Sunday, August 24, 2008
My Husband Lives With An Invisible Chronic Illness Too – “But he looks so good!”
My husband silently suffers from Degeneration of the intervertebral disc, which is often called "degenerative disc disease" (DDD) of the spine a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one's life. While disc degeneration is a normal part of aging and for most people is not a problem, for certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe constant chronic pain. My husband will rarely let you know that he is in pain, but I can see it in his eyes, the way he walks and the restless nights due to pain. The other week at our apartment complex, there was a woman trying to help her husband move a couch down three flights of stairs. Out of sheer frustration, she came running over to my husband to ask him for help. My husband politely explained to her that he was unable to assist them. From the outward appearance one would never think that this tall strapping man had anything wrong with him. She snapped back at my husband as though he was too lazy to assist them or that he was being rude. My husband felt terrible about the situation, and even considered helping them even though it would cause him great pain. When my husband told me about the situation, he said, “Now I know what you have been experiencing for 20 years with your invisible chronic illnesses.” He has seen how people would react to me, even when he knew how bad I was feeling, yet people would say, “You look so good, you must be feeling better!” Now, he was having first hand experiences with people regarding his health. This man who has been so physically active throughout his life; playing football, physical jobs, serving his country as a marine during Vietnam era , is now having to adjust to life as one with an invisible chronic illness with all the ‘labels’, rude or inconsiderate comments that go along with the illness. Although, I don’t think that the comments bother him as much as realizing that he is not as young and spry as he was twenty years ago. None of us are; and unfortunately aging is NOT an invisible illness!
To bring awareness to those who suffer from invisible chronic illness, my family will be joining thousands of other families across the USA, as we celebrate National Invisible Chronic Illness Week, September 8 -14, 2008. We plan on giving each family in our church, Desert Sun Baptist Church, in Glendale, Arizona, the book, Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways To Encourage A Chronically Ill Friend, by Lisa Copen, founder and director of Rest Ministries and Invisible Illness Week. We encourage others to spread the word about this special week. On their website they have various ways that you can get involved. Please visit their website at: www.invisibleillness.com .
About Me: I am a wife, mother, grandmother, counselor, teacher, public speaker, business woman, and writer, who is trusting in God that He will strengthen me to rise above life's difficulties. Since 1985 I have lived with multiple chronic illnesses: Fibromyalgia, Peripheral Neuropathy, Osteoarthritis, Interstitial cystitis, IBS, chemical sensitivities, to name a few. I live in Phoenix, Arizona with my husband of 34 years, Dr. James E. Williams, Senior Pastor of Desert Sun Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. I will have the privilege to be a guest seminar speaker for the National Invisible Chronic Illness Week, September 8 – 14, 2008. My topic is Illness and Faith: Does Faith Make A Difference. I would appreciate your prayers as I prepare for this awesome opportunity to share my faith as well as encourage others.