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If You Believe People Are Trying to Scam You by Lying About Their Health

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Most healthy people probably don’t spend their days thinking about whether the people they’re interacting with are chronically ill. Most of the time, it probably doesn’t really cross their minds unless someone is in a wheelchair, or obviously disabled – and if it does, only for a split second. We exist. We’re out there dealing with day-to-day life, just like the rest of society, interacting with customer service agents, cashiers, utility technicians, insurance adjustors, etc. We have to handle all that stuff on top of all our medical madness. It’s not exactly a fun time.

I’d like to make a request to those of you who deal with the public while doing their jobs – please have some compassion. I completely understand that there are scammers out there that make you wary of people. I get that you’ve desensitized yourself because of those that just want something for free, but those of us that have real issues are interacting with you too, and we desperately need your understanding.

We deal with our bodies betraying us, and all the physical symptoms that go along with that, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Having a chronic illness means there is no break. No cure. Many chronic illnesses affect every aspect of our lives. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially – literally, every part of our lives. Being sick is not cheap, even if you want to just survive. It’s even more expensive if you want to have any reasonable level quality of life. Basically, you can survive if you’re really poor. You might be able to feel marginally better if you’re a little better off. If you’re well off, you may actually even be able to pull off functioning somewhat normally, at least as much as your illness will allow.

The fact is, many of us can just survive because our medical costs are so expensive. This means some of us have to spend a good majority of our time trying to handle utility disconnect notices, late mortgage or rental fees, battles with insurance over coverage, and searching for more resources to help. It’s such an exhausting, never ending process. It’s also pretty humiliating and demeaning. Most of us would give anything to be able to have “normal” money problems instead of life-threatening money problems. I mean, at least if my financial issues were because of a shopping problem, I could cut up all my credit cards and put someone else in control of my spending until I could handle it. I can’t pass off my fibromyalgia and kidney problems to someone else and say, “Hey, take these over for awhile until I can handle them.” I don’t have any choice but to live with these medical issues.

So, when someone comes to my door saying that I must either make a payment right then, or lose my electricity, it’s not just my need to keep up appearances causing chaos in my life. It’s me finding out that I’m probably going to have to go without all of my medications or doctor’s appointments that month because every penny is always accounted for by something. I can’t let the electric be turned off because temperatures are still dropping some nights, and some medicines have to be refrigerated. Freezing at night would exacerbate my medical conditions, and losing everything in the fridge can cost hundreds of dollars. Also, the fact that the electric company requires you to pay the entire balance, instead of just a minimum payment, to get your electric reconnected, has to be considered. I could end up having to pay $800 instead of just the $140 payment that would keep it connected, causing an even worse scenario. Remember this is on top of all the never ending medical issues.

People like me live with a constant level of stress than most people can’t even imagine coping with. Please don’t make it worse by acting horribly to us. I absolutely understand that you can’t always tell the difference between someone with a real disability, and the people just trying to scam you, but at least be open to the possibility that some of us need your compassion. In my view, there really are enough people out there who have chronic illnesses, and problems out of their control, that you should be compassionate to everyone. You never know what is happening with someone. I am aware that many people disagree with me, and believe that my kind of thinking is how you get “taken advantage of.” It is what it is. Yes, some scammers would benefit, but if it makes it better for those with real issues, it’s worth it.

We need a caring society – not cold, calculated people who take nothing into account. There really can be circumstances that make life much harder than it is for others. If you’re shutting off one of my utilities, or denying my insurance claim or request for assistance, or any other negative action, you’re pretty much putting me into a life-threatening situation. Please, please, at least be as nice as you can about it, and work with me within whatever parameters you’re able. Use the side of yourself you would use with the people you most care about, because we desperately need that consideration from you. It may not prevent whatever chaos the situation is causing in our lives, but it can definitely keep from making it even worse.

Getty Image by domoyega

Originally published: March 6, 2018
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