In being a ‘professional’ sick person, you will encounter people’s pity on a regular basis. It will mainly be well meant of course; a head tilt and pitiful glance from a nurse caring for you, a fellow patient watching as you violently throw up your cold toast, or a doctor looking at your back end and shaking his head disdainfully. These particular looks may even come from those closest to you. It will feel very strange. Especially if you happen to be someone who prides themselves on staying ‘normal’ in the face of a distinctly abnormal illness. It can feel as though you are being treated as a second class citizen. You are not. At least not by 99% of these people.
What can appear as pity may just be consideration and hurt at having to watch you suffer. Let’s be honest, we could all use a bit of consideration from time to time. Chiefly when you are feeling awful all day, every day. Inflammatory bowel disease and all chronic illnesses are hard work. They are challenging, discouraging and physically and mentally exhausting. And that’s just the good bits! LOL OMG TEEHEE!
But what of those without a long term illness? Do we as patients pity them? I suppose it would be easy to feel pity for the majority of those ‘well’ people, after having been through the health-mill. Without having been at death’s door they may never fully be able to appreciate the simpler things in life! How it feels to truly appreciate a hot bath, or a day off, an extra hour in bed or simply be able to get through the day without 45 toilet trips.
I know I for one, have a new found respect for the healthcare system since I became ill. I hadn’t realised just how much we take doctors and nurses for granted and how (literally) life-or-death their jobs can be on a daily basis. I’ve cried on nurses’ shoulders and they’ve listened while I’ve wallowed in misery, their jobs are so, so much more than merely attending to cannulas and giving bed baths. People seem to forget how much they tend to patients emotional needs as well as physical. That’s why is OK if they give me a glance that says they perhaps pity me. I’m their patient.
It’s also tolerable if my Mum tilts her head and says how sorry she is for me, because it’s done out of love. Sometimes it’s important to choose your battles. Before you get irate at someone’s glance in what you perceive to be the wrong direction, take a moment to decide if there is anything more than genuine care behind it. You’ll usually find the people who ‘pity’ you want nothing more than for you to be well.