In our current society, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, never stopping to appreciate that beauty that is around us. We are in such a hurry to get from point A to point B that we become blind to what is right in front of us. Something that is completely visible suddenly becomes invisible and often forgotten about. What would happen if we stopped to enjoy nature? What would happen if we started to see what was right in front of us? It may seem like an absurd concept to believe everything happens for a reason and that each of us do things the way we do for a reason. We never know what the person next to us is going through, yet we assume the worst in those around us as to why they didn’t do something they should have. No one is immune to this so let’s think about this for a minute.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? What if a hiker finds the tree on the ground, do they think it’s lazy for being there? No. They assume an external force caused the tree to fall. What if a sudden storm blew in, or someone purposefully cut the tree down with a chainsaw? To the tree, these are unexpected acts of force from an outside source causing it to fall. It’s not the trees fault. Although the tree wants to stand tall to fulfill its earthly duty of being a tree, it now has no choice but to lay on the ground. The tree will remain on the ground indefinitely as it slowly accepts the harshness of the forest elements breaking it down and invading it. The tree will not stand or thrive until someone comes along and stands it up, fitting it with supports so that it can stand once it is left alone. Ever since the tree was initially knocked down it cannot stand on its own again. The tree will need full support standing indefinitely. Even if someone comes around and stands the tree back up and secures it up with full supports, another unexpected storm or chainsaw could come around knocking the tree back to the ground. When the hiker comes along, they only see the aftermath. They don’t see how many times the tree has fallen, the support it needs to stand, or the trauma endured that caused it to fall. This is all invisible to the hiker; they simply see a tree laying on the forest floor.
Now, let’s pretend that the hiker represents society as a whole. The tree represents each individual, unique person. The storm and chainsaw represent the onset of a chronic disease and their associated flares. The supports keeping the tree up represent only necessary and crucial medications and therapies. Lying on the ground decaying as nature runs its course and insects/animals pick away at it highlight disease progression when chronic illness is not being properly managed or subdued- just as nature/disease runs its toll on the body without the necessary and therapies needed for sustainability. If a hiker can walk through a forest, see a tree on the ground, and conclude that something caused it to fall, then why can’t society in general accept that if a person doesn’t look sick, they automatically believe that person is fine- just lazy. What if the hiker could hit play on a screen each time they came across a fallen tree to see how it fell so that the outside force that brought the tree down wasn’t invisible? What if a person with an invisible illness’ internal symptoms and disease activity suddenly wasn’t invisible? What if I walked around in day to day life with my IV line from infusions and hydrations left in? What if I had needles taped to my abdomen where I receive weekly injections? Instead of a face, what if I had the skull and hazard sign for toxins and hazardous materials, chemo agents, and chemicals that I’m forced to ingest daily? Instead of breaking down, dissolving, and digesting the copious amount of medications, what if they sat on my tongue attached as if they were glued so you and I both were constantly seeing them and being reminded. Now, the medications necessary are no longer invisible. What if my body lit up like a heat map? Only instead of it being a heat map, it was a pain and symptom map. As the pain and symptoms of each area of my body bettered or worsened, that area would change from blue/green to red, red being the most intense. What if my pain went from invisible to visible so you would understand that I’m not lazy or seeking drugs- I’m just trying to improve the quality of my days? What if all my doctors followed me around everywhere I went like a posse or body guards. What if my catheter was on the outside of my body and clothes, visible to all? What if a scalpel hung around my neck like a necklace- ready to go into battle the moment another cyst and infection appeared, or if I needed more lymph nodes removed? What if my scars had dates on them from when I got them? What if a battery bar hovered over my head with the percentage of battery (energy) that I currently had left? Imagine this- my battery level is low, and my charger (sleeping) was broken or not as efficient so I couldn’t fully charge up again This is how it feels when pain and disease symptoms alter your ability to sleep. Rest isn’t always exactly that and can sometimes lead to more pain and stiffness if not done properly. Imagine that. Imagine having to practice how you sleep and use trial and error to find the right supportive positioning pillows and how often to set your alarm to wake back up to move in the middle of the night in hopes you can walk in the morning a little quicker? What if I had my lab values as tattoos? What if my digestive system was Bluetooth enabled and you could see the pain, nausea, and digestive problems as my body accepted the liquid nutrition that I live off. Instead of constantly scrolling through my phone, I instead sat there updating medical lists such as providers and medications, and going through the stack of medical bills trying to figure out how to pay them all. What if my emotions were on my face and my heart was on my sleeve? What if every tear I’ve ever shed was collected in a bucket and carried with me? Would you still compare this to your grandmother’s arthritis? Would you still think I was lazy when I called off work or took an extra nap? Would you still be bold and come up to me with confidence and criticize me for taking these medications and push your cure of natural supplements and exercise? Would you still feel good about berating me for parking in a handicap spot? Why do we go off our own perception of something we’ve never experienced rather than what we hear and see from someone who has? I will tell you this now; open your eyes and begin to see with them. Open your ears and begin to hear with them. Open your heart and begin to feel with it. Don’t feel emotions from your brain when your heart is the center of your body; the portal for emotions from your soul and the outside world. Why is the difference between visibility and invisibility the difference in treatment, acceptance, and support? Having had this my entire life and never knowing a life without it I do not understand the other side of things. I do know one thing. You wouldn’t tell me that I’m too young, exaggerating, and that I don’t look sick so it can’t be that bad. If the invisible suddenly became visible would you still look at me and think I was lazy, or strong for going on and enduring anyways?