Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chronic Illness...Please Don't Compare!!

Today I celebrated my 41st birthday. I had a ball. I know that some people try to ignore their age. Some people won't even tell you their age. Some people get sad when they get to a certain age. I am ecstatic to have reached 41!!! I would sky write it if I could. Why? Because not to long ago I was told that a combination of my illnesses would eventually end my life. Imagine that. Every birthday is a blessing to me for so many reasons. I am already excited for next year. I am a SURVIVOR! I say it everyday.

People that have never been sick just do not get it. I know a woman that told one of my brother's that I just needed to move on with my life and stop talking about my illness. WOMAN PLEASE! I sit and listen to you complain about your husband and you complain about your job. A headache knocks you off your feet. And you have the nerve to talk about me because I am EXCITED to see another day. It is almost laughable to hear anyone talk about the attitude of someone that has chronic illness. Mainly because you have no idea what a person deals with if you are not that person! It doesn't matter if you have tired days. I can respect that, But when I am talking about bone crushing fatigued, I think it is insulting for you too say, "Oh yeah I get tired too." Really, do you? I say my hands hurt and swell from rheumatoid arthritis and you chime in, "It's just a part of getting older," The funny thing is for me that is not it. My hands hurt because my joints are deformed. My hands hurt because I have horrendous muscle spasms and tremors. The funny part is, getting older is the good part.

I understand that it is hard to watch our loved ones suffer. The thing is,there is no way you can know what it is like to have these diseases unless you have these diseases, period. It can be insulting and hurtful to have your suffering downplayed. It is hard enough dealing with the illness. We shouldn't have to defend it.

I haven't been sick all my life. Before I was diagnosed with anything I knew the best way to support my ill loved ones is to just say, "Is there anything I can do for you?" I don't have to minimize their pain with my comparisons. If my friend with cancer says, "I have the worse insomnia due to chemo." My response is not "Oh honey I can't sleep either...." "NO! My response is, "I am so sorry to hear that, is there anything that I can do." Chronic illnesses make people uncomfortable. Mainly because they feel sorry for us and just do not know what to say or do. It is not that complicated. Just be there. If that is too much then just call or text. But do not compare your symptoms to the symptoms of someone with an incurable illness.

I am so grateful to see this day. Turned 41! I did it. I did it. God loved me and showed me enough favor to carry me through. I just can not keep quiet about it. If I had to make a wish it wouldn't be for a cure. You know why? Because nobody learns anything that way. Our suffering and pain is for them to see. It is an opportunity for a weak or frightened or selfish, stubborn, non believer to see us hustle through, stay in the game, press on. My wish would be that everyone would empathize with everyone else. That would change the game for us all.

The bottom line is, I am alive. I made it another year. My life is blessed and my heart is full of appreciation. That doesn't mean my fight is over. It just means I get to keep fighting. I know the people that love me can not fight for me but they can support me. The first step to that support is understanding there is no need to compare. When there is NO COMPARISON.


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