Quote Tuesday


You can build a future out of anything. A scrap, a flicker.
The desire to go forward, slowly, one foot at a time.  ~Lauren Oliver


But, You Don’t Look Sick

“Dear God, I want to thank you for being close to me so far this day. With your help, I haven’t been inpatient, lost my temper, grumpy, judgmental, or envious of getting one. But, I’ll be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think I’ll really need your help!”

I stumbled across this prayer while reading a Kindle sample of the book “You Don’t Look Sick: Living Well With Invisible Chronic Illness,” by Joy Selak and Dr. Steven Overman. The prayer was sent to Ms. Selak by a friend with fibromyalgia–a condition that I know well.  Nevertheless, neither fibromyalgia patients, nor any group for that matter, can stake any special claim to this prayer, as it has universal appeal to each and every one of us.  Anyway, the prayer, though humorous and most mornings, all too appropriate, is not the real reason for this post.  

In November 2010, I began a blog post titled “You Don’t Look Sick,” much like the title of the book.  The post was in response to yet another “but, you don’t look sick” encounter that occurred earlier in the day.  In that particular encounter, I was just getting out of my car at the grocery store where I’d stopped to go to the pharmacy. Before I could get both feet on the ground, a woman, that I did not know, violated what any reasonable person would agree was my personal boundary.  One of the store managers sheepishly stood behind her. (I knew him well.)  Pointing her little bony fingers in my face, she said to him, “See what I told you. She is one of those people illegally parking in spaces reserved for disabled people.” You see, in my haste to get to the pharmacy, I’d forgotten to put up my hang tag. Dennis, the store manager said, “Lydia,  would you please use your hang tag?,” and he turned around leaving me to deal with the still unsatisfied and irate woman. 

She proceeded to accuse me of illegally parking with someone else’s reserved  parking hang tag and threatened to call the police and more.  I made a sincere effort to calm the lady, but there was no reasoning with her.  Finally, she uttered the words that I’ve heard time and time again, “You don’t look sick!” so that tag cannot be yours.” At this point, my patience and attempts at reason were spent and I slammed the car door and stormed into the store, before I said something that I’d surely regret later. 

Long after I returned home and the immediate sting of the incident had passed, the woman’s words continued to reverberate in my mind. I have no doubt that there are those who will read this post and consider my response as unjustified, overly sensitive, and in the category of ‘making a big to-do about nothing.’  For those without an “invisible chronic illness” or with no contact to one who has such as illness, it is often difficult to understand what it is like for those of us who do.  I mean, who can blame you when there are patients who are still confronting doctors who refuse to acknowledge their condition because it cannot be substantiated by x-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, blood work or any other means of diagnostic tools.  The underlying message becomes, in order to be deemed “sick,” there must be objective evidence supporting your illness; for example, a broken limb or a bald head (indicating a potential chemotherapy recipient or cancer patient).  The problem is further compounded when pain is the primary symptom because there is no objective way to measure it. 

On its’ face, “you don’t look sick,” (often with the emphasis on the word ‘look’) is seemingly innocuous and usually said with no malicious or bad intent.  Nevertheless, to those of us in the throes of a chronic, invisible illness; this otherwise harmless statement, raises yet another obstacle in the fight against the illness. If wishes were true, I’d gladly turn over both the hang tag and the parking space.  

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Calling All Angels

As a child, one of the very first prayers that I memorized was: 

“Guardian angel, my guardian dear. For whose God’s love, entrusts me here. Ever this day, be at my side. To light and guard to rule and guide. Amen.”  

To my young, innocent self, the prayer served as a balm against my fears, and an assurance that no matter what, I was loved and protected. What a gift to a young child — the gift of peace of mind. As I grew older and much more skeptical, my belief in angels is as strong as ever.  I believe that there are angels about us, some seen and unseen, at the ready, looking out for us and ready to protect us at a split seconds notice. I can think of numerous instances when I am convinced that they have protected me from harm. It appears that I am not alone; since over 50% of Americans hold similar beliefs. http://j.mp/pI3FcE

So, when I happened upon this song, the title alone piqued my interest.  The song, “Calling All Angels,” by Jane Siberry, is a hauntingly beautiful song that, for me, conveys numerous messages about life, how we view it and how we live it.  As an initial matter, it is a reminder that as we travel along our journey, though we may feel lonely, we need never be alone. Whatever our circumstance, we are never alone in this world. Next, we “call our angels,” not with the expectation that they will shield or prevent life’s eventualities, but, among other things, as a source of strength, guidance, support, and compassion, so that we might better face life’s challenges. 

In addition, and I believe, the most crucial message: some suffering and pain is largely unavoidable– that is a fact of life.  We will experience “the lows,” whether we choose to call them challenges, obstacles, pains, or whatever, it simply does not matter.  You must and will face them.  In life, we cannot experience the highs without the challenges wrought by “the lows.”  They are indeed two sides of the same coin, and there is no one without the other. It is by facing and overcoming the struggles, obstacles and pains, that we are provided the opportunity to achieve growth, understanding and wisdom. It is through our bouts with such obstacles that the highs are even sweeter. 

I hope that this song reaches the ears of anyone who feels lost, abandoned, and alone in what can sometimes seem a lonely and uncaring world. Perhaps, he or she will come to understand that even in the midst of their  darkest days, there is always light, since where there is darkness, there is also light.  They, too, are two sides of the same coin. 

Blessings, love, and light, lydia 

Calling All Angels lyrics

Santa Maria, Santa Teresa, Santa Anna, Santa Susannah
Santa Cecilia, Santa Copelia, Santa Domenica, Mary Angelica
Frater Achad, Frater Pietro, Julianus, Petronilla
Santa, Santos, Miroslaw, Vladimir
and all the rest

a man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries
and high above the church bells start to ring
and as the heaviness the body oh the heaviness settles in
somewhere you can hear a mother sing

then it’s one foot then the other as you step out onto the road
how much weight? how much weight?
then it’s how long? and how far?
and how many times before it’s too late?

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this one
don’t leave me alone
calling all angels
calling all angels
we’re cryin’ and we’re hurtin’
and we’re not sure why..

and every day you gaze upon the sunset
with such love and intensity
it’s almost…it’s almost as if
if you could only crack the code
then you’d finally understand what this all means

but if you could…do you think you would
trade in all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you’d miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this one
don’t leave me alone
callin’ all angels
callin’ all angels
we’re tryin’
we’re hopin’
we’re hurtin’
we’re lovin’
we’re cryin’
we’re callin’
’cause we’re not sure how this goes.

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