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Instead of Comparing Our Health Situations, We Need to Practice Compassion

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Sitting there in the waiting room, I felt a little fidgety from the chilly hospital air. I looked around me – I was the youngest person there awaiting testing. I was given pleasant smiles as I passed older individuals in wheelchairs and with canes. And there I was, young, healthy-looking… wearing a “fall risk” bracelet.

Yesterday I had a procedure done at the hospital. It was minor, outpatient – a TTT (tilt table test), which is designed to identify syncope-type disorders. This wasn’t the first time I have had this test done, but it was the first time I did not faint. Not fainting was a good sign. It means the treatment we are using currently is successful. As someone with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), I experience quite a few symptoms related to low blood pressure fluctuations, the most obvious being pre-syncope and syncope. At all times I carry these truths with me: 1. I wouldn’t wish this condition on anyone, and 2. I am fortunate that my health is currently stable.

I find my situation full of irony; you have no clue how many people have happily told me, “Someone always has it worse.” And while that’s absolutely true, that philosophy applies in both directions on the “how’s it going” spectrum. Someone always has it better. So this isn’t about that, because let’s face it: there is no fixed algorithm that helps us know where we are on that spectrum.

How could we compare illnesses, and injuries? They are all so different, and we are all paintings with vastly different details and histories. We are people from different walks of life, with external factors that could be major game-changers. As Brene Brown explained, “Comparison is the thief of joy!”

So as I was sitting there is the heart hospital, I knew I seemed “better off”… but really I was right where I belonged. No one wins when it comes to being sick. Choosing to compare illnesses is an unnecessary exercise in judgment, and it lacks compassion. Love yourself and others, right where you are… and breathe in joy.

Getty Image by Baluchis

Originally published: March 19, 2018
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