I Look Healthy Now, Good Right?

No second transplant for me!  I’m building blood.  Big time!  I had my central line removed not long ago because I haven’t needed a transfusion in months.  Blood, platelets, doing great.  It has even been a month since my last GCSF shot!  I look healthier, stronger, happier.  If you didn’t know me, you wouldn’t know I was still recovering from complications from my bone marrow transplant, over 19 months ago.

I had emergency surgery about 6 weeks ago.  You see, Hannah and I went on our 2 year wedding anniversary trip after months of feeling great.  We took the train.  The night we got back home, an infection exploded in my right leg.  It swelled to 4 times its usual size, I spiked a 103 fever, and was rushed into the ICU with low vitals.  I was then told I needed to have surgery to confirm I didn’t have necrotizing fasciitis.  I didn’t, but to find out they cut two big chunks of flesh from my legs.  No stitches, just wet to dry dressings to heal from the inside out.  It still isn’t healed.  If I’m in long pants, nobody knows anything is wrong.

Since surgery, I’ve had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, once by ambulance.  The first time I was dismissed as having panic attacks due to being behind on my medication.  I was sent home, in agony.  The second time, pretty much the same thing, only I chose to leave once it became clear I was being treated like a mental case.  The next day I went to my clinic and my REAL doctors confirmed that my Graft Verses Host Disease of the gut was flaring up again.  I had to have my steroid taper stopped & reversed some.  This is also something you can’t see from the outside.

Okay Josh, so what’s the point?  We get it, you’re sick.  Why rant, what’s the theme?

Well here it is.  Nothing wrong with me is visible to the outside.  If nobody knew any better, I’d look as strong and able-bodied as anyone else.  And that is the problem.

You know those people you make fun of as lazy who take the elevator to the 2ND floor?  That’s me.  You know the young man who sits in the front of the bus and doesn’t offer his seat, seemingly so rude?  That’s me.  You know the guy who walks really slowly you make fun of?  That’s me.  I look fine from the outside.  Hell, I look better than some of you.  You have no idea what I’m going through.  You have no idea how I feel.  Just because I’m not old, grey, & wrinkly.  Just because I don’t use a walker or wheelchair, doesn’t mean I deserve to be judged.

So remember that, the next time you see someone pull into the handicapped spot, put up their placard, and walk into the store looking fine.  They may not be cheating the system.  Remember the next time someone walks slow, they might have to.  Remember the next time they take the elevator, they might not be lazy.

Remember most of all, it is not your place to judge.  You can live the healthiest lifestyle possible and this can still happen to you.  I hope for you that this never happens, but the numbers don’t favor your chances.

So don’t judge what you absolutely don’t know.  You never know when you could be on the other end.

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Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

3 thoughts on “I Look Healthy Now, Good Right?”

  1. It’s even worse when you are overwieght. Ask Bruce. He looks fine. I know he is bloated in pain and searching (well waiting and demanding the doctors to do something) for the cause of all the pain. Could it be mental? I think partially. But I also think there is some real pain. Might just be severe arthritis. (He didn’t exactly take care of himself as a young adult) but it could be something more severe that we need to rule out. I hate waiting. I hate people who take one look at someone and assume something. I am sorry you are experiencing the treatment of stereotyping from the public. It sucks. We all need to consider the unseen. Maybe that pissed off person just had their best friend die in a car accident? Maybe they are recovering from a complicated surgery or procedure, Maybe they had a hard early life that caused a slight physical deformity. Maybe they are trying to get home to a sick child or to school to pick up that sick child/grandchild. You never know.

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  2. I know this was posted a while ago, I came across it while browsing your archive but had to comment because that last part really got to me. I am one of those people that get pissed when (seemingly) healthy people take the elevator one floor. I never say anything but I grumble in my head and bitch about it to my friends, I’m going to stop that now. I needed this reminder that not all debilitating illness is physically visible and that the guy who slows my commute 15 seconds by getting on the elevator for one floor might be in crippling pain that I cannot see. I wanted to say thank you for reminding me of this.

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