[Journal] I can’t think of a title today

This weekend I finally got out of the house. I ended up completely butts exhausted from it all, but I’ve been fighting the same sinus crap and hoping that the antibiotics are working (only to wake up this morning with a nasty sore throat) and I decided to get out and have some fun. I was lucky enough to see some old friends there and got to have a catch-up, but I also ran into someone from my days in reenactment.

I was quite taken aback at our brief exchange. We’ve known each other as acquaintances for almost 6 years now and I make no secret of my disability nor my mobility aids, so to have someone with such a bullshit attitude about it all really irritated in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Bearing in mind, by this point I was on my way to exit the event. I was limping quite heavily and leaning on the cane a lot and thinking about nothing but getting home to bed.

Tool: “Why on earth do you have a cane?”
Me: (flatly) “Because I’m a cripple.”
Tool: “I call bullshit!”
Me: “… I’m sorry, what?”
Tool: “Since when?! I’ve never seen you with a cane before.”
Me: “Since always. I’ve had it with me at every camp* and event I’ve been to.”
Tool: “Well, I’ve never seen it before.”

*Every medieval camp I’ve been to, I’ve needed my cane by the time the evening kicks around. I don’t make a fuss of it. It’s just an extension of myself these days.

Their tone of voice was very accusatory and disbelieving, like I had suddenly grown a third arm just to spite them. I wasn’t expecting anything like that, especially from someone who has known me in the past. I think the bit that confounded me was the fact that I make no secret of needing my cane, nor do I make a secret of being sick. It almost seemed like their reaction seemed to say “Well, I wasn’t informed, so you’re not validated in being ill”. It’s probably an overreaction on my part, but something about what was said triggered instant rage on my part. I don’t know whether it was the fact that he was just an insensitive prick, the assumption that I’m faking sick for shits and/or giggles and attention or something I haven’t quite put my finger on yet, but I’ve spent the last two days brewing about it in my quiet moments.

I feel that, in instances like this, it should be entirely legal to pimp hand the shit out of the stupid.

The perception of illness also brings me to another point that’s been on my mind a lot this morning: Short term/new pain versus old/chronic pain.

Over the years I’ve seen a few friends of mine have accidents, break bones and generally get hit with the nastier side of life when it comes to pain. What always has me curious is how people react to it, especially on social mediums like Facebook. Now, this has nothing to do with the ‘attention’ raised from an issue, but more the general reactions over time. This can also apply to any long term or chronic issue, be it pain, depression and mental health or general malaise.

First and foremost here is that pain sucks. It really, really does, regardless of who’s experiencing it and for how long. But what I always find interesting is that, if you take an otherwise healthy person and they end up in pain (whether it’s short or long term), people kick up a stink. there’s a massive furor about how unfair it is and how they’re thinking of the person. There’s messages that they should stay strong and that it will pass and everything will be okay. There is generally some kind of outpouring of well-wishes, regardless of how big or small.

If we skip forward a few years and that one person is still in pain of one kind or another, the universal reaction is that it’s become old-hat. They still have the few usual friends offering support, but the uproar and discontent at the situation has died to a dull roar. It’s no longer a matter for outrage at the injustice, but becomes something that ‘just is’. The person going through the issue doesn’t suffer any less, but their suffering becomes commonplace. It’s something you expect. It’s something that you can’t change, so what was once this vociferous show of solidarity becomes a “well, you know we’re here” from the back seat.

Suddenly getting up and facing the reality of the situation, day after day, gets hard. You know what to expect. You know what’s coming and what you’re going to face. You just don’t have the crowd cheering you on from the seats, just the memory of the support you had when you first got sick.

Go and hug a chronic kitty. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been dealing with shit a week or eighteen years. Give them a gentle hug and let them know you’re thinking of them. It doesn’t matter if their illness is mental or physical or emotional. It doesn’t matter whether you can see it or not. Go and give them a hug. Write them a letter. Send them a message. Let them know they have their own personal army cheering for them on the hardest days ❀

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6 thoughts on “[Journal] I can’t think of a title today

  1. A hug for you, Abi. I’m sorry I’ve been quiet on the email front, but know that I’ll always be here reading whatever you share. Long term pain and suffering is not something that people like to acknowledge because… well, I think they don’t tend to like situations that aren’t resolved with a nice, pretty little bow on top within an acceptable time frame. That’s been my experience when it comes to having chronic depression. The crowd thins out rather quickly and substantially then, that’s for sure. Oh, by the way… another hug! πŸ™‚

    • You’re always amazing ❀ Life has it's way of making itself known, I find, whether we like it or not πŸ˜›

      And yes, that's very much been my experience with these things. I had a lot of trouble getting my thoughts out with this one, so I'm glad I made a bit of sense.

      What I've actually found is that, in the long term, the chronic community at large does a lot more supporting than say, your average friend, during the later years. Mostly because it's a sad but relatable thing. Of course, sometimes we're lucky enough to have those few friends or family members that stick by, but it's nice to see that – at least on places like here and Reddit – that there is such a community presence for these things.

      • I’ve never even been on Reddit. Would you recommend checking out a place like that? I’ve heard horror stories of how much of a human cesspool it is… πŸ˜›

      • Reddit… is tricky business. If you get an ‘anonymous’ congregation of people, there’s always going to be some flaccid wank cheese that goes out of his way to be a jerk. The upside is that the communities on there are very strong and fairly well-informed. I know there are a whole heap of boards dedicated to various aspects of mental health, and I use the ones for chronic pain and fibro almost daily. It’s just a nice way to connect with other people and go “We’re both in the same boat here, let’s suck at life together”.

  2. Hi, I think you should call this post “The Stick And The Prick”. πŸ™‚

    Some people can be extraordinarily insensitive. They somehow take our illness as a personal affront. I never understand that.

    The time-limited support isn’t restricted to chronic pain, either. When I got breast cancer, initial support was immense, and my house looked like a florist’s for weeks. It lasted, erratically and sporadically, only until my hair grew back. My then bf’s “support” didn’t even last that long. Once chemo started, as far as he was concerned, I was someone else’s problem.

    Some people suck.

    Several years on, and no-one stops to think it can still come back, because breast cancer is one of those that hangs over you forever. If you’re lucky, secondaries don’t invade. If you aren’t lucky, they do, and then it’s odds-on that you die in short order. If I have the audacity to mention this to anyone (with the notable exceptions of my “replacement” bf – well, I was hardly likely to want to hold on to the last one, was I? – and my lovely GP), I am accused of wallowing, of throwing a pity party, of not moving on, etc etc ad nauseum.

    Fibro, being a chronic condition, just wears non-sufferers out, I think. They run out of things they think they ought to say, and rarely just say, “What do you need? Is there anything I can do? Can I help you in some practical way, like shopping, or taking us both out for the day?” Even, “Do you need a hug?” seems alien to them.

    As I said, and you so beautifully illustrated, some people suck.

    I don’t know about you, but after 4 years of actual severe fibromyalgia dx (plus the 30 since I first started asking the medics for help to discover my mystery illness), you’d think everyone around me would know the score. They apparently don’t (sigh). I still get, “So what’s wrong with you NOW?”

    You’re not alone, Abi!
    Lexi X

    • I think you’ve actually summed it up incredibly well. I think it’s just really easy for those who aren’t going through it themselves to become quickly accustomed to something that isn’t impacting them on a daily basis. Even the people living with you can be entirely apathetic at times. We’ve been through several housemates and just about every one of them at one point or another proved that, despite living with me, they had no real idea of how the illness impacted me.Even my exes, despite seeming sympathetic, couldn’t really get a grasp on what I was going through. But, as they say, they’re exes for a reason. For what it’s worth you definitely have my support ❀

      As much as it sucks to be a fibro kitty, I feel there's a lot of solidarity in it as well. When one of us turns to another and says "I understand", you know it's the kind of understanding you can only get from someone who's walking that same road. Or limping/rolling/crawling on whatever given day it is.

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