“I am so glad to see that you are better now.”
I get these comments frequently and I am trying to understand them. Often, it occurs after I have washed my hair. Someone will come up and say, “I am glad to see that you are finally better.”
It is awkward. And so are my reactions.
Should I answer, “Why, yes, isn’t it a miracle”? No, sarcasm is not the right approach.
Should I ask, “Is that your way of saying I look nice today”? No, too rude.
Should I say, “No, I do not feel any better; I just managed to finally wash my hair”? Probably I should, but I don’t.
What I do is try to hide my stunned look. I feel embarrassed for both of us. I wrestle for an appropriate response.
Can I tell you what it feels like I hear being said to me? It sounds something like this: Thank you for not acting sick today… I knew you did not have an incurable disease… You can be alright if you want to be....
If I had actually gotten well in some way, they would be words of comfort and encouragement. But, I have very obviously not gotten better. The comments are said as I struggle to stand or walk. It feels like someone is belittling my suffering.
Here are the cold facts: It is so hard to style my hair now that I only do it a few times a month. Hand, wrist, and shoulder dysfunction make mascara and nail polish a rarity too. My appearance has been one of the casualties of Rheumatoid Arthritis. That’s pretty typical from what I’ve observed.
I am doing my best to survive. I am still a woman and my appearance does matter to me. But living matters more.
I got a phone call last weekend while I was working on my son’s birthday cake. It took me almost all weekend to make the special cake, since my hands kept wearing out. The lady who called is a sweet lady. However, after a few moments she said, “Well, I am glad that you are better now.”
Dead silence. Huh?
It wasn’t my hair. She couldn’t see me, but I had not even brushed my hair that day. I had to save all my strength for the cake. What did she mean? I can only guess. Either she is believing something that she wants to be true or is she sending me a gentle message to stop acting sick. I am still not sure.
I can only say that people have a lot of strange reactions to this misunderstood disease and this is one of the weirdest. Has anything like this ever happened to you?