Shortly after she turned 31, Niki Saks was diagnosed with dystonia, a movement disorder that causes her neck to involuntarily twist and turn at random times. Also known as cervical dystonia or torticollis, the rare and painful condition has no known cure--and in Saks' case, there was no known cause. Needless to say, life after the shocking diagnosis became a lot more difficult.
"The hardest part is the isolation. I had to quit my job, and I spend most days at home," wrote Saks in an honest and revealing blog post on The Mighty.
But then something happened that changed her outlook dramatically. On vacation in Panama with a group of friends, she was walking down the street as her friends helped carry her suitcase. Suddenly, a stranger approached her.
"I was so concentrated on walking straight, and worried about bumping into someone or something, I didn’t realize a homeless man approach," she wrote. "His presence initially didn’t scare me, and he walked right up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. He asked me if I was OK, and what was wrong with my neck."
What happened next will stay with her forever.
"I told him I had a neurological disease and he said he’d pray for me. You could see the sadness in his eyes when I told him there was no cure. Taken off guard, I held back my tears. I didn’t want to break down in front of my friends or this man," Saks wrote.
The kindness shown to her by a complete stranger--and one in such unfortunate circumstances as to live a life on the street--touched Saks to the core.
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"Most people are too busy to notice someone struggling or to even take time to ask if they are OK. Yet, his man with nothing still had the decency to ask," she wrote. "This disease has opened my eyes to see the world differently, appreciate kindness in others, and step back from the usually fast-paced lifestyle to look around. You never know who you can meet along your journey that will inspire you to help others."
Wherever that man is today, we hope he knows that he had a lasting impact.
via The Mighty