As anyone that has followed this blog, or looked in the archives, you know I have COPD, you also know it is a terminal disease, and now the 4th leading killer of people in the US. But if you’re not at the end stage, and even then sometimes you just don’t look ill. If you’re caught that brief moment without the cannula in your nose, the vast majority of folks wouldn’t even know you’re ill.
Earlier today as I stood in the shower, cleaning and catching my breath I had a momentary pity party. Why it came upon me, I don’t have a clue. But as I stood there I wanted so much to look ill, I had a real need to look ill. Moments flashed in my head of how my Mom looked after her 5th or 6th little stroke, or how Dad looked weeks before the lung cancer took him, or recently when my friend passed away. You knew by looking at them, they were ill. You looked at them and suspected the worst. Or you just knew the end was near. I never felt pity for my parents and for my friend, but for each I had a deep sadness, a feeling that reached into the deepest part of me, and I cried for them.
Then I stepped out of the shower and looked at myself in the mirror, I really didn’t like what I saw at that moment. A short fat guy with a tube hanging from his nose who felt like shit, feeling I had to justify having the blue plaque hanging from the mirror in my car. Feeling I needed to justify why I couldn’t and didn’t want to make that 200 yard walk and then back. There were several other things that went thru my mind during this brief period that I didn’t like having to justify or feel like I needed to justify. It was a momentary thing, and for that moment I wanted to look as sick, as weak, as forlorn as I sometimes feel. But it passed, did it go away completely, of course not. Do I expect those feelings to come again, yes I do. These feelings are part of the sickness process, it’s the part that explains to me why I don’t need to make those justifications. Because I am in fact sick, and the reality is I am very sick.
Why did I choose to write about it today, because I needed to. Normally I would stuff these feelings, these emotions, into a dark bag and push them into a corner. Not to be heard from until the next time. But maybe stuffing them in a bag and throwing them into the corner isn’t always the answer. I know that the more I try to hide how I feel the more it shows in other ways. Maybe I snap a little quicker than normal, maybe I don’t smile when I normally would, maybe because I am wrapped up in how I feel inside, my outside gets ugly, maybe I don’t appreciate all the things I need to appreciate. Most likely it is a little of this and a little of that. The other and probably more important reason is because this blog was created as my soapbox, my platform, my hilltop, from which I can talk about having COPD, about how I feel, both inside and outside, and to let others know who have similar feelings and thoughts that they are not alone. Will I be talking or writing about this on a regular basis no, but it is the forum I created to talk about this subject when I wanted. Today I wanted.
My heart goes out to the many people who are ill, their illness could be short or long term, it could be something they will recovery from quickly or it may be life threatening. But they should never feel like they have to justify being ill, they should never have to explain that being sick wasn’t their idea. They don’t need people looking at them and whispering that if they hadn’t done this that or the other maybe they wouldn’t be sick. And last but not least you don’t have to look sick to be sick.
Okay that is enough for the soapbox today. Thank you for your patience, and thank you for your comments. Take care, Bill