“You look great!” How about no.
Apologies for our lack of activity. I was in finals week, and Lyme happened. I started feeling sicker than usual on Sunday, and my Zofran decided that it was a great time to make the problem worse! By Tuesday afternoon, it took three nurses and a doctor to get blood and an IV. They did a CT scan on my abdomen to check for kidney stones and found a ruptured ovarian cyst instead. Which was a surprise to all. Also, my blood glucose was 40 and the doctor’s and nurse’s faces were priceless. Apparently, people with that low of a sugar level don’t have coherent conversations and usually come in by ambulance. I might be superhuman.
So not only finals, but also every single system of my body was on the fritz. But every nurse they had was possibly the hottest man I’ve ever seen (like, every single one was a solid ten, at least) and in the midst of trying to find a vein one learned I had a deaf Dalmatian and he was fascinated. They took great care of me, and I got to talk about deaf dogs with a hot guy. And they told me I was their sweetest patient all day. So as far as ER trips go, not bad.
But now, I have to argue with every GI specialist and gynecologist’s receptions desk about getting an appointment before the end of the summer or even before July. And unpack everything. And deal with graduation activities for my brother, see friends while we’re all still home, and generally interact with people whom I haven’t seen in some time. And that will come with the comments I’ve been dreading for weeks.
At the start of the school year, I weighed 155 pounds. As of Friday, I weigh 116. It’s pretty obvious that I’ve lost weight, and women love to tell each other how great we look when our appearance changes. Despite their good intentions, comments like that hurt. I don’t want to hear about how good I look, because on the inside I’m dying. Currently, my digestive system cannot handle certain amounts of fat, too much sugar (in fruits or otherwise), or a serving size bigger than a deck of cards. And those are the good days. On bad days, even a sip of water makes my stomach want to backflip out my mouth. I did not lose weight because I wanted to, I lost it because Lyme has brutalized my system that food is nothing but a source of pain and fear for me. I would give my right arm to have my “fat” body back.
Before you tell any chronic illness sufferer how “great” they look, think about what they went through to get there. We know you mean well, but it reminds us of is everything that we’ve lost, both literally and figuratively. Instead, congratulate us on finishing our first year of college, on starting a blog, on putting flawless makeup on, or ask about our disease! There’s no bigger expression of love than “so I looked up online, I have some questions.” I love educating people about Lyme.
The other comment I’ll get is “you used to (fill in the blank) last time I saw you!” Yes, I had Lyme then when I could do those things. I don’t understand why I can’t do those anymore, and I’m extremely frustrated by it. It hurts. Usually that encounter ends with me saying something I regret.
Instead, invite me to things! More than likely, I can’t go or I will have to leave after only a little while but the invitation serves as a reminder that people still enjoy my company. The more I get left out, the more I think I have no friends. Plus, those little outings I do get to enjoy make me incredibly happy.
If you don’t know what to say to me, tell me about you! Tell me about all the clubs you’ve joined, the people you’ve met, your plans for the rest of the summer, or what you’re excited for next semester. I’m still me, even if my body isn’t playing nice. I’m going to try to be hitting Lyme hard this summer, so I will probably be housebound for a bit. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see or talk to people. I’m still me.