The blessing of a diagnosis.Posted: February 24, 2014
I’ve felt ill for a while. I would say I’ve felt “severely” ill (that is, ill enough that it starts to effect my everyday life) since around November of last year. While I’ve felt awful, been unable to get out of bed and been unable to generally function in the world, I’ve never had any solid “here is a thing that says something might be wrong” apart from my own feelings.
Until today. It wasn’t anything massive – just a letter saying there was some elevated inflammation in my blood tests I had done last week (which left me with a wicked bruise, by the way). But this was the first, printed-on-paper thing that might tell me there’s something wrong. And my first reaction was “Oh, it’s probably only a mistake, they’ll probably find out it’s fine when they do the next one.” Isn’t that a strange reaction? I’ve been wanting something concrete to come up, to show that yes there IS something wrong, and as soon as something does I dismiss it.
We’re always taught to play down illness. “Oh I’m fine”, “Oh it’s nothing”, “Don’t worry about me!”. We don’t want to have to admit something might be wrong with us. Doing that almost feels like a failing on our part. Like we’ve been weak enough to allow something to happen to our bodies, like we’ve been silly enough to let ourselves get chronically ill. Like we weren’t trying hard enough. On the flip-side, there’s the “Stop moaning about it”, “just get over yourself” aspect of being ill. If you ARE ill, you need to do it quietly and not go on about it. We’re told to play it down, pretend nothing is wrong, make light of the situation.
But, I am ill. I can’t change that. Playing it down isn’t going to do me any good. It’s not going to make me get better. It’s really difficult to accept that something might be wrong. But not accepting it isn’t going to help anything.
I have my first rheumatology appointment in two days. It’s the first step on the road to a diagnosis. It’s scary to admit that something right be wrong, but it’s necessary.