If you have a chronic illness, and illnesses like CFIDS, Fibromyalgia and IC Disease, you have probably heard this a lot from people – “You don’t look sick!”
But what does “sick” really look like? What is the image of “sick” that people think of when they say this? I personally know two people right now who have cancer, yet they don’t look sick at all. Right now, my brother-in-law actually looks pretty good because he has lost 30 pounds and you would never know that he was sick, although he is very sick.
This is something I have continually pondered. When you see someone with MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, cancer, lupus, sickle cell, etc. do you doubt that they are in fact ill? So why is it that we are continually told, “You don’t look sick”? Can anyone rationalize this for me?
What do you picture when you think of someone who is sick? Is it a picture of Tom Hanks at the end of Philadelphia when he died of Aids? Is it seeing a loved one at the end stages of a terminal disease? What thoughts go through your mind? Then ask yourself if in fact you do not think that someone can be sick if they don’t “look the part”, so to speak.
It is the same with handicapped parking – have you ever noticed that at several places the handicapped parking will be further away from the door then some of the regular parking? I have been taking notice to this. They put the handicapped parking where they can best accommodate a wheelchair, regardless of where the front door is. And when you think of handicapped, I am sure that you immediately picture someone in a wheelchair. But you can be physically handicapped without being in a wheelchair. There are people who have to use canes, walkers, and those with other chronic illnesses who cannot walk more than a few feet at a time. But to a lot of society, that is not considered “handicapped”.
I often wonder where we get these ideas as well. What makes us think this way? Any thoughts?