Thinking About Invisible Illnesses After Having a Sinus Infection

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I have a sinus infection and it’s been such a reminder of the downsides of “invisible illnesses/pain” that I face everyday with my back issues. The huge piles of tissues, cough, etc have elicited a generous amount of empathy from the people around me. It’s such a simple label and has symptoms that people can see and hear.

Jay is perpetually sweet and the MOST supportive partner through all of my pain ALWAYS but he has been so extra attentive because I think he can relate to how I feel this time. He knows what it feels like to have a sinus infection + can see it with his eyes so empathy is just free flowing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful. It just keeps making me think about how if THIS is the type of reaction I’m getting from a dumb sinus infection from people, imagine what kind of response I would get to my suffering with my back pain that’s on a much larger scale (don’t get me wrong the combo of being sick and in pain puts my past my maximum tolerance and I’m currently v unhappy haha).

I’ve found that the moments when I’ve been on crutches have been easier in a specific way in that they served as a message to the world. I can’t take subways for multiple reasons with my back but one of them is that I’ve been stuck too many times without a seat because I look like a healthy 28 year old. I’ve wanted to wear a shirt that reads “please be patient when I walk slowly, I was hit by a car” many times. I think that the most challenging part of having an invisible illness/injury is suffering in silence to a large degree. In a way I think it’s a great thing because I want to come off as “normal”, I want to maintain as much normalcy in my life as possible, I don’t want my pain to run the show all the time, etc. In fact, I keep my voice quiet a lot with the people in my life because I don’t even want them to know how bad it truly is. But that invisibility sets you up for a lot of lonely feelings in your suffering. It’s natural to understand what we’ve personally experienced but if we haven’t experienced it, it’s at least easier to understand if we can SEE it. It’s such an important lesson that you never know what pain (emotional or physical) someone is walking around it and how you really can’t judge a book by its cover (as cliche as that is).