The minute you hear someone say they have a chronic Illness you may think of someone you might know that falls into this ‘label’, however there are many different chronic illnesses and many different sufferers.
Sadly for the chronically ill, we tend to get lumped into one basket and I think this is a terrible disservice and potentially dangerous.
Many other illnesses have tried to extract themselves from the potential hazards of being tossed into a generic basket, and even the autistic have developed a ‘spectrum’ to differentiate themselves from those who may have ‘milder’ forms of the same condition.
There are many different chronic illnesses. From chronic asthma, chronic ingrown toenails and all the way to dementia. They all have very different paths, different medications and treatments. But, we are all not able to do the same things or be able to perform at the same level as others.
This factor is often taken for granted. Even by chronic sufferers themselves.
Some illnesses, diseases and conditions may affect one person in one way, but yet others can still be ‘higher functioning’ than someone else with the same illness, disease or condition. It does not mean that they are braver, better, more courageous, harder fighting or smarter!!
It doesn’t make sense to conclude that all those with a chronic illness CAN do, or WILL do what another can. That is unfair and dangerous.
Many healthy people will often recall a friend or relative that may have been able to do (insert activity) and therefore expect that everyone can, or should be able to it as well. It is even harder when the chronic community casts the same expectations.
One size does NOT fit all.
The MS society and those who treat MS have made some steps to distinguish the various ‘types’ and levels of illness activity ie relapsing remitting, primary progressive, secondary progressive etc. but these subtypes are not currently available across the board and in ALL autoimmune diseases. Do they help in understanding the nature of the illness? Do they help encourage understanding and learning amongst sufferers and in society in general?
Could these subsets be helpful to other illnesses and Autoimmunes? Would it help others, including sufferers, better understand how others may be challenged?
Whether or not it can be helpful remains debatable, but in the meantime we must rely on mutual respect, empathy and support. I hope we can rely on this.
Whilst I think it would be far better to find more cures to these illnesses than to classify and ponder, I would hope that anything that helps and encourages understanding in the meantime might be worth contemplating.
In my time I have encountered many different people, many different illnesses and many different levels of disease activity. We are all distinct in our challenges and our circumstances and our attitudes; and we are all entitled to respect.
…We deserve to be treated as individuals, just as anyone else does.
Not everyone has the same abilities and circumstances. Not everyone will have the same disease prognosis or path. And people should not assume that one size fits all when it comes to chronic illnesses.