The Mighty Logo

The Chronic Illness Battle You Can't See in This Selfie

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

What you most likely see in this photo is two smiling, happy friends who don’t get to see each other in person often enough. You can see them posing for a selfie. If you look closely enough you will notice things in the background.

woman hugging her friend in selfie photo at hospital

If you look carefully you will see that the friends are in a waiting room. You will see that one friend has a hospital bracelet on her wrist. You still see the smiles because the friends are close, and they are happy to see each other despite the difficult, painful situation.

What you can’t see in this photo is the massive pain one friend is in. You can’t see her struggles. You can’t see how hard it is just for her to sit up. You can’t see that she spent the previous day lying on the floor fighting wave after wave of dizziness. You can’t see that she was only on the floor because she couldn’t get herself anywhere else.

You can’t see that she only waited so long to try and see a doctor because of an ongoing inner argument about what constitutes an emergency, or what was even worth seeing a regular doctor. You can’t see that no one was available to go with her, until her friend stepped up.

You can’t see that she and her friend had already waited for nearly three hours at a nearby urgent care clinic and got sent to the ER because the urgent care clinic had at least another three hour wait.

This photo doesn’t show ER staff and other waiting patients roll their eyes when you take a selfie — they just don’t understand how much pain a chronic pain fighter can push through — because it’s the only option, even in the ER. This photo doesn’t show the other patients looking disgusted when you get called back before them. They don’t know what they can’t see, or what the intake nurse saw.

What I wish this photo could show was how much I love my friend. It’s too much love for a photograph to capture. This friend came to my aid when no one else could. She’s been with me every step of every way, even before I was so sick all of the time.

You can’t see in this photo that my friend fights her own chronic illness battle. You can’t see that she is in a relationship with an amazing man, and is a Superwoman Mom to three little kids, and works outside the home.

This photo doesn’t show her amazing heart and awesome support. It doesn’t show that she stayed a good friend when so many others left. I wish it could. I wish it showed how much I love this woman.

Originally published: August 4, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home