This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Georgia and attend a Georgia football game with my husband. Georgia is his favorite team and I wanted this trip to be so special for him.
And it was very special and so much fun but as I get the looks from people wondering how I’m able to get out my wheelchair as he escorts me to our handicap accessible seating, I begin to think about all the things those people staring don’t see.
I bet you’ve seen someone disabled post something and wondered if they are really disabled, how or why they’re able to do some things. I’ve posted fun moments and had people ask me if I’m always in pain, how I was able to do it. People have said because they see a picture of me sitting at a wedding without my cane that their glad I’m not stuck in the house sick anymore. So I know it’s something people think about.
Chronically ill/ disabled people are able to do anything they want. it may look different but we can do it. We do it because there are things you can’t see. Those people staring at me in my wheelchair didn’t see the weeks of doing nothing to prepare for my trip. You don’t see the extra medication, the increased pain. What you don’t see in that post is the bag with the heating pad, the pillows, blankets, cushions just to be a little bit comfortable. The wheelchair, cane, walker and all the space that takes up. The hand sanitizer, gloves and mask you desperately need. The glasses and magnifiers, ear plugs you need to function. We don’t show you the hidden tears as you struggle to make it through an event. We try and hide the irritation and mood swings from increased pain. You don’t get to see the hassle of dealing with customer service to get accommodations. They don’t see the essential oils, puke bags, medical alert bracelets and medical information you have to have at your disposal. You don’t see or feel our pain. They don’t see you trying to make a moment special for someone you love They just see you having fun.
They see you having fun for a finite amount of time, trying to enjoy life despite of how you feel daily. They see you without really seeing you.
I want to encourage all those like me to Do it anyway. Ignore the stares, the comments, that little feeling in your head telling you not to do it because people won’t believe you’re really sick. Do it anyway. Let them see you enjoying life too. Let them see the pain & strength. Do the extra work, be ready to adapt and make that moment count.
If you’re one of my able bodied friends I want to encourage you not to judge. To look at people with kindness. Appreciate people’s time. Especially when you know they’re chronically ill. Instead of resting, giving in to their bodies pain & fatigue, they’re spending time with those that matter. You never know what people, disabled or not have to go through. You don’t know what it took for them to be there. Don’t take how easy it was for you to get up and go for granted. See the person fully. Ask questions if you need, help them but don’t judge. You don’t know what you don’t see.