Another lovely day in Panama City. My sweet hubby took the day off to start his spring break a day early. The only thing he wasn’t counting on was being sick. He has a cold he so lovingly shared with me. So instead of being on the greens we tended the dogs and shuffled around the house coughing and hacking. I think it’s more allergy induced but Lance feels it’s certain death and we’re not long for this world.
We both feel like crap but I’m pretty sure it’s just a cold. Colds are no fun, but they are not that big a deal in my opinion. I should say my hubby is rarely sick. I on the other hand, am perpetually sick with a few semi feel good days mixed in.
With being sick more times than not with pain, dizziness etc I just kind of just keep on keeping on, when I have a cold etc. My DH on the other hand really takes being sick hard. While I try to be patient I admit I don’t really and truly feel empathetic. Having a cold or stomach bug is not life threatening and does pass. Chronic illness stays for the long haul.
He had a bug several weeks ago and I truly felt badly for him because he looked really sick. But this time we have the same funk, but it’s a cold, NOT the Black Plague. My thinking is suck it up buttercup, you’ll live. I had a hard time feeling bad for him when I’m dealing with the same cold plus nerve pain and normal MS bullshit that I deal with daily.
With all of that I thought to myself; do I have an issue with empathy? I don’t feel badly for someone with a cold or bug or a back ache. I figure it will pass and they’ll be fine. It’s just part of life. I used to be the most kind hearted person out there. Now I’m kind of like, really you have a back ache from lifting something that you shouldn’t have? Poor you, I hadn’t slept in two days from spasms. My spasms aren’t self inflicted, your backache is.
My pain isn’t something I bring on, it just is. I always say MS is the gift that keeps on giving. Trust me she gives more than I care to take. So when I hear someone complain I kind of shut down. Does this make me a bad person? Not real sure. I do know that if I only had a cold I’d be one happy beotch.
So we medicated and went about our day. I went out with the pups and remembered about the golden retriever that keeps coming into our yard. Looks like a nice enough dog but I’d hate for my dogs to run across him in their yard. It wouldn’t be a good scene at all. While they are good pups I know they’d lose their shit if they found a dog in the yard they feel is theirs. Last summer a pekinese ran into our yard and Hamm slung him across the yard by the scruff of his neck. It wasn’t pretty but in Hamm’s defense it is their yard. So I went to the owner’s house. No answer when I knocked. Lance and I agreed a note was in order. If anything for the safety of the golden retriever.
We ran errands, the dreaded Walmart for more cold meds etc then off to my neuro to sign off on paperwork for my new DMD Gilenya. I forgot all about the note until I saw the little boy that lives in that house outside playing with a kite. Looks like a nice enough kid about 9 or so. He’s always outside playing, which in my opinion is a good thing. Kids don’t spend enough time outdoors any more.
When I’ve seen this little guy in the past I assumed his mom was inside the house and keeping an eye on him. So today Lance and I crossed the street and asked him if his mom or anyone was home. He said no, so I let him know that his dog keeps coming to my yard and that could be very dangerous because of my dogs. I then went on to tell him that if his mom had any questions she should feel free to come to my house and I’d be happy to talk to her.
Lance and I came home and I sat thinking about that little guy and it really made me sad for him. There aren’t any kids his age in the neighborhood and he’s all alone. I’ve seen him playing in ditches and in front of his house in the past and never thought he was all alone.
Then of course I thought to myself I wonder if his momma will be home for dinner etc. Is he alone all the time? What are their circumstances? I don’t dare overstep but I admit my heart goes out for that little guy. I wouldn’t mind helping them, but i don’t want the mom to get offended. I remember my boys at that age. They were really lucky to have each other. But I don’t think they were that young when I left them on their own either.
I wouldn’t mind helping them if they needed it. I don’t want to insult or anything but when Lance and I cook we always have left overs that I wouldn’t mind sharing. I just don’t want to insult. I’m sure eventually I’ll make contact with her and feel her out.
So while I mull over my lack of empathy, I think to myself; would a person that lacked the empathy chip care about some kid she doesn’t know? I don’t think so, but why can’t I feel bad for people with common illnesses? Lance being sick, Jake being sick a couple of months ago. I hate to admit when they complained I thought dear God what a wuss. I love my dear hubby and my sweet baby Jake, but I admit I failed in this area. All I could think was are you really complaining like you have something major going on?
I remember years ago I was having a major flare up and had to go to the hospital for IV steroids. It was on an out-patient basis, I took baby Jake (he was about 15yrs old). On one of these occasions he had a throat infection at the time but wanted to come, so I let him. While there at the hospital he complained non-stop about how sick he was. We get called back. The nurse knew me as I had been many times for IV steroids over the years. They always treated me very well and would compliment me on how well I dealt with my MS. At that time I still managed to work and live a more active life. While she was attaching me to the IV drip, Jake started telling the nurse about his throat infection and asking her about drinking orange juice while his throat was sore. The look she gave him was priceless. She looked at him and said trust me you’ll be fine. But your mom here has two more days of IV steroids and probably doesn’t feel really good. In other words shut up about your throat, you’ll live.
I’m pretty sure other MSers go through the same feelings. Is this fair to our family and friends? Probably not, but all we can do is self reflect and fain empathy for a passing and minor illness.
While writing this I spoke to the hubby about what I was writing. Here’s his take on this subject…..
…Empathy, schmempathy! All a sick person should be focused on is coping with his or her own misery and doing what they have to do to feel and/or be better. By that token, its hard to ask or expect someone with a chronic illness to display empathy for someone with a temporary affliction like a cold or flu. Having said that, it still rankles when Alex accuses me of being a wuss simply because the gorilla sitting on my chest isn’t as big and ugly as the one she wakes up to every day.
Like many people of my generation, I rarely miss work due to illness, and hate nothing more than to waste a perfectly good sick day on an actual sickness. On those very few days when I do miss work, I want nothing more than to rest and recuperate under the watchful, caring eye of my loving wife. These are the times when the least I expect is to be treated with “fempathy,” the faux empathy that Alex is capable of summoning when she realizes that I am operating under a diminished capacity. Comforting words like, “I’m sorry my sweetie is so sick” and “just rest baby, you deserve it,” enshroud me like a warm blanket and serve to remind me that I’m not the only one who suffers when I’m sick.
Unfortunately, the problem with fempathy is that it is at best, a thin veneer that is easily cracked when Alex becomes weary of my complaints. As one who suffers daily with symptoms that I can hardly imagine, it is understandable that she, or anyone under her circumstances, would have little patience for someone who is suffering with a temporary condition that isn’t life-threatening. For my part, I hesitate to tell her when I’m sick, because of the guilt that I feel because of her daily struggles with MS. I try to be as comforting as I can to her, but fully realize that there is a clear limit to what I can do to help alleviate her suffering. So I display my own version of fempathy, one that uses soothing words to convey the message that I know how she suffers, and I’m with her no matter what. What is false about this form of empathy is the message that I know how she suffers, when in reality, I barely have a clue. All that I can know for certain, is that she suffers, and that is what truly matters.
With Lance’s take on this being said, I do know that I empathize for people with real illness. A cold passes, do people understand our suffering? No they do not. So if I lack patience for someone with a cold or passing issue, oh well this is me. I offer no apologies and make no excuses. I know my heart is in the right place and would do for anyone that asked. I would just like if everyone put things in perspective. Just because it’s a temporary inconvenience does not mean it’s a life altering issue. There is a lot of inconveniences in life, like I’ve said before life can get messy. It’s ok, you’ll get through it. I don’t complain a lot because I don’t want sympathy. I’m a proud woman to say the least. I’d rather hide my illness behind a face covered with make up and a good hair day rather than have someone look at me with sympathy in their eyes. So thats the difference between normies and us that deal with chronic illness. While we try to hide illness everyone else is ok with letting it be known.