It’s simple… a friend asks how I am… I answer and they say “You still look good”. I am torn between cringing and saying thank you. Life with a chronic illness sucks on so many levels but the worst part is dealing with societies expectations of what should be happening.
Many people feel that if you are truly sick you rot away in a hospital awaiting death or recovery. How dare someone fight through pain and illness to enjoy life… how dare someone stay active with doctor supervision.
TV paints the picture of someone with cancer, for instance, as being bald and sitting in a hospital hooked up to IVs awaiting death. Did you know only a small percentage of chemotherapies can actually cause hair loss? Did you know that they try to keep cancer patients out of the hospital for their safety? Did you know that it is super important to stay active when fighting cancer?
Society looks at someone who doesn’t fit this picture the world paints and says they are faking… they just want sympathy. This drives a wedge between the ill person and society. It isolates them. This is one of the biggest complaints among the chronically ill. Isolation is already caused by things like lack of working, having to stay home more time, perhaps an inability to drive due to meds… etc. Isolation is the biggest cause of depression and hopelessness. Society simply adds to it.
I’m thankful I still look good. I don’t look anywhere near as good as I did 2 years ago. It hurts to look into a mirror but I’m getting used to the changes. I’ve also learned not to go out on the bad days when I have to be doped to the gills on pain meds or am having confusion issues due to my meds. You learn to just smile and go forth when you can.
Living with chronic illness or chronic pain is already hard… society simply makes it harder. Don’t be a dick. Most people don’t want sympathy… empathy perhaps… understanding during the bad days definitely. I’m thankful for my close friends… I’ve learned to ignore the haters… and I thank God everyday (usually after a good cry) that I still look as good as I do. I eat right, push through the pain when I can to stay active, and have learned to keep to myself and close friends about my struggles.