Monday, September 13, 2010
Invisible Illness Awareness Week -- Blogging for the Cause
It's Invisible Illness Awareness Week! Half of Americans live with a chronic health condition and 96% of them are "invisible" -- just because we aren't in wheelchairs does not mean we are not legally entitled to park in handicapped spaces. Some of us are on our own two feet through sheer willpower; a wheelchair would be less tiring, but stubbornness keeps us upright.
More than once, I've told friends that I am volunteering to push their wheelchair not because they need the help, but because I need the wheelchair to lean on for support. The blind leading the blind, the halt carrying the lame. But because I'm the one who's upright, it's assumed that I'm the healthy one, and people don't understand why I can't leave my friend to go run the errand we're asking them to run.
The friend who has been my guide through the world of living with chronic illness keeps a box of brochures in her car. Anyone who comments on "a healthy young woman" parking in a crip space gets an educational lecture about her condition (and invisible disabilities in general). She may look healthy when she gets out of the car, but by the time she gets back after even just a short shopping trip she's dragging.
I may look healthy, but when I get back from the grocery, only the cold stuff gets put away. I have to rest for a while before I deal with the non-perishables. But since that happens in my own house, no one outside is aware of just how limited I am.