Some chronic diseases can be seen, others cannot. Mine have been invisible so far, but are starting to become more and more visible. I am conscious that this ongoing process requires adaptation from my part, therefore I am preparing for dealing with it in the future.
So far, I have complained a lot about people who think you are cancer, because you have cancer in my blog. However, there are those who take my illness too seriously and there are those, who deny it completely. For them “it’s all in my head” and I am fine, because I look alright. This is the common fate of patients suffering from invisible illness. As long as there is nothing to be seen, your misery must be a purely imagined one. Of course I criticize this attitude as well, but on the other hand I must admit that I have grown accustomed to being the healthy looking cancer warrior.
Now, my invisible illness – chronic lymphocytic leukemia – is slowly becoming visible. I look younger than my age, yet my wounds don’t heal well anymore. For a year or so I have had a growing number of scars that won’t vanish anymore. I live in a sunny place and I usually have quite a healthy tan. Nevertheless I know that I am frighteningly pale underneath due to my iron deficiency. I am aware that the whiteness of my skin will turn into a yellowish color when my leukemia deteriorates. My skin seems to show all the telltale signs of my diseases. Unfortunately, it covers all my body and is partly exposed to the public.
Last year, I applied makeup on some of the ugliest scars, although I knew it would have a negative impact on wound-healing. I don’t do that anymore. I care for my fresh wounds a lot better than I used to and I sometimes (very rarely) buy expensive scar reducer plasters. That’s it.
I don’t hide the effects my chronic illness is having on my skin anymore, though. I learn to live with them. Actually, I am very grateful for being able to adapt step-by-step, knowing that many others do not have this possibility. Also, I am now able to proudly show my scars to those who say “But you can’t be ill, you look great!”