Before I write about what happened today, I’d just like to say – my intentions of sharing such an experience are rather clear – one, I wish that by reading these things we write, other ‘normal’ people are able to at least understand what sort of an effect their words or actions could have on people with a rare or chronic illness, even when they don’t mean to cause harm. I am aware that most of us don’t mean to, but does it really hurt to pause and think about it for a moment anyway? And two, I want to let those who are like me know that we are on the same side. We’re a team, no matter where each one of us is located or if we’d ever cross paths, we face similar situations and that we’re getting better at handling them through our experience.
Someone asked me this morning how I was doing and since it had been a while from the last time I saw her, I gave her a quick update about the latest injury I’ve had. She heard me out I think and said something like, “Well, at least you don’t need an operation.” I said,” Yep. I don’t. I doubt that would help anyway.” She goes, “ Well it’s probably not that dire then.”
Fair enough. It probably isn’t that dire but it is causing me a lot of pain. And it’s not the same amount of pain someone else with healthy collagen would feel if he were to have a bulged out disc.
And this happens next.
She asked me when I plan to visit my brother and I told her that as much as I would LOVE to visit him, I do not think it’s a good idea at the moment. Given that a 20-minute taxi ride can take a horrible toll on me, I don’t wish to take on a 30-hour long journey for now.
Our conversation was going fine, I was telling her that if I do end up traveling anywhere, it would possibly be to see him first etc. Just then she goes, “NICE! You know what, just travel on Business Class. Come on, get your dad to get you on a Business Class and just go meet your brother! You have an excuse so that shouldn’t be a problem. Your back! Hahaha. Good excuse to travel on Business Class, eh?”
Honestly, I’m quite surprised that what she said didn’t get to me. It didn’t make me tear up on the spot and neither did it make me angry. I know she didn’t mean to say it the way it came across to me. I just made a mental note that I want to share this on my blog because sometimes even the closest of our people, or our health professionals, may end up making certain unintentional comments which can make us think for a bit. Depending on who I’m with, I decide if I wish to communicate my feelings or let it go.
My reply to her was rather ‘normal’. I calmly said, “ Of course, for a long flight like that, I would need to fly on Business Class for sure.”
I’m guessing some of us who are reading this and are not dealing with an illness may find nothing ‘wrong’ with what just happened. You might even think I’m choosing words to focus on. You’re right to some extent, because I am. But you may be wrong for the reasons you come up with as to why I’m sharing this.
I don’t think what she said was ‘wrong’ per se, but it was something that reminded me of other times in the last seven years where I received similar comments, and I thought about all of us around the world who face such situations on a day to day basis. If I were someone who did not have an illness, I’d probably make a joke out it immediately. I do that even now because it can lighten up a situation and sometimes I don’t because not everything is meant to be light and funny all the time.
We don’t use health as an excuse. It’s not an excuse for us in any way. If anything, it’s the very opposite. If anything, we wish our health excused us for once. I doubt any one of us would like to use it to our advantage or something.
Up till now, I don’t remember a single occasion in my life where I used my health as in excuse to do or not do something.
My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to submit incomplete design projects back in University. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to cancel on my friends’ Birthday parties. My health wasn’t an excuse when I couldn’t deal with the noise around me because of the heightened pain level and needed space. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to tell my boyfriend back then to carry my bags. My health wasn’t an excuse when I couldn’t do some basic household chores. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to leave Design school. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to make a special request to the Business School to let me audio record my exams instead of writing them out. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to tell my group-mates that I couldn’t stay back after school for group meetings because I attended a 3-hour lecture that morning and had no more energy left. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to apply for the Disability Liaison Unit a year later. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to stay home instead of going out with my brother because I was tired from traveling to the doctor that morning. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to tell someone next to me at a movie hall to exchange seats because I needed the aisle seat. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to use a seat meant for the handicapped even though I looked young and fit. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to take an elevator only meant for the handicapped. My health wasn’t an excuse when I had to spend a lot of money on taxis. My health wasn’t and excuse when I had to ask someone at the grocery store to help me with my basket. My health wasn’t an excuse when I decided that some relationships in my life must change. My health wasn’t an excuse when I decided to live on my own and learn to look after myself slowly.My health wasn’t an excuse when I decided to take my time for myself and make drastic changes to my lifestyle.
My health wasn’t ever an excuse.
My health was the reason; it was the reason I chose (or choose) to do things a particular way to reduce suffering and pain for myself, or fulfil my fundamental needs because I have a body that is very very different.
So, nope. My health is not and will not be an excuse for me to travel on Business Class to see my brother.