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Grab your binoculars, looking glasses, and detective kits, because today I am going to share how to spot someone who has a chronic illness!
Make sure you have a pen and notepad ready to take notes because what I am about to share will help you spot one of these mythical creatures with your own eyes!!
Are you ready to begin your chronic illness manhunt?
Then let’s get started.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am just yanking your chain.
There is NO way to spot a person with a chronic illness without getting to know them.
I am sure you have heard the phrase “You don’t look sick”.
Those of us who ARE chronically ill despise this phrase. Not because we don’t like looking well, but because that phrase is often used to downplay the severity of our disease.
Look at the picture below.
This was taken at 9:30AM on March 17, 2019.
Do I look sick?
Yes, I am overweight and maybe appear a little tired, but for the most part, there is no way, from just looking at that picture, to determine what chronic illnesses I have and which are flaring.
What you don’t see
Here is what you don’t see:
- What feels like my intestines being tied into a knot
- The vomit I am forcing to keep down
- Psoriasis that is breaking out on the areas of my body that are most stressed at the moment.
- My Oska Pulse, under my shirt, working hard to keep my spine and sacrum happy while the rest of my body is under attack.
What isn’t bothering me
This is what people assume is bothering me when I say I am having a rough day. These conditions that practically crippled me after 12 years are well managed. They do not and have not been a major issue in the past two years, yet that is the assumption the minute I share that I am struggling.
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Degenerative disc disease
The chronic pain that these chronic illnesses produced were why I spent so much of the first twelve years of my chronic life in bed. They are why I couldn’t walk, stand, or sit for more than five minutes. Thankfully I have an amazing pain management plan that addresses the pain and symptoms from these illnesses, making them minor issues compared to what is going on inside my abdomen.
What I choose to hide
- Fear of incurring more internal damage
- Fear of living the rest of my life with pain that just can’t be explained
- Fear of dying
- Fear of never enjoying the freedom that a reprieve from all of my chronic illnesses allowed me to enjoy last year.
What to look for
There may not be an easy way to spot someone with a chronic illness, but there a few signs.
- Canceling of plans: Yes, life happens, but if you notice that it is happening more often than not, it may be the result of a chronic illness.
- Inability to hold back tears. While many of us, the chronically ill, have developed a thick skin and don’t always wear our emotions on our sleeves, I for one can’t hold back tears when my pain is out of control or I am just plum exhausted from fighting it.
- Manic behavior, such as wanting to do as much as possible in a short period of time because they fear not having much time left do to fear of life-ending or pain returning.
- Withdrawing from life. Some people slowly pull away from their friends and family.
The signs won’t be the same from one person to the next. We all handle our chronic illnesses differently. How we handle the emotional ramifications will also change throughout the years as our diseases either go into remission or progress.
Don’t judge us by how we look.
Looks are deceiving.