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When You Get 'That Look' Because Others Don't Believe You're Sick

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Have you ever gotten “the look” from doctors when trying to explain your condition?

I despise this look, but know it well.

At some point, as I am describing my symptoms to doctors, nurses, or friends and family, I get that look. You know, the one where a doctor internally has labeled you a “nut”?

I remember when my rare disease was first showing up in my body. I was in the military at the time, and as I explained what was physically and mentally happening – wham! It was like a bat hitting me when I got that terrible look. No matter how much I tried to explain, I had already been labeled as “crazy,” and it hurt me deeply.

I received these kind of looks often, and as I aged it only got worse. The lack of caring began to take its toll. You know how it feels. It’s like you’re completely evaporated down to nothing. What is worse is when your family and loved ones use “the look” too. It hurts so much I begin to doubt even myself.

For two and half years I chased my own diagnosis, begging doctors to read the white paper I nervously clung to — hoping someone might read it, but knowing somehow they would not.

Still, I pushed on, hoping against all odds that this time I’d meet the doctor — the one who would finally treat my pain. I would hold out my arm saying, ” these lumps hurt really bad,” only to hear the dreaded response of disbelief. “Those don’t hurt,” doctors would say, as they looked down their nose at the lumps all over my arm. I would even try to get them to touch my arm or leg or my chest or my stomach and they would not touch me at all. I felt like I was contagious, a leper. I felt like someone with a deadly, “scary” disease that doctors and nurses thought if they touched me, they would catch it.

author's bumps on her arms.

Getting “the look” from doctors, medical staff, or loved ones is never easy. In fact, it hurts. We deserve so much more than “the look,” because all we want is to be understood and believed.

Originally published: June 1, 2018
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