September 8-14, 2014 is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. This annual event, started in 2002 by Lisa Copen, features a variety of ways to get involved including some chat sessions September 8-14 online with special guests.
With nearly 1 in 2 people living with a chronic condition, about 96% of those people are suffering silently with invisible illnesses. See InvisibleIllnessWeek.com
Today, our contributor, seventeen-year-old Alexandra Dittrich, kicks off observance of the week by sharing "30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know" from her teenage point of view...
- The illness I live with is: undiagnosed global joint pain
- I was diagnosed with it in the year: I have yet to be definitively diagnosed, but I began seeing doctors about my pain in 2012.
- But I had symptoms since: 2011
- The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: taking medicines and knowing my limitations
- Most people assume: that there’s nothing wrong with me
- The hardest part about mornings are: being unable to put pressure on my ankles
- My favorite medical TV show is: Scrubs
- A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my iPod. Can’t live without my music!
- The hardest part about nights are: finding a position comfortable enough to fall asleep in… and stay asleep in.
- Each day I take __ pills & vitamins: 2-3, varying from day to day
- Regarding alternative treatments I: drink lots of green tea and rely on essential oils
- If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: invisible
- Regarding working and career: I’m an elementary school custodian and high school student. My goal is to attend college and become a writer.
- People would be surprised to know: how active I actually am. People in the medical field assume I am in pain because I lead a sedentary life.
- The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: that I may never truly feel physically comfortable in my body ever again
- Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: break dance
- The commercials about my illness: make me incredibly vexed. The side-effects of the illnesses’ prescribed drugs make it sound more like a death-sentence than a cure for the symptoms!
- Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: writing for long periods of time.
- It was really hard to have to give up: my old, non-supportive shoes for prescribed ones.
- A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: walking
- If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: go for an extensive run
- My illness has taught me: that not all joint pain is the same, nor is it all caused by the same triggers
- Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “You’re too young to have that kind of pain! You must be lying!”
- But I love it when people: think it’s cool that my joints can predict the weather
- My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “We may cast lots, but the Lord determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:33, NLT).
- When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: “Don’t let your diagnosis get in the way of you living your life!”
- Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how much it changes how you perceive others in the chronic illness community
- The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: pray over me and share their company
- I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I feel it is important for people to know that not all illnesses stick out like a sore thumb (no pun intended). I feel that people need to know that invisible illnesses are just as vivid and real as the ones you can see with the naked eye.
- The fact that you read this list makes me feel: that me, and my diagnosis, aren’t just a smudge on the earth. You, reading about me, means that there’s hope for me--hope for a cure--as long as caring people still exist.
~ Alexandra Dittrich