Sometimes I Wish I Looked Sick…..

30 Nov

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


Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Observations, Ramblings


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8 responses to “Sometimes I Wish I Looked Sick…..

  1. karenleahansen

    November 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Hey Bill, your post touched me and I thought that I would take a moment to comment. In the last five years, I have had to take care of three sick relatives. in 2008 my mom died of lung cancer and currently, i help care for my aunt and uncle who have a variety of health problems. Sometimes they don’t actively look sick either, but just being around them, I know when they are having a bad day. You are totally right, nobody should ever feel that they need to somehow justify their illness. It’s bad enough that they have to deal with the illness in the first place. I get very frustrated when we encounter people who look at my uncle with judgement, because he doesn’t look like he needs a handicap spot. I’ve noticed that the most compassionate people are the ones that have been sick or cared for someone who is sick. They get it and often help, rather than rush to judge. I’m sorry that you have had a rough day, just know that there are understanding people out there in the world. Take care!

    • FlaHam

      November 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm

      Karen, Thank you for you kind words. My heart goes out to you as the caregiver your mom and your aunt and uncle. That is an extremely difficult job. Your understanding of the situation and their needs, plus your willingness to deal with it make you very very good for them. Please take care, Bill

  2. Squirt

    November 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I’m really proud of you for this, Dad. And I’m proud of your writing, too. I love you, and I hope you have a better day tomorrow…

    • FlaHam

      November 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      Thank you Allison, each day when I wake it is already a good day. And I really only take it one day at a time. Love Dad

  3. jmgoyder

    December 1, 2012 at 12:37 am

    A brave and inspiring post – I love your honesty and my heart goes out to you Bill.

    • FlaHam

      December 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Julie, thank you for your kind words. I truly hope that my writing about my situation is inspiring to others in a similar situation. It really is the reason I started blogging in the 1st place. Yet as inspiring as you think I am, I have found so much inspiration from the blogs I have read, your included, which help me, and give me strength. Take care, Bill

  4. Wanda

    December 3, 2012 at 7:27 pm


    There are tears in my eyes as I read, and ponder, this post.

    First, it hurts to know that, physically, you feel forlorn and weak because I know, I KNOW, you are mentally and emotionally strong.

    Second, you are so right about how judgmental people can be. I must admit I’ve cast more than one skeptical glance at someone who parked in a handicapped space and seemed perfectly able–all of these thoughts passing through my mind in a millisecond without any understanding on my part whether that person has a visible or, perhaps, an invisible disability. On the one hand, I want genuinely disabled people to have access to handicapped spaces and any other available accommodations but, on the other, I’m unwilling to wish bad karma on someone who is discourteous enough to take a close-by space when the only condition he or she has is that they are so lazy they can’t walk a few hundred feet extra feet from a regular parking space.

    I know you have a lot to deal with and, honestly, I can’t begin to comprehend how you do it. But…regardless of your physical condition and whether COPD kills you tomorrow or 10/20/30 years from now, or if your demise comes from something completely unrelated…the memories of your family and friends will be centered more on how you made them smile, laugh, and feel special than on anything to do with your COPD-caused disability.

    Love you…Wanda

    • FlaHam

      December 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Wanda, Soft smile, again let me thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. You need to understand that I have those same thoughts you have (even if it’s only for a nano second), when you see someone apparently “abled” with a handicapped placard jumping out of their vehicle, I like you hope the privledge isn’t being abused.

      Trust me Wanda, if you were in these shoes, I know you would handle it with style and grace. And I truly hope when I am gone that I have impacted someone, and yes made them feel special. — Take care, Bill


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