You may have noticed my rant about medical advice the other day. Or maybe you didn’t. Either way, I wanted to address when illness is not always invisible, when it is chronic, and how much courage it takes. I am not writing this because I am brave. I am writing this because I cried on the way to work.
This is not a lifestyle blog about sipping mojitos (who likes those, anyway? Pass the Jack–pre-Cervical Dystonia!) and spending the weekend some place awesome. This is about writing my way through an impossible situation and maybe adding a little levity along the way.
Last week, my Cervical Dystonia was causing me a lot of pain. The only way that I could go to work and concentrate was to wear big lidoderm patches on my the muscles that were tight and pulling. These patches aren’t pretty to begin with. In addition, they don’t stay on well, so I have started using strong tape to hold them in place. I like to wear my hair down to cover it, but I was just feeling so poorly that I couldn’t bring myself to style it. A ponytail was the best I could do, if I wanted to get to work before noon.
I had to place pain relief and quality of life over my vanity. It was on that day, that everyone in my office (thanks fire drill!) that everyone could see my invisible illness. Most of the time, I like to think that it is invisible, but the pain is written all over my face and in the way I walk. My head tilts to the side. My hand tremors. I cry. It’s fairly miserable on a regular basis.
However, if you notice the picture, I can’t help but smile. I’ve been conditioned since I could learn–you always put on a happy face. No matter what. It’s exhausting. It’s probably the worst part of having an “invisible illness.”
I want other women of all ages to know that they aren’t alone when they have to face the public looking disheveled because they’re sick. They aren’t alone when they have physical signs of a much deeper condition. It’s hard, but my dad told me that those patches were my badge of courage. It’s been hard for me to work while I’m so sick. Pushing through the pain to sit in a desk all day is so taxing on me–physically and emotionally. But I have to believe that I’m not alone. I’ve found an amazing online support group and am eagerly anticipating the national conference in September.