Me: "Wow, this sucks." (Referring to the needle being unceremoniously jammed into my stomach)
Doctor: "Yes, Jennifer, chronic diseases suck."
I was reading some of the posts on the Arthritis Foundation's Facebook page the other day. It was all about how you get others to understand what kind of pain you're in and what it's like to have a chronic disease.
Now I've been accused of a lot of things. With reference to this disease, I'm told I'm too stoic, told I shouldn't act so tough, and even that I'm "not really that sick". All things I've never quite felt fit. But because I've always subscribed to the philosophy that you just put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward with your life, nobody really does understand. And I know that's my fault. It's not a matter of denial, either. I know what this disease is and is doing to me. I know what degree of pain I'm in. But does it matter that someone else doesn't get it? And am I really so different from anyone else, just trying to deal with what I was dealt?
Like the woman I work with who earlier in the morning sent me an email letting me know she was going to be out for a while because she was going in for a double mastectomy the following day. Or a friend posting about how worried she was about her disabled child's breathing problems the previous night. Or the woman I work out with who'd canceled her trip to France to be with her mother who is in late stages of Alzheimers. Or the countless others who I knew were bearing burdens big and small, each in their own ways.
I physically hurt. A lot. I hurt daily. Hell, secondly. It's sometimes really pretty awful. And during those really awful times, when I hear others complain about really insignificant things or worse, playing the "Why me?" card, I admit, it can be maddeningly disheartening. And when I try medication after disgustingly expensive medication that doesn't seem to pan out, it gets really depressing. Depressing to the point that I've been seriously considering taking a medical leave from work to try to get my head back together again. (Geez, I almost can't even type that, it's so hard to think about.)
Despite all that, I'm not sure what it accomplishes to try to make others "understand" the incomprehensible. Isn't it a little like trying to explain something in Farsi to an only-English speaker? The color of the sunset to a blind woman? Convincing a Republican to think like a Democrat? Seems pretty futile to me. And at the end of the day, I'm not sure what anyone gains.
Yes, I hurt. But so do a lot of people, unfortunately. Maybe the message for all of us is just to have more compassion for and be more forgiving toward others around us. And stop complaining a little less. After all, we never know what cards the person we're saying it to has been dealt that day.