You Don’t Look Sick

Has this been said to you? Those of us chronically ill or injured have probably been given this all too common line, “You don’t look sick.” Or how about this one, “Well, you look good!”*

If we look sick, we are sick, if we don’t look sick we aren’t. Right? No!

Most people have five senses; taste, touch, see, smell, and hear. Now, we can mistakenly use our sense of sight to judge someone’s sense of touch.

An injured brain can not be seen. The brain is enclosed by the skull and a protective water layer called dura matter (both of which are damaged on me). Injured brains are felt.

Fatigue can not be seen, it’s felt.

We can’t judge a person’s sense of feeling based on our sense of sight.

This is why invisible illness is so misjudged ending up with the ill feeling very much alone.

I met a lady in my brain injury group whose teenage son suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car and then run over by a second car which dragged his body underneath it before stopping. When she arrived at the hospital she told me he looked to her like an alien. His brain was actually visible and he was so beyond recognition, she could only identify him based on the fact that he bit his nails which was the only recogizable part of him. This is probably the worst case of TBI I have ever heard of, and by some miracle, her son survived his brain injury but with many many deficits.

Yet, this is not the norm. TBI is typically an invisible malady. It effects all of life in so many various aspects most of which go unseen to onlookers. TBI is felt. Chronic fatigue is felt. Autoimmune diseases are felt.

We want to be well. We don’t want to wake up every day wondering what we have to do to just barely get by. We don’t want to tell our best friend we can’t receive her visit because we are too weak. We hate missing church. We want to get up, feet hit the ground running and get everything done while having strength and energy to play with our kids and make chocolate cake for dessert.

Not all ilnesses are visible, rather, they are hidden inside the intricate workings of our very fragile bodies that can easily become disfunctional living in this fallen world. While we may not look sick, believe me when I say we are bravely fighting every day and never, ever giving up….. and are courageously smiling and enduring through the pain.

Much love,

Viv 😍

*This post was written a long time ago. I’m no longer frustrated over the way people respond to invisible illness, but I still feel this post holds a few valuable insights worth sharing with others. ~Viv

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Just Say No

One thing I’ve recently learned is that the word “no” is a complete sentence. For some reason in our culture, we feel led to giving others long, drawn out speeches as to why we can’t participate, do something, go somewhere, etc. Our embarrassment over having to decline someone by saying no is underscored by giving immediate excuses highlighted and given in a long speech. We feel like we have to explain. In this sense, our lives become plundered by questions, raised eyebrows, and an overall sense of feeling like we are in the defense zone. We feel bad for saying no. We feel guilty for saying no. We feel embarrassed for saying no.

I know I do.

My mentor recently told me, “no” is a complete sentence. It’s okay to simply say no.

Living with chronic illness or injury requires extra effort to keep up. We wear out easy, things are harder, take longer, and leave us wiped out.

If I push myself or allow others to push me, my brain injury pushes back harder! I have learned out of necessity I need to say no. It’s not a preference, at times it’s a requirement.

If you don’t feel up to going, or up to doing what others ask…….simply say no. If you’ve had your personal space, or your boundary lines crossed, just say no. If it’s against your beliefs or makes you uncomfortable, just say no. Or maybe if you’re like me and you just have nothing left to give, just say no.

We are not obligated to constantly feel like we need to explain. The minute we start giving out reasons as to why we say no, it’s giving others a chance at convincing us to say yes. They will try to overthrow our no, by undermining our reasons and then we feel pressured to change and give in.

Yes, there are times when it’s necessary to give an explanation and in those cases, the person you may need to say no to may need to understand for important reasons. That’s when we must be ready to give our reason(s) tactfully and not allow them to make us feel badly for declining their request.

If we feel like it’s not respectful to simply and tactfully say no……let me ask you this; will others respect your no or try to turn it into their yes? Will a long drawn out explanation with roman numerals and subpoints A and B be respected? If not…..then your no is not being respected and quite possibly neither are you.

Photo taken by my mentor

Much love,

Viv

For prayer requests please visit my page Come Pray With Me and join in prayer with a loving community of believers.

Survival Mode

For years now, my family and I have been in this mode. Barely keeping our heads up above water……..just getting by.

Are you here, or have you been here?

Sometimes chronic illness or injury feels like grasping for a buoy and hanging on, barely keeping your head up above water. Then a huge wave of unexpected symptoms wash over your head pulling you under, leaving you fearful and disoriented, trying to figure out which way is up, and struggling to come up for air. Each new challenge, whether physical or emotional, is like an extra weight, pulling you downward so then you struggle even harder to stay afloat treading the deep waters that never seem to dissipate.

Yet, God is our buoy. He keeps us up and afloat daily. His grace never ends and His strength is beyond us. He is the ultimate source for enduring hardships, and fights alongside of us in the deepest, darkest, oceans of trials. His grace is sufficient and His mercy does endure forever.

2 Corinthians 12:9 King James Version

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It may not look pretty……this survival mode. But, we ARE surviving. We still get up every morning to see the sun rise yet once again.

I still see the faces of my darling children every day and here the soft whispers of, “I love you, Mommy” at the breakfast table.

Though for long or short durations life can be tough at times we can still glorify God and enjoy Him forever; because His grace abounds when we are weak, when things aren’t pretty, when bodies fail and life appears to go under. He’s always here, always surrounding us with His loving arms, and he loves us more than our finite minds can ever fully comprehend.

Hold onto Him in faith and never fear because when we are too weak to hold on, He holds us still and always is holding us. God will never ever let go because He promises to keep us, preserve us, and protect us until He calls His beloved safely home.

Much love,

Viv 💖

Good Eyes, Bad Brain

Happy June, Dear Ones!! Well, here’s some good news. After checking my eyes and evaluating me, my eye doctor says that my eyes are perfectly healthy and the issue is brain related, not eye related. He looked at my husband and told him that the eyes don’t see anything……they just send messages back to our brains to properly receive and process signals from them. Eye tissue is actually brain tissue and the eyes are the pathway to the brain. Since my brain is healing, I can not handle visual stimulation whatsoever. I tried to watch an action movie with the kids but the aftermath makes me change emotionally, and not in a good way! Staying offline and limiting screens has made a huge difference in my healing process.

This is only temporary however, my eye doctor does think my issues with light sensitivity may be chronic.

I do want to return to blogging but it can only be possible if I keep it at a minimum. I hope to be here but if I’m quiet at times or delayed in responding, please bear with me because this ol’ noggin of mine is truly healing, but slowly, and can’t process things properly at the present. I am continuing to pray for you and yours often and greatly appreciate the sweet thoughts, notes, and prayers from you all.

Much love,

Viv 💚

Please feel free to check out my new page Come Pray With Me, for prayer requests and praise reports and don’t hesitate to join in. 🙏

In case you missed it….

Here’s the link to all the Diamond’s Conference videos from this past weekend.

I was very encouraged by many of the speakers who offered so much hope from God’s word regarding illness. Isabella Morgenthal, and Esther Smith had many powerful and insightful thoughts regarding the grace of God amidst trials.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlnaBhNTHV2-9GtZUn6-h_K8YTRiEJe-Z