Saturday, September 6, 2008

National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week Sept. 8-14

Monday is the start to National Invisible Chronic Illness Week.

The stats are amazing -- they say that nearly 1 in 2 people have a chronic illness and 96 percent are invisible.

At first I thought that had to be an exaggeration. But then I looked at my (birth) family -- parents and siblings and me. Three of the five of us have invisible chronic illnesses. And if you count allergies as an invisible chronic illness -- and boy, people who don't have them or only have very mild allergies do not understand the severity allergies can have for the rest of us -- then I think we're five out of five. (I'm embarrassed to admit that while I think my brother has some allergies, I can't remember what, if anything he's allergic to. It's been too many years that we haven't seen much of each other. Maybe it's "just" hay fever?)

The following video was created for last year's awareness week, but is still very relevant:

Find more videos like this on Illness-Disability-Healthcare-Caregiver Ministry Network

I laugh every time I come across the "Don't" about telling someone "But you look so good!" or some variation on it. I grind my teeth every time someone I haven't seen since they brought me a meal right after I got home from the hospital last summer says in a hopeful/cheery voice, "You're looking great!" The follow-up -- "You must be feeling much better!" -- is sometimes said aloud, sometimes just implied. I've stopped in most cases trying to explain that the whole point of an invisible illness is that it's invisible. Which means if I'm making an effort to conceal my fatigue, as I generally do in social situations, I look perfectly healthy. It does not mean I feel perfectly healthy.

Anyway, if you have an invisible chronic illness, or you know someone who does, take a little time next week to visit and check out the seminars and articles to read. You might even consider visiting the gift shop ... I know I'm tempted by more than one of the t-shirts!

No comments: