The one thing about Fibro that I hate…okay, there are many things about Fibro that I hate, but the predominate thing on my list when it comes to other people, is the “you don’t look sick” talk. Now along with the “you look well” spiel, the “you don’t look sick” sentence is guaranteed to get you a good swift kicking to the groinal area.
Why the offence at such an innocuous phrase? The reason is because I’ve come to realise over the last few years, that this straightforward statement has become an accusation of sorts and for some, has come to simply mean “I don’t believe you.” I had someone once say to me and I quote, “you don’t look sick. Are you sure you were diagnosed properly? Because some people pretend they’re ill so that they can claim benefits.”
Suffice to say that after telling her a few things about herself and her mama, we are no longer on speaking terms. In my opinion, she got off lightly as she could have so been buried six feet under my patio…right next to my ex.
Now I have a walking stick that identifies me as “sick,” but I don’t “look sick” (as a few people have expressed), so therefore I must be faking it. A friend has a tube running from her head to her stomach to drain away fluid after she suffered a brain tumour. The other day whilst on the bus, she was told to get up and let someone else sit because she “didn’t look sick.” So somebody please tell me, what is sick supposed to look like??
Last week, I found myself having some difficulty in swallowing. This didn’t worry too much until it felt as though I had a huge lump stuck in my throat and that my airways were closing up. In panic, Spawn called 111 as by then, I could no longer speak and my breathing had become erratic. A paramedic was soon dispatched and arrived just as I was mentally finalising my last Will and testament. Looking back, it still amazes me how I wasn’t charged with 1st degree murder as this man who looked a little bit like Donald Trump’s crazier brother, begun to patronise and belittle whilst all the while, looking at me like an errant school girl. The look on his face as I gasped out a list of my ailments, was a clear “but you don’t look sick” even though I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk and there was a sodding great lump blocking my air passage. But Trump, in his infinite wisdom, had already decided that there was nothing wrong and that I was merely an over-reacting, female…at least that’s how I felt. He did a few tests before the ambulance arrived and declared on their entry that I was okay, but “we’ll just pop her to the hospital so that the doctor can look her over.” This was said in a “oh bless her” manner, which didn’t go unnoticed by Spawn either. By now I had three faces looking down at me as though not only was I wasting their time and resources, but like I was a simpleton who had just rode in on a horse from Crazy Town. Oh and they kept asking me repeatedly about my auto-immune illnesses as though they didn’t quite believe me, even though they had already written down the details…several times.
In the end, I was put straight through to A&E where they discovered that not only was my throat extremely red and swollen (the paramedic had told the ambulance crew that there was no redness or swelling of the throat) and that the lining of my nasal passages were also thick and swollen. Turns out that I had Allergic Rhinitis, which is caused when the body makes allergic antibodies in response to allergens, which in turn results in inflammation and irritation to the lining of the eyes, nose and throat. So thank you Trump for assuming that just because a person doesn’t look sick, then they must be faking it. Let’s hope that one day, your assumption and your basic lack of human kindness, doesn’t put someone’s life at risk..