Invisible Illnesses Are For Real

Being confined to a wheelchair it was obvious to those I met that I was not as able-bodied as others. However, people living with chronic pain or illness often don’t look any different from those around them. It is difficult for people to understand the struggle you experience when you don’t look sick or in pain.

My second bout with a rather rare autoimmune disease required that I take heavy doses of prednisone and chemotherapy. This was not an option. The autoimmune disease would have attached my kidneys and lungs and eventually it would have led to death. When I told people I was on chemotherapy the first thing they said was, “What kind of cancer do you have?” Cancer is a scary word, but by no means the only life threatening reason to have chemotherapy.

This is true of many of us. We experience “invisible illness.” What experiences do we share in this invisible universe?

We may experience guilt, embarrassment, and isolation. We may feel it is our fault that we got sick or that our bodies broke down in some way – as if it’s a personal failing on our part. We live in a culture that worships wellness. It’s okay [...] continue the story

Itchy and Scratchy Lessons Learned

By Preet Bhogal

I went through a lot of versions of this piece. I narrated it, wrote it longhand, typed it on my laptop, even jotted down notes on my phone but nothing felt right. I thought of how I wanted to say it then questioned myself and started over completely. I took a lot of breaks to check Facebook, the latest celebrity gossip, and watch reruns of the Simpsons. I even took a break from taking a break to read up on the psychology of procrastination. During this whole process all I really learned were trivialities about Facebook friends and celebrities, and that I have way too many episodes of The Simpsons memorized.

I still had not written a damn thing about my experience as a patient with a lifelong skin condition.

And I have a lot to write about because I have over thirty years of experience as a patient suffering from a chronic skin condition. I mean, the first symptoms of my eczema appeared when Joe Clark was Prime Minister! That was a pretty long time ago. The Simpsons weren’t even in reruns! There were new episodes of The Jeffersons! Madonna’s first album wasn’t even out yet!

There is so much [...] continue the story