Almost seven years ago, a work injury left me with a nasty disability called “Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy,” aka R.S.D. The short version is that all the nerves from the shoulder to the fingertips of my (once) dominant hand and arm now misinterpret everything as pain.
Pain is a constant in my life; it’s just a question of how bad it will be on any given day. There are some things that I know will make it worse, such as being touched, the weather, abrupt temperature changes, and stress, but there are also times where it flares up for no reason. There’s no preventing it, no real control of it, no cure for it.
One thing I didn’t count on, however, is how often I have to field insensitive comments from people who probably mean well, but just don’t understand the nature of my illness.
Here are a few things I really wish I never had to hear again:
1. “Is it contagious?”
2. “What do you mean you can’t work? You could do something.“
3. “Must be nice to not have to work!”
4. “At least you get good drugs.”
5. “Do you have extra meds? Can I buy some?”
6. “It can’t be that bad.”
7. “Do you get disability payments? How much money did you get?”
8. “Your poor kids!”
9. “Your poor husband!”
10. “I know just how you feel! I broke a finger once!”
11. “Essential oils would probably fix it.”
12. “Have you tried massage therapy / chiropractor / acupunture?”
13. “Have you tried [insert herbal supplements here]? It’ll CURE you!”
14. “I have a whole church praying for you! You just don’t have enough faith!”
15. “I thought you’d be better by now.”
16. “But you don’t look disabled.”
17. “I couldn’t live like that. I’d kill myself first.”
I’m not asking for special treatment, or for anyone to kiss my butt.
And it’s okay to ask questions when you’d really like to know more about my experience. All I’m asking is for folks to use a bit of common sense, a filter, and not assume that because I have a disability, I owe them explainations, details of my medical history, or a tour of my private life.