Saturday, July 8, 2017

It could be worse, right?

I had to see a doctor today for one of many chronic illness issues. While there, I got the "at least it's just migraines, it could be a lot worse" line from a health professional in the lab. If fibro allowed me to get my foot that high, I might have kicked her in the head and said, oh, I know that hurts but it could be a lot worse! 

I get her point. There are things worse than #migraine. Though, according to the World Health Organization, and in terms of disabilty, not many.  But so many other "worse" illnesses have an end point. You get better, are cured, or in remission, etc.  Worst case is death, which, while not a good or hoped for outcome, IS an endpoint.  Many chronic illnesses, like migraine, mostly just serve to cause extreme pain and other symptoms, and could do so for the rest of my life. I'm (almost) 41. Officially middle aged. Sometimes I'm not completely sure I have another 40 years of the pain from chronic illnesses in me.

My friend Jennifer recently opened up about having a chronic illness. She's brave and strong and I'm glad she opened up about it because it's an illness I would otherwise know nothing about. I think it's especially important for those of us with invisible illness to open up and share our struggles. That said, this same friend sent the post from The Mighty, below. So for all the preaching I do about honesty, awareness, advocacy, and defeating the stigma of illness, I still wear the mask. You know, the one that says "all is well" when there is a storm brewing in my body. The smile I plaster on so no one around me has to feel uncomfortable or like I need special care. The desire to live the fullest life I can, and not revealing the sad, hurting, empty days, which leads to the statement "you must be doing better." 

Sometimes I actually am doing better and am happy to report that. But many times, I've just excelled at disguising the illnesses and the question is like a gut punch. No, I'm not better. I wish I were brave enough to show you the bad days. And the question is always asked or statement made with such a hopeful tone, I hate to disappoint by saying, actually, no. I'm just hiding it better right now. I know those that know me (most of them, anyway) want the best for me. I appreciate that, even if I don't always know how to answer the question.

I'm rambling on, but really, this piece from the Mighty is written as well as I could write or say it. Please don't think that I don't appreciate your concern or the fact that you pay attention at all to how I feel. It's just that sometimes there is more to the story than I can or want to show.

Thanks for reading.