My last appointment had some nice moments. I ran into a few people from an online lung transplant support group I was invited to join awhile ago. I appreciated that because I did get a few minutes to shoot the breeze in between & meet up again with people who I have been communicating with.
Some of the other respiratory & pulmonary staff are getting to know me now because they remember me from prior visits or my evaluation tests so that also helps me feel more at ease. I don’t just feel like a number within this big hospital like I did for quite awhile.
My doctor was running late so my bestie and I were out in the waiting room since there wasn’t a free room to wait in after they took my vital signs. That’s when the “not-so-nice moment” happened.
An older couple came to check in. The woman was the lung patient & I could tell she had some issues but the man with her sat a few chairs down from us as we were waiting.
All of a sudden we hear this phrase audibly uttered from the man, “Well look at that young woman on oxygen over there, that’s unfortunate” (or something very close to this like “sad deal”). I just stared straight ahead not taking the bait, and my bestie is kind of shooting a glance over at me as if to say “Did I just hear what I thought I heard?” She leaned over then & whispered to me, “You’re sitting right there, does he think you can’t hear?”
By that time the woman had finished checking in, I don’t know if she just sat silent because this was normal behavior for him or was mortified that it came out of his mouth. Out of respect for her as a fellow “lungie” I said nothing to them.
I told my bestie I was actually I was used to this & that it probably didn’t dawn on him that I could hear him. Unfortunately, it’s true about being used to it. For sure I hear it. I just can’t even give it energy any more to say anything because usually any type of response sarcastic or otherwise just falls on completely closed ears.
I pick & choose my battles these days on what & whom I spend my breath on. I don’t waste them anymore trying to talk sense until I’m blue in the face to someone who clearly just fails to register the problem in the first place.
People have strange reactions to illness & disability which does not give this guy a pass at all.
Yet, I’ve had people who have known me a while who once had no trouble approaching me now completely ignoring me or or ducking away thinking I can’t see them. The avoidance is obvious…yet I don’t expect or want pity or insincere words, so no harm, no foul.
I’ve been able to figure out fairly quickly with this who cares & who doesn’t. I had it figured out pretty much before as well, but it’s clear as a bell now. That’s actually a relief. I feel I can be completely authentic & not have to hide behind a brave face. I can still be positive but I don’t have to feel like I have to “fake” anything for the sake of sparing someone’s feelings. I can just be.
I can’t pass for healthy anymore. I haven’t for about a year now & I guess some people just can’t handle it or accept it. Yet, I’m more forgiving of that because it’s not intentionally mean or thoughtless (like statements like these are. Or glaring at me because I take my oxygen off for two seconds to unload or load tanks or my concentrator in & out of my car because my nasal tubing won’t stretch. As if to say, “You didn’t earn that disabled parking permit in your window.”)
Statements like that man uttered & those glares are both conscious ways of trying to make me feel slighted and/or invisible whether that person has that intent or not. It invokes those feelings because they are talking about me in front of me like I don’t even exist as a human being. Or looking at me like I don’t “look” disabled enough to them, as if that’s something for them to judge anyway.
We then both crack up whispering with less than polite but witty responses to the man’s stupid comment, but the tamest of them was “See that man over there with absolutely no tact? That’s really sad.” (But not audibly loud of course, because our mothers didn’t raise us to be rude as hell to people we don’t know.)
I can always count on my bestie for good laughs, comebacks, & support.
(FYI – the title is in relation to a euphuism for bad manners or no home training. Also referencing some type of comment you would let slide with a child but not with an adult because they are old enough to know better.)