But you don’t look sick…

think stencil art & graffiti cat

Image by urbanartcore.eu via Flickr

She pulled her journal out of the drawer of the desk and flipped through the ink-filled pages while walking to her favorite chair. Her journal was always written in ink, never in pencil. The journals were records of her thoughts, her true, no-holds barred thoughts. No editing allowed here, ever. That’s the way she wanted it when she started writing so many years ago, and the crossed-out sentences and pages, were a testament to that. No editing, always the truth.

As she settled in the chair, she pulled the pen out of the journal that had marked the new page and started to write what she couldn’t say out loud, not yet anyway. The words and the tears started to flow.

“I can’t believe I’m writing about my health.”  One month, fifteen sets of fucking x-rays, umpteen vials of blood taken by that bloodsucking technician, and finally a diagnosis. It was bad, but not deadly. She wasn’t going to die from this, although at this particular moment that thought was not comforting. The genetic part of the blood tests came back positive, other tests came back negative. Thankfully, the x-rays told the true story.

I’m too young for this,” she said to the doctor when he told her what was wrong.

Her doctor looked at her and commented “there are children who have this, and much worse than you.”

She remembered feeling embarrassed that those words were said out loud…but that’s how she felt at the time. That’s how she still felt.

She put the pen down, closed her eyes and let her mind drift.

She thought about how much pain she was in, how tired she felt over the past couple of weeks, how she couldn’t sleep comfortably, and how her lack of sleep was affecting her ability to think and write clearly. She thought of the blank canvas in her studio that begged for her attention. She felt like an old lady.

The doctor told her she had two auto-immune diseases. One had a name she still couldn’t pronounce that affected her back, and the other was rheumatoid arthritis. The arthritis was primarily in her hands.

Her hands…that was how she made her living. As an artist. It was the way she moved the images in her head on to canvas…with colors and a brush. She still could, but it was getting harder. Just like it was getting harder to hold the pen, to write in her journal.

She took a good look at her hands. Her hands were not yet gnarled like most people with RA, although her knuckles were larger. She thought about her wedding rings and how she couldn’t get them over her knuckles now. She missed them. Instead of her beautiful rings, she wore a band that her husband bought years ago to wear when camping or gardening. The band was pretty, but it was a poor substitute for her wedding rings.

She thought about the tops of jars she couldn’t open and laughingly joked about with her husband. She thought about all those things people did with their hands, that they took for granted…including her. It was a sign that her body was betraying her.

With a sigh she picked up the pen and continued to write.

She wrote about the medications she was taking. Some were drugs she saw advertised on television – (like the ones with the long list of “side effects”) that before her diagnosis she would turn to her husband whilst laughing and say, “Yep, I’m running to the doctor for that one.”

Surprise! Never in a million years did she think she would ever be taking those medicines and more. They were scary sounding drugs with unknown long-term side effects. She learned how to inject herself with one of the medications just that morning. She wasn’t laughing now.

She continued to write pouring out her thoughts, filling page after page in her journal. She wrote as the sun waned, and as her tears slowly turned to anger.

You’d never know it to look at her – she didn’t look sick. She was grateful for that. No one paid attention when she would literally wring her hands as the pain increased, or when she had to sit down because exhaustion would suddenly overtake her. Or when she had to ask for help when arranging or hanging her art for a show. No, she didn’t look sick but yet, she was, on the inside.

Angrily, she wrote over and over, in big letters “I am sick and tired, of being sick and tired.”  She wrote that phrase until the anger left her.

She knew she would laugh again, soon.This wouldn’t define her, it was only a part of her.

“I don’t look sick – I never will.”  It had to be written at least one time.

She wrote the last line of that day’s entry: “Ok, pity party is over” and closed the journal.


This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Kurt, who gave me this prompt: “I’m sick.”  I challenged Wendryn with the prompt: “Life as you know it, will change tomorrow (and you’re not getting married).


2 thoughts on “But you don’t look sick…

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