Friday, 9 January 2015

Don't Say Stupid Shit

Be forewarned. There is swearing in this entry. I can help it, but I won't; some things just need to  be surrounded by expletives.

Today another PALS online posted a thing about what not to say to someone with a "chronic" illness. It's a list of the kinds of crap that I hear often, the kinds of mindless things people say because they don't know what else to say, because their brains don't have the power to express empathy in any meaningful form. Some of these things piss me off so much, and so often I have to smile politely and pretend that the shit that just came out of someone's mouth is actually meaningful.

I think the biggest single one on the list of 12 is the one I write about so often; "but you don't look sick", or some other inane variant thereof, where people think that you only look sick if you look deathly. My favourite variant is "Other than the wheelchair, you look great." It's like saying to the dead person in a casket, "Other than being dead, you look great." Before you tell me I look great, ask me how I am feeling. Then you will know. If I feel great, then you get off scott free. If I feel shitty, which is pretty much how I feel all the time, then find some other mindless drivel to spew.

The next most annoying thing on this list of stupid things to not say is what I call the inane comparison. The list has "My friend has real bad back problems but he is still working." The variant that drives me crazy is when people say shit like "I broke my leg once and I was in a wheelchair for three months. It was awful." All I want to say back is "Well, dick-head, you seem to be walking just fine now, so walk right the fuck out of here" Your temporary time in a wheelchair is absolutely no comparison to my life sentence. You always knew you would get out; I know that I will never get out.

Coming in a close, but perpetually stupid third, is the advice about how I should change my diet, or take such and such a vitamin, or do some weird, fake, stupid fucking exercise program. Don't you get it, you dumb shit, that stuff doesn't help me! Just because your aunt's neighbor's cousin's dog's third owner got better by rubbing eucalyptus leaves on his testicles doesn't mean my ALS will slow down if I eat like a koala bear. For those of you who talk about "eastern medicine", look up good old Chairman Mao. He died from ALS. All the mystical shit you call eastern medicine didn't manage to help him.

Then there is special mention for "I am praying for you." I appreciate that a for a great many people, prayer is a self-calming and deeply internal spiritual experience. I appreciate that, for those who can do nothing else, this at least makes them feel like they are helping. My problem is the irrationality of it; why pray to a God for healing when it was this same God who gave me this disease in the first place? Pray for acceptance, pray for peace; sure, but healing? I think the prize winner for stupid responses in prayer goes to the PALS who first posted the list. Some mutton head said to him that his ALS progression was slow because their prayer group prayed for him and they had a good success rate! Is it a competition, some sort of winner/loser kind of thing? Do I need to hire a better prayer group, one with a good success rate, so I can be relieved of this killer illness?

There are 8 other things you should never say to someone dealing with a chronic illness, or terminal illness. Check yourself and see if you know what they are, and if you have ever said them. Then, please, strike them from your lexicon. I don't need that shit. If you really want to be helpful, how about paying my mortgage for a couple of months?

1 comment:

  1. Ouch I totally understand your need to vent about this! As a person with an "invisible" condition, I've heard my share of comments -- some from well meaning people who are just ignorant of what life is really like for someone with health issues, and some from people who are missing the compassion chromosome I guess....they stood in the wrong line up for humane character attributes.

    Some people seem to get it and others need to put on another man's boots and walk a mile and another mile and another mile and so on and so on...before they get it...maybe.