The first four questions are ones that I usually get from concerned friends, relatives, and acquaintances who are aware of my condition. There’s a different question that I occasionally get from acquaintances, but mostly from friendly strangers and sales clerks:
Are you expecting?
Sometimes phrased as, “You are expecting, aren’t you?” after having made some statement with the unspoken assumption that I was. Once I got, “When are you due?”
The fact is, to the untrained eye, I do look pregnant. I’m young, I have a very round, prominent belly, and I appear to be somewhat tired, but otherwise healthy. What else are they to conclude? I’m fully aware of it, and it doesn’t hurt my feelings when people make that very rational mistake. I would much rather be taken for pregnant than obese. Anyway, many of my symptoms match those of pregnancy: appetite changes, round belly, squashed internal organs, back pain, swollen ankles. I often say I have all the inconveniences of pregnancy, with none of the rewards. I'm not likely to ever be pregnant again; adoption is looking like our best future option.
Actually, looking pregnant is the only apparent claim that I have to consideration from strangers. Most people with renal failure are elderly, and it’s easy to tell that they’re not well. No one is surprised when they need frequent rests or take advantage of the motorized grocery carts or handicapped parking spaces (I haven’t done either of those yet, but I will).
When I head straight for the most comfortable (or one of the only) seats, or when I eat during church (on Fast Sunday!), or let someone push me in a wheelchair around a museum, and then stand up to see things, or take other little liberties because of my physical needs, I can see some strangers thinking that I’m being selfish or phony. My natural gait is sort of rapid and bouncy, so I can begin a shopping trip with a spring in my step, but then I reach a point where my energy runs out and I think, “If I am not sitting down in five minutes, I am going to faint.”
I don’t have an oxygen tube or a walker or a cane. I don’t have grey hair or wrinkles or bandages. But I do have a lot of toxins in my blood, a very limited supply of energy, and very often pain as well. So just remember that not all suffering is visible.
|A recent photo of me looking un-sick.|