The problem with chronic illness

March 30, 2023

It is so difficult for people to comprehend chronic illness.

I was in the cancer clinic today for a routine checkup but dislocated my ankle a week ago, so I have a big splint on my leg. A worker at the clinic walks by, looks at me with a smile, and says “ouch!”, pointing at my leg. There are literally people extremely sick from cancer treatment ALL around me and this person points out my silly foot injury. Yes it hurt, that’s true, but it was nothing compared to the pain I felt from cancer treatment and the loneliness I felt and still feel from treatment and the uncertainty of death.

How is it so difficult for people to SEE that? They might be bald or they might not, but they all look into empty space with the same empty expression, the same dead eyes.

A broken foot will heal. It will be difficult for a short amount of time. Cancer, and many other long-term or chronic illnesses, will not heal in a short amount of time. Start seeing these people. Continue reminding your friends suffering from long-term illness that their pain does not go unseen. It may be impossible to understand, but acknowledging it does make people feel less alone.

Written by Matt Gregg, a UI engineer who lives and works in Minneapolis, MN

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