You dont LOOK sick


#1

Oh gosh, have you heard that one recently?

Today I heard it twice! The first time I wanted to scream. The second time I just stared at the person with a blank look. What do you say to it?

the classics:

You don’t look stupid.

Thanks!, “not sick” is exactly what I was going for when I got dressed this morning.

Diabetes doesn’t = sick. (but then try to explain why I had the islet transplant and they just don’t get it)


ok, I don’t look, feel, act sick. I don’t consider diabetes, sick. Chronically ill yes. sick no.

to me anyway, Chronic illness is when you have daily tasks you need to do to avoid feeling bad or to avoid complications down the road. Sick is, well, having the flu or some other thing that makes you feel really really crappy.

So people don’t understand when I pull out my meds to take at lunch/breakfast/work (I start work early in the am so my “lunch” is at 8am, right when its time to take my meds). I take the majority of my medications in the morning. I take 8 pills at lunch/breakfast. It looks like a lot of drugs. I carry others with me. Some are taken as needed and I dont often take them but I’d rather have them on me when I do need them. Anyway, it looks like a lota lota drugs. Sooo, today, I was digging around looking for one particular med that seemed to have gotten lost in the black hole that is my purse and a woman I work with says “wow, you take a lot of medicine, you don’t look sick, someone said you had a transplant but I didn’t believe them. I believe them now. wow I didn’t know you were so sick sorry!”. Me: “um, thanks?”.

She irritated me, but let me be honest, this particular person often irritates me. Today was just personal. Then later in the day someone else said to me. “<previously mentioned lady> said you were really sick. You don’t look sick. I’m praying for you anyway”. This was where the blank stare came into play. What do you say to that? “You don’t look sick, but I’m praying for you anyway”? I felt like she might as well have said "I think you’re a faker but I’ll pray just in case you aren’t’. Again, “gee, thanks”.

So, today was frustrating. I’m not sick. All things considered I’m pretty darned healthy. And people assume, and in most cases rightly so, that if you’ve had a transplant you must have been deathly ill. I wasn’t. My diabetes was difficult to control. I had hypoglycemia unawareness to the point that I’d wonder what I’d been doing for the past hour or so and then think “oh, maybe I’m low”. Or, I’d test (120, good), go for a walk, come home, test (29), test again (26), think crap and 30 min later think “did I eat? maybe I should eat, no I think I’ll take a nap instead, the floor seems really nice…”. I have some other complications, vision issues, protein in my urine, some minor neuropathy, but I wasn’t so sick that death was following me around with a sickle. I don’t tell many people about the transplant for that reason. I feel like the liar “you don’t look sick” implies that I am when I talk about it to people that don’t understand diabetes.

I know everybody with a chronic illness has heard it. I find it insulting. I want to know how others respond to it. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive to the whole thing. Do you respond that you’re not sick or do you just let it go? What I want to do is insult them back, but then I’ve never promised to be nice… :wink:


#2

I hate that, too. I usually don’t make an issue of it because I feel like it’s their ignorance and it’s not fun for me to enlighten them, but sometimes it depends on my mood, y’know? It really pisses me off inside, though.


#3

I have nad db for 33 years and it also used to realy ■■■■ me off. Now, if someone says this, I just reply, “thank you” and try to move on.
I had a big lesson a few months ago when I was at an orthopedic clinic for my trigger finger. The PA and I were chatting and I said “oh, did you see on my chart that I’m Type 1”. He replied, “yes, so am I - since I was 6”. I then blurted out “but you don’t look diabetic”. Afterwards I spent a lot of time contemplating why I had said that - how am I , a pwd, definng how other pwd’s “shouild look”? Since then I’ve tried to reframe this. Old habits die hard.


#4

For many out there, ignorance is bliss and unfortunately, there are far too many people in complete BLISS. I really don’t run into comments about my Diabetes because I keep it very discrete. Not because I am trying to hide it, but more because of what you are speaking of. I also think (and I may be wrong) that I don’t have people come up to me or comment about it because of the way I look. I have a lot of tattoos and many of them are visible on my arms. So I think it is somewhat of an intimidation factor as well (even though, once you talk to me. I am so different than what would have been expected.)