“You don’t look sick.”
This is an everyday phrase that people like to throw around when they ask me why I’m not able to leave for London in a month.
“Are you in danger of death?”
This is a common question that my insurance company likes to ask me to decide whether or not they want to cover the medical costs I now have from the different doctors and specialists I’ve had to see over the past seven years of my life.
I’m not dying, I don’t have a terminal illness, and my condition(s) aren’t well known… so for insurance companies, employers, and people all around…it might seem as if I’m making it all up.
Oh, sure, I can’t make it two days without some mind numbing pain in my abdomen or sleep through a night without waking up several times because of discomfort…but I’m not on my deathbed, so what’s the big deal?
From the outside looking in, I’m perfectly healthy.
I did everything right. I stopped eating fast food and limited my sweets over 5 years ago. I never have or never will drink pop. I always drink water. I (used to) exercise regularly, I got 8-10 hours of sleep nightly, and I surrounded myself with positive uplifting people. But even after taking all the necessary precautions, I still find myself with conditions that affect my life on a daily basis.
The thought of holding down a 40+ hour a week job in my current condition paralyzes me with fear. I’ve had it happen before. I’ve had a couple of days a month where I find it extremely difficult to make it out of my bed much less go to work for 8+ hours. So I try to explain it to my employer.
“But you don’t look sick.”
And it’s not just the fact that I have pain. It’s what this means for the rest of my life. And what it means for my family and friends who have to deal with me lying on a couch 70% of the time. And what it means for the hours a week that I have to dedicate to doctors visits in order to function daily.
There are times I feel quite helpless looking toward the future. But that’s just it, isn’t it? I’m setting myself up for failure. I’m allowing myself to buy into the glass half empty outlook.
Yeah, life is a little rough right now. I may not be able to pursue my dreams or enjoy activities that so many others seem to enjoy…but I’m alive. I finally know why I feel the way that I feel. And I have the willpower to never let it define me.
No, I may not look sick, but I am. And what it means for my future, I don’t know. But what I do know-
I’m not my illness and it will not define my life.