Go to any Lyme chat room and you'll hear it: people laughing/complaining about the things people say to them about illness. Top list of offending comments?
- At least you don't have x, y, z
- You're not better, YET????
- If you exercised, prayed, didn't think about it so much, were more positive, you'd feel better
Today, I got a triple whammy. On a lark, I stopped by one of my favorite diners (I haven't been in a year). For an hour, the owner and I caught up.....about life...my health....her new hair/boyfriend...and my diagnosis.
"I'm just glad you know," Jill said.
"Last time you were here, we knew you were sick, but it was just the beginning of it."
For a while, we both sat and wiped away tears.
Halfway through, one of my favorite waitresses stopped by.
"Where've you been?" she chided.
"Oh, you know, hiding out..." I answered, kind of nonchalantly.
Something told me not to tell her. Before I could say "tick bite," the conversation got so comical, I almost don't regret it.
Her: You have what?
Me: Lyme Disease.
Her: Is it curable?
Me: Not really...
Her (interrupting, without giving me a chance to explain): That's your problem, right there. You're negative. I can see it.
Me: Really? (smacking Jill, under the table)
Her: Yes. Trust me. To beat this, you've gotta be positive. You gotta get up every morning and smile...even if you don't want to. You gotta get out of bed, do the sign of the cross three times, put your feet on the floor, and plaster a smile on your face...even if you got to fake it.
I debated stopping her.
I debated telling her... a) I'm not Catholic, b) What she was saying is Kryptonite to a sick person, and C) People need compassion..not lectures.
Instead, I chose to hear the message behind the messenger.
Me: Thanks for caring about me.
Her: Stay positive. Next time you come in here, you'd better be smiling.
Thank God, I'm working on acceptance.
Altered Today: Gratitude for the people who let me be me
PS For advice on how to talk to a sick person, go here.