A Letter From A “Slow Walker”

There is often a lot of talk about how annoying “slow walkers” are. I have always fallen into the “annoyed” category since God gave me long legs at birth.

When I was 22 I got sick with a chronic illness — Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It started off as a debilitating sickness. I could only walk about twelve feet without resting, and could only make the long journey up a flight of stairs to my bed once a day with the help of my parents and taking little breaks between climbing a few steps and sitting down to rest until I reached the top.

When I was finally well enough to go out of the house for a fifteen minute errand to the grocery store it was a big deal. I felt like I had this tiny piece of normalcy in my life, even though I felt constantly dizzy and nauseous.

Wegmans was my number one choice for a field trip, and I wanted to see if I could go find a salty snack and chocolate bar while I was there. One salty snack, one sweet treat. That’s it.

I walked to the dessert aisle first, as it was closer to the entrance, and my eyes grazed over dozens of choices. The room spun as I tried to read new labels, and my body started to gently sway. I knew I wasn’t feeling well enough to stay in this upright position much longer, but I was determined to be normal again — at least for a few minutes. I snagged a bar I thought might be halfway decent and took each step to the popcorn aisle as carefully as I possibly could. I didn’t want to fall, and I absolutely was not about to faint in public for the first time — not today.

As I put one foot in front of the other I vaguely noticed the bustling around me. I felt mildly panicked as I began to realize I shouldn’t be alone anymore and that my heart was racing the way it does when I’m about to pass out. My eyes slowly scanned the aisle, and I couldn’t feel my footing anymore. My feet were still planted firmly on the ground, but my head was spinning in circles.

“What the hell is her problem,” I hear behind me. I turn, dazed, as a woman my mom’s age firmly nudged me into the shelf that held some sort of food I couldn’t quite make out. It wasn’t until I was intentionally lying on the ground* to get the blood to flow back to my brain moments later that it all clicked. I was the one with the “problem.”

Tears welled up behind my foggy eyes. I had never been different before, and I wasn’t used to having a disability. No one could tell by looking at me that I was sick, but my body reminded me every second of every day that I was ill. The room kept spinning, but somehow I kept thinking.

I was a heavy mix of angry, frustrated, and devastated. Why aren’t people more patient? Why can’t we have some sort of label for the chronically ill so that people would know I need extra help? But wait, why can’t people just be kind to others in general and realize that you never know what someone else is going through by of the way they look? 

stairs.png

These are questions I never really thought about before I got sick. I am guilty of complaining to friends about “slow walkers,” moody waiters, and distracted baristas. Having a chronic illness has taught me the very important lesson that just because someone looks fine doesn’t mean that they are. People can have a hard time for a number of different reasons, and instead of making their life any more difficult by making snarky remarks or getting frustrated, we should all take a minute to practice patience and kindness. After all, even if someone doesn’t need it, there is never any harm in being kind to others and treating them the way you would like to be treated. Sure people can be frustrating sometimes, but is the hustle and bustle and rush of life really worth hurting another human? Is whatever you are rushing to really worth upsetting anyone over? I think the answer for most of us if we sat down and thought about it would be “no.”


*This is a tactic POTSies use to ward off some of our symptoms and feel a little better, hence the “Postural” in “POTS.”

18 thoughts on “A Letter From A “Slow Walker”

  1. scifihammy says:

    The hardest thing is having to come to terms with a chronic illness when you are young. Mostly our ability to do things slowly deteriorates as we age, and as you say, people then expect old people to be slow or have problems. I know so well that you can look fine and feel terrible.
    I hope you have many good days when you feel healthier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • singleinthesuburbs says:

      Yes, exactly! It’s difficult when people assume twentysomethings are just “lazy” or being goofy when we really do have serious problems to deal with. I hope you are feeling better now, though, and continue to heal from whatever you are dealing with! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • scifihammy says:

        Thank you. It was my daughter with the chronic illness, but you learn to deal with whatever life throws at you. Often your body starts to heal itself to some extent, or you just come to terms with your limitations and then feel happier. If you have the support of your family and a few friends, it makes it easier to cope.
        All the best to you. 🙂

        Like

  2. Brandon Adams says:

    A few years ago, my car started experiencing a weird transmission problem – it would not move into fourth gear. I could not drive faster than 55 MPH without overheating my engine – and I had a weekly commute of 250 miles and a couple weeks until I could get it in to my mechanic.

    So now I was the one with the “problem” – people behind me, getting obviously irritated.

    But it occurred to me that before, I was the one getting irritated. I was the one just assuming that the slowpoke in front of me was driving slow just to irritate me, or being willfully clueless, or whatever.

    Now that the shoe was on the other foot, I had to start thinking about how often I was being inconvenienced by unimaginable, heartbreaking difficulties on others’ part. It humbled me. There’s no shortage of ways the human body can go wonky (I’ve never heard of POTS, of course), nor does life seem to be at a loss for creative ways to bring us suffering. Instead of anger, should I not be assuming that maybe the person inconveniencing me is truly suffering, and so I should be kind and gracious?

    Liked by 1 person

    • singleinthesuburbs says:

      Yeah, isn’t it so crazy how difficult experiences give you a completely different perspective? Your example about your car is PERFECT. Slow drivers do frustrate most people when we’re in a rush, and I am definitely guilty of getting a little flustered when I’m trying to get somewhere. You never know, though, if someone’s car isn’t working, they’re a new driver, or what’s going on in their life that might be causing that. It’s so eye opening and something that can be really difficult to remember, especially when we have other things on our mind, but I agree with you completely that we should always be kind and gracious toward others. Thank you for taking the time to share your story, Brandon!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. tarnishedsoul says:

    I couldn’t imagine what you go through with POTS, but I can relate a little. I became a type 1 diabetic when I was 8 years old. Being the only kid in school that had to eat during the middle of class, earned you plenty of jealous stares. It’s even worse when your blood sugar drops and you fall out of your chair out cold….

    But being a little older when you get a chronic condition, you have already developed “ways” for life and something like this probably hits you hard enough to rock your world a little. Having followed your blog for quite some time, however, I am amazed at your tenacity, your expression and you caring nature! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • singleinthesuburbs says:

      Oh wow, you can definitely relate then. I think it would be even more difficult dealing with a chronic condition and being in school, especially since children don’t always understand why some people need special care. I really hope you are feeling better and have your diabetes under control some! I would imagine that must be hard. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • tarnishedsoul says:

        IT ebbs and flows, honestly. I can say the worst part was when I was a teen…all those hormonal things going on really made it difficult to control my blood sugars. In adulthood, when I was really healthy, everything was great. I’m not coming out of a period of my life that I didn;t take care of myself. I’m doing better now and trying to get back on track…so, it’s a struggle, but it’s something that needs to be done.

        And I am happy to share my story with you…you’re always so nice to me! 🙂

        Like

      • singleinthesuburbs says:

        I’m glad you’re doing better now! I know it’s always a struggle keeping with a bunch of changes, but it’s definitely worth it if it makes you feel better. (I struggle a lot with new lifestyle things but am always happy if it helps me feel better!)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Am I Thirty? says:

    I am guilty of getting annoyed with slow walkers. I have never said anything out loud to them or been so rude as to nudge someone who I considered walking too slow. However, I have gotten annoyed and said things to my friends. This post has made me think twice about thinking that way. I never have to be somewhere so important that making someone feel bad for walking slow is worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • singleinthesuburbs says:

      Oh yeah, I have definitely made those kind of remarks to friends as well. It’s just not something you really think too much about until you become the “slow walker” yourself, haha! I think it’s just human nature.

      Like

  5. mandibelle16 says:

    Yes, I can relate to this. Along with things like you seem smart or your skilled or educated so you must not be disabled or suffer from an illness. You cannot tell from looking at aperson how they are feeling. We become very good at hiding it don’t we!

    Liked by 1 person

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