This Phrase Reminds Me That I'll Always Be in Pain
I have a condition that causes me to be in constant pain. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and will until I die. Being a person that uses different mobility aids like a cane, crutches, and a wheelchair, as well as using joint braces, I have heard the phrase, “Get well soon,” more times than I’d care to admit.
My use of mobility aids and joint braces often lead people to believe that I am injured and that my injury will heal, and I will be better. This belief causes countless people to say the common phrase, “Get well soon.” This phrase is appropriate for countless people who have other illnesses, like a broken bone or the flu. But, as a person who will be “sick” for life, this simple phrase is a reminder that I will never get better, that I will always be in pain.
Before my diagnosis and onset of symptoms, I might have said the same thing to someone who was in a wheelchair or using crutches. We have all been taught by society that people who use crutches or other mobility aids, especially when they are wearing a knee brace, that they have recently been injured. Having compassion, we want that person to “get well” so we say, “Get well soon” – but what happens when that person hasn’t been injured, and will never “get well soon?”
To all of the able-bodied people who will read this, the next time you see someone with braces on and/or using a mobility aid, and are unsure if they have been injured or not, instead of saying, “Get well soon,” something else. Other things you can say are:
“I’m here for you.”
“I’m sorry you’re hurting.”
“I believe in you.”
Those phrases are much better to hear than, “Get well soon,” as a person with chronic illness.
To all the people who have told me to “get well soon,” I don’t blame you. I likely would have made the same mistake had I never been born with a chronic illness and know better. People assume because they have been taught to, and it hurts us. Next time you think to tell a stranger to “get well soon,” say something else. That simple phrase could be causing more harm than good.
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