Living with a chronic illness you face lots of people who don’t understand your daily struggles. Sometimes because of this people can be inconsiderate and hurtful. Often you want to tell them how you really feel but don’t feel like you can. So today I’m taking the opportunity to do a little venting, which some of you might know that I do from time to time!! There’s nobody in particular that this is being directed at but I do want to say a few things to those of you that don’t understand chronic pain. Just because I have a smile on my face today doesn’t mean that I’m feeling fine, and that I’m not in a great deal of pain. On those days where I might seem a bit irritable the chances are that my pain is probably off the charts! In other words how things appear on the outside might be totally different from whats going on inside me.
Often those of us who suffer from chronic pain conditions are made to feel bad about something that is totally out of our control. I touched on this in a previous post, when I was talking about how physicians and others in health care often tell us that all of this is in our head. To make some of the statements they do when they aren’t the ones living in pain 24/7 is both hurtful and inconsiderate. However it isn’t only isolated to people within the medical community that this happens. I have had people who don’t even know me walk up to me and judge me, all of a sudden telling me telling me how I feel because they know me better than I know myself!
When someone does this I can’t begin to describe how this makes me feel inside. It only makes me want to say “live a day in my shoes” because you have no idea what I go through on a daily basis. Or tie one of your hands behind your back for a day, and see what its like to function doing everything with just that one hand! Not to mention the pain I have to put up with. If you only knew just how much I’ve had to adapt and change my life over the last ten years. Be careful when you judge that person who parks in handicap parking which I know some of you do. I’ve been that person who was judged! I had someone come up to me as I got out of the car and tell me I had nothing wrong with me, and that the space was for people with real disabilities. First of all I have a placard issued by my physician giving me every right to park in that space! Secondly did you miss the cane I was walking with at the time! Last of all you have no idea what might be wrong with me so maybe you should take the time to find out the facts first.
My point of sharing that with you is that words can hurt! At the time I was taken back and in shock that someone would say something like that to me. Here was this man who knew nothing about me yet he felt justified to judge me! Lets just say my guard went up and I had to ask God for grace to take the high road. This happens more often than you would think to those of us suffering from chronic illness. Its hard enough dealing with the disability itself I don’t need people making judgments about me on top of all that. You have to remember that a person’s self esteem has already suffered a lot when they are diagnosed with an illness. So making them feel worse when they are just trying to get through the storm doesn’t work!!!! Think before you make that comment and ask yourself it’s appropriate to make.
I’m not saying that you can’t ask how I’m doing or talk to me about my illness. All I’m saying is be sensitive to what you say. Think about the fact that I have to live with this illness every day of my life and sometimes the reminders hurt more than you know!