I didn’t want to start this blog. I knew it would get me in trouble. The kind of trouble that puts me in front of a crowd of 200 people from around the world to talk about what it’s like to live with Ankylosing Spondylitis. I’m in trouble. Big time.
I didn’t want to dive into something bigger than I could handle – something that had the potential to amplify my voice into something like…well, like this conference I’m going to in San Francisco the first weekend in November. I’ve really done it now.
When you see me in public I’m putting on a show. Curtains and…action. Seriously. All the world’s a stage.
Especially when you’re sick. And I mean sick.
Whether you have cancer, ankylosing spondylitis (AS), multiple sclerosis (MS), lyme disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), etc etc etc, or a mix of more than one extreme disease, you’ll probably relate to the desire for “normalcy” in this post.
Most of the time, when people ask for help, they really need it.
And many of us are scared to ask because we’re afraid we’ll be attacked for it. A good friend recently put a crowdfunding page together in an effort to help me resist homelessness and survive the winter while I seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Today, another friend shared the YouCaring link (edit 2/10/16: link no longer live) on her facebook page in support of me.
What happened next shocked me. Someone commented on my friend’s post about the youcaring campaign to help me. And it wasn’t supportive.
It was along the lines of, “When I am hurting I still get up and go to work. Your friend should find a job, she can work.”
I engaged in conversation with this person over several hours and took screenshots of the whole interaction, knowing the person might later delete her comments (which she did).
My effort was to see her side of the story – and in the end it came out that she had lost a child years ago and she was projecting her grief onto me in the form of hatred and judgment. It was very sad and all I could do was continue repeating that I would be happy to talk with her in person so she could learn more about ankylosing spondylitis.
Those of you who have been reading my blog, and those of you who know me personally know I’m good at sharing important, gruesome, sad, exciting, powerful pieces of my life so others’ lives may be impacted positively. You have seen that I use my voice to make a difference. You’ve witnessed as I have raised thousands of dollars for the Arthritis Foundation, as I’ve shared my story openly on my blog and in local and national news stories about healthcare. Those of you who know me best know that I love hosting potlucks – what you may not know is that I love hosting potlucks so much because I love bringing people together who would not otherwise meet. I love creating community, introducing strangers, being a nucleus to a gathering.