time, the stares won’t impact you as much—if at all. That’s human nature. The other strategy, Miss Gypsy Rosalie, involves embracing your namesake. Consider tying a few sequined feathers or a balloon or two to your walker and take a stroll with a big smile on your face, a bounce in your step–and be the best fan dancer you can be.

— M

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