Have you ever called in sick to work? I’m sure you have. So, while you were home sick did you watch TV? Were you able to go to the kitchen and make yourself something to eat? Did you make it to the bathroom with enough strength to shower? You did? I see.
Well now, apparently, you’re not actually sick, and your ass needs to get to work.
Why am I saying that? Well, it’s perfectly clear. If you can do anything besides lie perfectly still on your couch or bed, then you’re not sick and you should be working, right? What’s that? Oh, I see. You’re trying to tell me that while you are ill, there will be brief interludes where you’re capable of engaging in activities that help you to feel less miserable.
That’s good to know. With that in mind, let me ask you: why does that logic apply to you and your puny little three-day flu, but not to people who are struggling with lifelong chronic illnesses? Don’t look now, but your hypocrisy is showing.
You know who I’m talking to. It’s you, the people who judge the chronically ill and decide that they should never do anything fun, that they must lock themselves away from society never to be seen again simply because they have the audacity to suffer from an incurable illness.
There are 168 hours in the week. If someone who has a chronic illness is lucky enough to be able to have just four hours out of those 168 where they feel almost human, where they can pretend to engage with life the way they did before they became sick then they are damn well entitled to do so. More importantly, when they do choose to enjoy themselves it’s absolutely none of your business.
Who cares if they’re swimming and they have fibromyalgia? Exercise in general (and swimming in particular) is a medically-approved therapy for many people with fibromyalgia, and lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and a host of myriad other so-called invisible illnesses. Even if their doctor didn’t tell them to exercise, who cares? If it brings them some joy, if it helps them feel alive for that brief amount of time they’re capable of doing it, then they can do it.
You know what else the chronically ill can do? They can go out to dinner. They can go clothes shopping. They shop for groceries, see a movie and do anything else that a “normal” person would enjoy doing. People who suffer with chronic pain and chronic illnesses are entitled to live a normal life, to the extent that they feel they can. It is not your place, ever, to say “that’s not okay.”
Still not convinced? Think of it this way: would you do that to your kids? If you had kids and they got sick would you tell them, “Nope, sorry, Timmy/Suzie. You can’t watch your favorite TV shows. We’re not going to read you stories, you don’t get a hot bath with fun little floaty toys in it, and we’re basically going to lock you in the closet until you get better because being sick should be as miserable as possible.”? I certainly hope not. So then, why does human decency and compassion have an “age-out” clause? Perhaps your time would be better spent pondering that question instead of dreaming up new ways to add pain to the lives of those who already have quite enough pain in them.
The bottom line is this: the chronically ill have every right to squeeze as much joy, happiness, and fun (yes, fun!) from their lives as they can. Even if it’s only for two or three hours out of the 168 hours in a week.
Of course, that’s just my opinion.