Invisible Illnesses Month: If You Can’t See It…. It’s Still There
Scream. The thought occurred to me, scream for help. However, it was like a bad dream and when I opened my mouth I was unable to utter a single sound. Everyone around me went on laughing and enjoying the afternoon, seemingly unaware of my paralytic terror. I had never felt anything like the raging pulses of warmth spreading through my body, my mouth was tingling, my hands disconnected from my body becoming completely foreign objects. As quickly as it started, it stopped.
As the episodes became more regular the doctors became more creative. Migraines, blood sugar, anxiety, drugs or perhaps, I was making it all up. I was given drugs I didn’t need, denied drugs and test I did need because I didn’t have insurance then when I was insured it was a pre existing condition, however vague it may be.
Millions of Americans are living with what are known as Invisible Illnesses. They suffer in silence as their symptoms are visible. This includes conditions such as Fibromyalgia, MS, Diabetes, and many more. According to information from the US Census Bureau, over 100 million people suffer from a chronic illness, and less than 6% of them are considered visible by use of wheelchair, cane, and other obvious physical impairments. The fact is many people fighting chronic illness may appear perfectly healthy.
My chronic illness ended up being caused by a mass in my brain. I was having partial seizures. I had learned to live with them until I started having gran mal seizures and finally got the right tests done and found out about a lump in my prefrontal cortex. My reaction; closure, relief, answers, hope.
September celebrates National Invisible Illness Awareness. It asks that we all take time to educate ourselves on the struggle of the perceived healthy and withhold judgment. Statistics from the CDC state that many people suffering chronic illness are young; 60% are between the ages of 18-64. Just because someone appears healthy doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling.