This Ain’t A Contest

Depending on how charitable I’m feeling, I’m filing this under either “Misplaced Empathy” or “Really Bad Attempts at One-Upping.” The same person who in the past has sent me emails, ostensibly concerned about my health but always managing to talk about his/her own health issues (like it’s a competition and he/she is looking for pity points or something; I don’t get it), has just sent another one.

My response was met with a follow-up email about how “I know what you mean” because this person has tendonitis. Really — tendonitis? Said person goes on to play the victim card, trying to convince me we’re in the same boat. (The irony is that I have tendonitis too [right elbow] and suffered a flare following surgery, which made moving about nearly impossible, as I had to lift my swollen body with just one arm. Still, the pain I felt in my abdomen was so severe I was unaware of my arm most of the time. But I seriously digress.)

I know it’s a bit ridiculous all around, but I know how this person thinks and have seen it many times. The underlying suggestion is that I shouldn’t feel too special because he/she has just as many problems. Others have dealt with this as well, from innocuous conversation (like our emails) to outright manipulation and attempts at blackballing.

Does this person actually think I define myself by my illnesses? OK, then; let’s trade places. I would love more than anything to go back to how I was before I got sick. That’s the real Boloby — the onstage spaz, the hyperactive (hell, the active) guy who simultaneously explored the inner recesses of his mind and the outer limits of time and space. I used to go outside and enjoy vigorous activity, and despite an inherent lack of coordination, I was not too shabby on a skateboard.

So forgive me if I’m insulted that you would belittle my situation, reducing it some absurd contest or game of comparison. Every day I go online and read about people who really are in a situation similar to mine. Some of them have it much easier, but they’re still scared and in pain, and I try my best to help them, listening to their stories and leaving my problems out of it unless my experience could prove useful somehow. And for the many people I meet who have it much worse than I do, I can only try my best to empathize and sound encouraging.

Playing the “sick card” only works if you’re really sick. And when that’s the case, you’re not really “playing” anything. Trust me. I never thought I’d be an object of pity, and it’s certainly not something I’ve aspired to in any way. I arrived here only after traveling down a long, winding road full of potholes*, rude motorists**, blind pedestrians,*** misplaced street signs**** and other shitty, half-baked metaphors. I resisted it for as long as I could, always playing down how bad my prognosis really is. But I can’t pretend anymore.

At this point the only thing to do is go with the flow. If that means having to curry sympathy favors, then I suppose I’ll just have to oblige. So when I ask you to share with your friends on social media, well, that’s just custom. And who are we to question that?

* Health problems
** Incompetent health “professionals” and bureaucrats
*** Caregivers who know less than I do (but who are
**** Insufficient treatment

This entry was posted in Crohn's Disease, General Disease, Liver Transplant, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, surgery. Bookmark the permalink.

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