sis·ter·hood (noun)

Sisterhood can mean lots of things, and today I was presented with a new type of sisterhood of which I am now (reluctantly) part.

1. the state of being a sister

I am so blessed to have a biological little sister who loves and supports me.  Even though she is all grown up and lives far away, she’s always part of who I am.

2. congenial relationship or companionship between women

Throughout my life I’ve been blessed with many friends-who-are-like-sisters, as well as sorority sisters, who have been there for me at various points in my life and are still supportive of me now.

3. an organization of women with a common interest

Not all sisterhoods are “official.”

Today a customer who was using a cane came into my retail job.  She asked my advice on an outfit she was putting together and I noticed she was having trouble with colors, thought pink was red.  She asked my help reading a tag and commented she was really having trouble with one of her eyes.

“Optic neuritis?” I asked her.  [Optic neuritis is a swelling of the optic nerve which impairs vision.  A lot of people with ON flare ups experience color loss, particularly with the color red.  ON is often the first presenting sign for MS, and it was the symptom that led to my CIS diagnosis.]

She looked me in the eye, and it was like she knew immediately that my knowledge came from personal experience, that I wasn’t asking because I’d heard about it from a friend or read about it in some book.  She asked me when I was diagnosed.  She told me she was diagnosed 28 years ago and has an optic neuritis flare up every summer.  She also said she’s been dependent on the cane for 13 years.  She wished me luck with my treatment and reminded me that “MS is different for everyone.”

While I don’t see myself going to support groups anytime soon (the dwelling-on-our-problems-together thing just isn’t my scene), I appreciate the instant connection that I felt with this woman.  It was so neat to know that this woman who I’d never met knew what I was going through because she was in my exact position 28 years ago.  And she seemed so relieved to know that I understood what was going on with her and could give her the extra attention she needed.

I guess there’s a feeling of sisterhood that comes with sharing something like this.

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