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30 Photos That Reveal Visible Signs of 'Invisible' Illnesses

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For many of us with chronic illness, our conditions are often considered “invisible.” On days when we’re out and about, we may look totally healthy. Some are able to hide their condition under makeup or clothing, and some have no physical symptoms at all. A stranger would never guess what’s really going on inside our bodies.

But, if you look a little closer, you might discover that many of these “invisible” illnesses are, in fact, visible. We asked our Mighty community to share photos that demonstrate these visible aspects of conditions that oftentimes go unseen. Just because you can’t always “see” what a person is going through doesn’t mean their struggle is any less valid.

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “The picture I provided is of my multitude of daily medicines. I also get subcutaneous infusions every other week.”

2. “Chronic Lyme has meant frequent IV meds for me. When your veins are too destroyed for a regular peripheral line, they try a PICC line. When they still can’t get a PICC line in your arm after six hours and three doctors trying, they put it in your chest. Finally have a working line and then develop awful allergic dermatitis. Lyme disease isn’t always invisible…in this case, it made a nice bold, ridiculously itchy and painful statement right on my chest!”

3. “Before my transplant, it was this…central lines coming out of my neck because I had no veins anywhere else to use to be fed.”

4. “My husband in the middle of a cluster headache. Our daughter put her most treasured blanket on him for comfort, and held his hand.”

5. “This is me enduring a gastric barostat test, hooked up to a machine via tube down my throat, with an inflating ballon in my duodenum for four hours. I had no sedation for this test. The photo on the left is what I shared, the photo on the right is the reality I hid because I feared negative attention-seeking comments.”

6. “This is me from my last hospital visit. I’m always suffering from constant UTI’s. I’ve had constant kidney infections that never go away. My heart has had multiple issues too. The only times my suffering is visible is when I’m in the bathroom bawling my eyes out because of the blood coming out of me when I’m not even on my period. I’m constantly in the hospital (at least two or three times a month). All the meds I have show how much I suffer from my pain.”

7. “I’m waiting for my tilt table test and an official diagnosis of POTS, but this is my normal. Heart palpitations, chest pain and fatigue are all part of my daily life. As a nurse, it’s hard to be able to slow down during my shifts which makes the symptoms even harder to manage. Also, with heat and humidity, something as simple as walking from my car to the gas station can make me feel lightheaded and unsteady.”

8. “Extreme bruising from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.”

9. “Me trying to be happy, but the pain was too bad to get out of bed. When you have to be strong for your child.”

10. “This is my ‘walking around’ kit. Money for a taxi, my disabled pass, my tens machine, my painkillers, my diary (so I know what I’m supposed to be doing and don’t forget anything), my arthritis gloves, hand disinfectant in case I feel it’s necessary because I can’t afford to get sick if I can avoid it, suncream because I have low vitamin D so I can’t always have it on, deodorant and motorized fan to deal with temperature changes, walking stick, walking stick holder and walking stick balancer, sanitary pad because I have PCOS and never know when I’m due, salt for my POTS, water, reusable earplugs for sensory overload, sunglasses for the same reason, nasal spray and hanky for chronic sinusitis, eye spray for dry eyes, hair ties for temp changes/irritation and pain on my neck, sweets to keep my energy up and sugar tablets in case I need quick recovery.”

11. “This is a photo of me receiving one of many iron infusions. I spend most of my days incredibly fatigued and weak and I’m always in pain. I tell people I’m a great faker at ‘appearing’ well and being at the top of my game! Inside it’s a totally different story.”

12. “The painful, debilitating cystine kidney stones that unfortunately come almost every day when you have cystinuria.”

13. “I currently use a walker to help with vertigo from EDS and POTS.”

14. “Autoimmune disease for me comes with a bad case of livedo reticularis. A person can usually gauge how well I feel by the appearance of my skin. The deeper the color is, the worse I am feeling. I loathe summer because I can’t hide it under long sleeves and long pants. My skin gives me away!”

15. “So this is me rockin’ my tissue in my nose. With Sjögren’s syndrome you never know when a nose bleed will hit! So instead of letting it stop me, I’m at a point where I stuff and go!”

16. “I have uveitis, an autoimmune disease, in both eyes. I had to get several eye injections for a few months to save my vision. I have a cyst behind my retina, missing spots in my right eye’s vision due to macular edema, macular degeneration, permanent damage to my pupil from years of iritis and now tiny cataracts in both eyes.”

17. “#WestonsWorld #FGIMDawareness #MotilityWarrior #DayByDay”

18. “I have fibromyalgia and it’s not something I can show anyone. I graduated with four degrees and two certificates.”

19. “I have chiari malformation.”

20. “My ‘butterfly rash’ from lupus. I’m constantly asked if I’m warm, embarrassed, having a hot flash, angry or if I’m having an allergic reaction. Nope, just me in a flare.”

21. “He makes it obvious.”

22. “The most visible part of my invisible chronic illnesses is the medication I have to take on a daily and weekly basis… All my meds are stuffed into a gallon-sized plastic bag that can’t close and then hidden in a grocery bag from the view of others. I hate taking so many different medications…the worst being the antibiotics. But all we can do is keep on fighting.”

23. “What ‘meals’ looks like when you’re tube-fed.”

24. “This is my reaction to direct sunlight. I’ve had lupus for 20 years.”

25. “This was inside me in an attempt to fix my chronic back pain but it didn’t work. Yes, the battery was in my bum cheek.”

26. “Me at my part-time job as a nanny. My charge took the photo playing with my tablet. I love my job but migraines with extreme nausea can be so unpredictable (among other health issues). Thankfully and by some miracle, I’ve only had a bad one twice in one year while at work. I do everything I can to take control and my progress is very slow, so I’m grateful I keep at it.”

27. “This is a photo of my rheumatoid arthritis. As you can see, one knee is much more swollen than the other, causing a lot of pain.”

28. “Someone may look OK on the outside, but what they can’t see is a feeding tube, picc/central line, bloating and pain, etc. Fighting multiple chronic/invisible illnesses…sometimes they aren’t as invisible as people may think.”

29. “My cane is a constant reminder of my illnesses, and limitations.”

30. “Ostomy tucked away.”

What are the visible aspects of your “invisible” illness? Share in the comments below!

Originally published: June 1, 2017
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