The Invisible Catch-22 Dilemma

When I got my iron infusion this week…I was told I looked too “good” to be sick…now this is a dilemma that many of us who have invisible chronic illnesses face…all the time…and for me…it always depends on who says it…whether you get the pissy smile…or…the sweet smile. In this particular instance…it was an older lady, who was also getting her iron as well…so I sweetly smiled…not because she was older, although I do respect my elders…it was because she was a “one-timer, non repeater”…I would probably not see her again, because her one infusion would probably be the only one she needed…and she wouldn’t be back…so no reason to go into details…just smile and sit back in the chair. I understand that visual evidence is needed by some people…I mean…who really believes that you took off work because you have the “flu” if you aren’t throwing up and looking like death? Who hasn’t gotten flustered at our children when they are laughing in the pediatric’s office…because now the doctor won’t believe that lil Petey DID indeed have a 103.8 temperature an hour ago…when we called in a panic and just had to be seen…today! It’s sad, but true…but a lot of times we don’t believe people are sick UNLESS they LOOK sick. I call this the Invisible Catch-22…I try to leave the house looking as good as I can for that day…even if I feel like doggy doo….because mentally it makes me feel better…yet…it can rub me the wrong way at times…when a person has an unfair perspective of what I go through…I was told once by a girlfriend…that I was so lucky…because now that I had no stomach…I would stay skinny…I looked at her, like…”Are you freakin kidding me?”…so she got a pissy smile and nothing more…because I refused to waste my breath on telling her that me being skinny was the last thing on my mind…because she simply wouldn’t have gotten it…idiot. Tell a friend that you can only eat Lay’s potato chips…see what they say…”Are you kidding, I would LOVE to just eat potato chips, Gawd I hate you”…wow, really?…again the pissy smile…and another idiot. I want to appear as well and healthy as I can…and stylish…frankly, because that’s how I have always been…but also…looking too sick…can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable…but I don’t want my “fashion sense” to make people to think that things are easy for me either. I want my doctors, family and friends to believe that I am not just stressed out, depressed…or trying to get attention just because I am having a particular hard day or week….but looking pretty decent. Slowly… I am learning to accept that what I am dealing with isn’t like a common cold…it’s not a 24 hour bug…and it won’t be cured with chicken noodle soup….it’s just another part of me…just like the part of me that loves to watch the Golden Girls, drink pickle juice, wear red lipstick & high heels…AND I don’t have to put on A “Frumpy Clothes No Makeup So You Can See How Pale & Sick I Look” Show to know what I am coping with in my life….Thankfully, how I deal with My Catch-22 Dilemma is getting easier everyday…regardless of how I look on that particular day or feel…I simply educate those that may not understand…I always end by saying, See…you really can’t “Judge a book by it’s cover.”…and of course I say this…sweetly…smiling.

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