Aaaaaand now that I’m out I can’t go back in again, and overwhelmingly I am getting asked one question from the people who know me in real life:
How come I didn’t know you were sick?!
Well, it’s not really a talking point for most of my day.
Welcome to my office, I have chronic disease!
Nice day isn’t it? Yes, especially for tachycardia!
Would you like some coffee? It won’t make you sick. Unlike me, who’s totally sick. And maybe even DYING! Cream and sugar?
Unless you’re my cardiologist, neurologist, endocrinologist, orthopedic surgeon or physiotherapist, there’s a good chance that I have no reason to keep you actively and intricately informed of how I’m feeling.
The exception to this is my husband, who hears way more about how I’m feeling than he probably ever wanted to. (My toes hurt! They want a cookie!)
You may also be the victim of limited observational data- you only see me when I’m fit to be seen. You don’t see me sleeping off pain for hours at home. You see me when I’m feeling good, because if I wasn’t feeling good then you wouldn’t be seeing me.
I don’t define myself by my illness. I have more in my life going for me than being sick. I have work, kids, and a charming, obnoxious, supportive husband. I have places to go, things to do, and topics of conversation other than chronic illness- like Khalid, who yesterday said to me, “Momma, are babies toothless mammals?”
“Yes, I suppose they are,” I tentatively replied.
“But I was born with teeth,” Khalid said.
“No dear, you weren’t. You didn’t have any teeth when you were born either.”
He seemed disappointed. Poor toothless mammal.
To talk exclusively, or even primarily about how sick I feel for the day would not only make me a total downer to hang out with, it would also be self-centeredly depressing. I deal with pain all day, the last thing I want to do is talk about it all the time too. I rather enjoy having normal friendships, normal conversations, and normal people around me who talk about normal things.
My sickness is a bit like the news- if it’s relevant or urgent you might want to know. But if you leave it running in the background then people just tend to tune it out. That doesn’t mean I’m not willing to talk about it, provided there’s something you’d like to know and it adds value to your day somehow.
So yes, you may have known me for the past three or four years and I may never have mentioned that I’m sick, but I humbly hope there is more to me than just my status as a chronically ill person, and you’ll still be my friend if I talk about things other than chronic pain and my favorite new heart medication.
Which is procoralan.
By Abez, the end.