You know, sometimes I get so lost in the way I perceive my own health problems that I forget how others must see it.
As a general rule, my health isn't a conscious thought. It's usually a fleeting perception, like "oh, my legs are really tired. I hope there's a Do Not Walk sign soon" or "gee, my heart is racing, my blood sugar must be high" (I know, it's a weird symptom). But I don't see myself as sick or disadvantaged.
And then, every once in a while, someone says something that makes me think about it. Or someone reacts with shock, surprise, or horror when I tell them something that, for me, is normal.
I had several experiences like that this week. But the weirdest one was this morning, after my history class.
My history professor made an announcement the first day of class that he doesn't allow laptops in his class because they're distracting (otherwise known as, students use the internet in class). We had a short discussion about how I really can't hand write notes, and that was the end of that. I did end up using a notebook for a few weeks while I waited for a new laptop battery (during which time I wrote stories, not notes). Other than that, my laptop has been my best friend and he has left me alone.
Last week, we had a handwritten quiz. He usually gives one multiple choice quiz per week, but last week was different. This week, he repeated it. To be honest, the quizzes were short, with today's having much less writing than last week's. (Also, last week my left wrist was bothering me, which didn't help the whole hand writing thing.)
I approached him after class about it. Honestly, I can take the quizzes. The pain doesn't last too long, the muscle fatigue doesn't last too long, and overall I'd rather be like everyone else than singled out. But if he gives every quiz like that for the rest of the semester, then I might have some problems. I asked him more out of curiosity than out of concern for my well-being.
His immediate response was, "I know it's hard for you to take these quizzes", practically before I could finish my sentence. He said we can work something out if it's too difficult.
My immediate answer to that is no. It still is, because I'd rather suffer for the ten minutes it takes to take the quiz than inconvenience him or myself. I don't like to be different. I don't like to be singled out. Maybe it's because the muscle issues have a greater potential to make things difficult in the long run than diabetes does. Maybe it's because the muscle stuff is less treatable. Maybe it's just because I hate the muscle issues more than I hate diabetes. But I don't want special treatment, even from myself.
On some levels, this is quite stupid. On a day when my finger joints hurt, I can barely type, let alone write. The fact that I have the opportunity to alleviate my discomfort should be appreciated, and it is, but I don't want to use it.
It's times like this that make me wonder what other people really think about me.
Last night, my very close friend's mother asked me if I can have ketchup if it's cooked in something (she used it to make some kind of stewed meat, and since it wasn't sweet, I'm guessing there wasn't much in it). She knew to leave out the pita and the potatoes, but she asked about the ketchup (and was horrified to learn that onions and carrots have carbs, too). It's extremely sweet of her to worry about something so simple, but how fragile does she think I am?
My sister doesn't like it when I go for a run without my phone (something I've never done, but considered once when I couldn't ind it). I think she's worried about lows. Again, very sweet, very considerate, and how fragile does she consider me to be?
My honors program director knows a lot about my family issues. As in, more than most people. But he knows almost nothing about my health issues. I missed one seminar for a doctor's appt (and I might still miss another one). He knows I've seen a lot of doctors, but he doesn't know why. He doesn't even know why I want to do my paper this semester on the mismanagement of and lack of education about type 2 diabetes. (Actually, he might know that I'm a diabetic, but it's not something we've ever talked about or even something I've ever alluded to.) He doesn't know a single thing about my muscle issues. In fact, the only health issue he knows about is my allergies, because I almost died in a Bio 1 lab when I was a freshman from a severe allergic reaction.
I'm an extremely open person. For the most part, people know about my health problems, and I'm usually okay with that. I don't know how people reconcile what I tell them with the seemingly healthy person sitting in front of them. I don't know what my fellow pre-meds think when I tell them. In general, pre-meds are a healthy bunch, because it's physically demanding to even just be pre-med. I know one other pre-med in my school with major issues. She and I are, according to us, the two least healthy (and probably the two most well-versed) pre-meds in the whole school.
In a way, it's pretty stupid to be so worried about what people think of me. I do everything I can for people to think I'm capable. Sometimes I push myself too hard because of that. But I don't want anyone to think I'm not capable because of the stuff I live with. I don't want myself to feel incapable.
This is a topic that has always interested me, yet I feel completely uncomfortable with the notion that others see me as damaged or disabled or something to worry about. And I don't have an answer.
"Am I the fool/ Am I a victim/ I'd rather know" ~Faber Drive