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When My Little Sister Wants to Play 'Doctor'

My sister is 10 years old, and we all try to encourage her to use her imagination and play. In this day and age, I feel like sometimes everyone (including kids) are too busy looking at screens for entertainment instead of entertaining themselves. I try to explain to her that I wish I felt like doing all the things she can, but having chronic fatigue syndrome leaves me very limited.

Naturally, she wants to play games and do things with me. We might play a game on the card table, where I can lay in the chair on the heating pad. She plays restaurant and brings me food. She made her own menu and everything. Then we swap roles and I bring her fake food.

However, after we were done playing restaurant, she wanted to play doctor. This may sound silly, possibly petty or even me just being plain sensitive. I told her alright, we can play that. She asks me why I am there, and of course, playing doctor is no fun if there is nothing wrong with you. Right? It makes sense for a kid to want to have something wrong with the other. That is what playing doctor is anyway.

I just kept hoping she would not bring up my illness. She had done it in the past. She had asked why I was there and even had a cure for it. I wish she did, I guess she wished so too. I had to explain to her over and over how it works. Do I expect her to perfectly understand? Of course not. But it sometimes seems like she does not believe me.

In the end, all she did was say I had strep throat. She then “removed” my tonsils later.

Every time she asks if I want to play doctor, my stomach drops. I am sick of doctors. I am sick of going to doctors with all sorts of things wrong with me and being told there is either nothing they can do or they do not believe me.

I hate that I am this way, and I hate that the very thought of playing doctor fills me with such dread and fear.

I hate that I am 22 years old, and I have enough diagnoses on my chart that it takes up many pages.

I hate that the smallest thing like this triggers all these emotions. I hate explaining it, so I typically don’t.

When my younger sister wants to play doctor, I do. I play with her. I swallow these emotions, because the last thing I need to do is make her feel like she needs to walk on eggshells.

I try my best to not let everything affect me personally, like when people that say, “if you do not have a wheelchair, you should not use the handicap parking.”

It’s those who refuse to believe someone as young as me can relate on a personal level to my grandmother and have numerous health problems.

It’s those using my illness as a joke or a fake reason not to have a job.

It’s those people who direct something at one population, and yet I get offended.

I feel like ableism is real, but I also feel I need to remember not everyone is aware. I was not aware til I got sick at 19. I was not aware of the world of chronic illness.

So. I wrote this to make a point.

Educate those around you. Spread awareness not just for the illness you personally have, but the whole spoonie world.

Getty Image by Giulio Fornasar