Monday, September 9, 2013

Pain Awareness Month and Invisible Illness Week

September is National Pain Awareness Month, and September 9-15 is Blogging for Invisible Illness Week.
We're blogging to raise your awareness of the pain we're aware of every day, and the invisible illnesses that keep us from being able to "be all that you can be" – you can't maximize your potential when a few minutes of chores sends you back to bed the rest of the day.
Invisible disabilities include lupus, diabetes, chronic pain, epilepsy, lung conditions such as asthma or chronic bronchitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, bad back, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, mental illness, learning disabilities, ADHD, cancer, traumatic brain injury, and autism.  96% of people with chronic medical conditions show no outward signs of their illness – for example, you can't tell someone has asthma until they're in the middle of an attack.
Half of all Americans have a pre-existing condition.  10% of Americans have a disabling condition – just because someone doesn't walk with a cane or use a wheelchair doesn't mean they aren't disabled.  In my case, walking with a cane would cause worsening of problems with my hands, arms and shoulders, so I'm avoiding that as long as possible.  But because I force myself to walk without an assistive device, many people assume that I'm just lazy when I sit in the handicapped seating on the bus, or just cheap when I ask about the disabled discount on Amtrak.  Gee, I'm sorry I don't fit your stereotype.
Since I've taken the advice to use a wheeled cart instead of carrying things, I've noticed that a lot of people treat me like I'm homeless ... no matter how I'm dressed.  Apparently the thought that someone with a back problem or a heart problem or an arm/shoulder problem shouldn't be carrying things never crosses their minds....
About a quarter of people with an invisible condition have some mobility limitation.  Just because you don't see an assistive device doesn't mean the person who parked in the crip space isn't legally entitled to park there. 

If you write about your invisible illness, post a link at:

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