Invisible Illness Week

I just found out this morning that this week is Invisible Illness Week. I have chronic pain. I don’t mean pain that comes and goes, I mean pain that is constant, pain that wakes me up in the middle of the night every night, pain that has kept me from working or otherwise living what used to be my normal life. I’ve been battling it since January 2009. I’ve had four cervical spine surgeries during that time, and more procedures and therapies than I can count. I’m on so many medications I have to write them down when I take them to be sure I’m doing it right.

I picked the badge I used above because it’s perfect for my situation.  I’m losing weight, most likely because when the pain is bad I’m too nauseated to eat.  Instead of going down that road when people ask if I’ve lost weight and how I did it I pull out the polished seraphinite beads I keep in my pockets which are supposed to help with weight loss.  But I know the truth.  I smile, I laugh, I can usually carry on a normal casual conversation if I’ve managed to hit the balance between not enough medication and too much medication – it’s a fine line.

The positive side?  I never judge people by how they appear to be feeling anymore.  And when I ask, “How are you doing?” I am ready to hear the whole truth, not just the “I’m hanging in there” answer I’ve been giving for years.  Take a look at the link above if you’d like to read some amazing posts and listen to some fabulous speakers this week.  It’s not just for those of us with invisible illnesses, it’s for our friends and families as well, to help them understand something we ourselves can’t always communicate well enough.

I hope this isn’t something I’ll have to deal with forever – my neurosurgeon is optimistic.  But even if I wake up pain-free tomorrow this experience will have changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.  So this week be thankful for your health and that of your family, and don’t judge too harshly the person in front of you who’s slow to go when the light turns green or who has to have the cashier come around the counter to scan the big bag of dog food.  There may be more going on than you know.

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