Sunday, February 6, 2011

Leper of the Century

I remember being taught about lepers in Sunday School. And on TV, when Charlton Heston played in the movie, Ben Hur. There they were. Lepers. His mother and his sisters were cast away as lepers, hiding in a huge cavern. On occasion, some one would stop by and leave them food. They had few visitors, and what little visitors that they did have? Scattered family or friends who stood back 20 feet. So they would not catch leprosy.

Let me propose that there are New Lepers of the Century. The reason why I select the term 'lepers' is because there are many shared similarities between lepers and those with an Invisible Illness.

For clarity here, Invisible Illness is meant to include (not all-inclusive) dysautonomia, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), neurocardiogenic syncope (NCS), orthostatic intolerance (OI), postural orthostatic tachycardic syncope (POTS), multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), Lyme's disease, Chiari malformation (CM), intracranial hypertension (IH), reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) aka complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and systemic lupus erythematous (SLE).

There are stories after stories that describe people who did not get their diagnosis for 10 months or 10 years. Searching for an expert that can remember something that will help this patient. And after the diagnosis is made....what do these people do?

They are shut-ins, many of them. Honestly, as a researcher and a scientist, it is logical that we do not know how many people have these diagnoses. Why don't we know? Because they are Invisible Illnesses that doctors usually do not learn about in school. A specialist in cardiology, neurology, neurosurgery, pain management, and/or rheumatology is needed in these cases. So really, I propose that the current estimates of incidences of all the above diagnoses are actually higher than stated. That is because they are invisible for too long.

Since there are no cures for these Invisible Illnesses (much like lepers), they become cast away from society. Oh sorry. Can't get my wheelchair down the aisle of that restaurant, because their aisles are not wide enough. How embarrassing. I just want to hide.

People in the USA no longer throw rocks at the disabled. Other countries do ostracize the handicapped, the lame, the ill, the bed-ridden. And some of these countries throw rocks at the front windows of disabled drivers, just to keep the population of 'abnormal' people down.

As if we have to be perfect on the outside.

Wake up. We are here. We may be alone, we may be cast away, and you may try to take our dignity away from us. But honestly, we are people just like you, and we deserve dignity. Dignity is everything. Without dignity, dehumanization occurs. Once a person is dehumanized, the door is open to cruelty, inconsideration, and mistreatment of the person.

Ultimately, this allows nursing homes to neglect their elders. This allows society to disacknowledge the disabled, to allow business professionals to decay into semi-humans or lunatics, and deaths of multiple patients. And because of the inability to diagnose, years go by and symptoms worsen and then POOF! the patient is dead and we do not know the real cause of death.

Take a moment to consider this. If we got a bunch of Caring People out there to Care about humans who are struggling with health issues, we can organize to influence the culture! This just needs to happen one person at a time. Then perhaps we save a life. If we do it once, we can do it again.

So the next time you bump into a person in a wheelchair, don't get all befuddled and blush red. Watch what the person is doing, and anticipate their next move. Act as if it was you, because you could have been in my car accident this morning.

Change comes from recognition of problems. It is a problem that today's America is filled with disabled, unemployed, depressed souls who are told there is nothing wrong with them and they do not have any problems. The solution? Take some food to the Lepers. Knit a blanket for one. Be human. And more than that, show love. Just show love. Thank you.


  1. The US needed a cultural change on how we take care of the elderly.

  2. The society is a reflection of how we treat our children and our elderly.
    You are right. The same problems continue. If we show love, that should make everything better. Lolv.


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