I have a ton of friends. I get invites to concerts, dinners and outings all the time. However, I’ve noticed that some people shy away from you when you mention that you have a chronic illness. I don’t know if they are uncomfortable, just don’t want to get involved, or are heartless.
Either way, you can see on their faces how much they want to be somewhere else. This includes friends who never knew you had a problem or even people’s family members. You can simply not say anything about your CHD to the new people you meet—but that’s not always an option.
For me, now that summer is here, the option of not telling someone I meet decreases dramatically. I have some venous anomalies that have caused me to have varicose veins. Because of my anatomy and the damage to my veins from multiple catheter procedures, they can’t be fixed.
This only leaves me with the option to wear medical compression stockings which come in only four colors—navy, black, white and nude. All of these colors make it very evident right from the start that you are wearing medical stockings. So in the summer, I wear crazy knee high socks over them with my shorts. This prompts someone during the course of the evening to ask why I’m wearing crazy socks. When I tell them I either get an “OK, that’s cool,” or that look that says “I’m sorry I asked, how long do I have to keep talking before I can come up with a plausible excuse to walk away?”
How do you combat something like that? It’s simple—you don’t.
I learned a long time ago that those people who are uncomfortable around you fall into one of two categories. The first are the people who care, but have no idea what to say, so they say nothing. The second are the people who are too self-absorbed to care about anyone but themselves. In either case, I find the first unlikely to be there for you and the second simply not worth knowing. The people worth being friends with will see you for you and not for your CHD.
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