When Nobody Knows
Because Nobody Sees
These are the
Sorts of Things that Somebody Says
and Somebody Does
"It's so hard when everyone
thinks I'm goofing off. When I get tired, my heart doesn't work too good,
and sometimes I just look off into space. That's when my teacher gets mad
"When I was in third
grade phys. ed., I was trying to do the endurance part of a swim test.
My chest got so tight from my asthma that I was having trouble breathing.
The gym teacher couldn't even tell. He just kept calling, "you can do it...you're
almost there." Finally I just sunk, and then I got rescued. I'm really
afraid of the water now!"
"When I turned nine, I
got this awful illness called 'myalgic encephalomyelitis'. Have you ever
heard such a big word before? It's also called 'chronic fatigue syndrome'.
Well, the hardest thing about it is that even though it makes me feel terrible,
with awful headaches and no energy, people
don't believe that I'm sick. They think I'm just faking.
It's mega tough to cope, because I can't even explain how I feel..."
"I've got this problem
that doesn't show at all. I don'thave spots and my hair hasn't fallen out.
When my headaches get bad, I feel like pulling my hair, though, and everybody
thinks I'm being a wimp. They don't know what it feels like, and don't
believe me when I tell them it's like someone hammering on my head. "
"I had all of these
aches and pains, but lots of doctors couldn't find anything wrong, so most
everyone stopped listening to me. It was so frustrating. Then finally I
had this one test that showed I had something called lupus. At least it
was a relief to know that I wasn't crazy."
"I have asthma. It was
hard at school when my gym teacher thought I was just not being diligent
when I was stopping every few minutes. I felt like slapping her in the
face when I told her what was wrong and she didn't believe me. I felt so
bad. It was even worse when we had field day at school and I could not
participate. It was really annoying to have every one calling me lazy when
I could not participate. I was really mad" !
"I've got cystic fibrosis
and nobody knows but me, and of course my family. It takes me about two
hours to do my treatments and take my medicines every day, but even then
I don't think about it. I just want to be like everybody else, and I am!"
"I grew up being
allergic to lots of chemicals...'so what's the big deal...just stay away
from them', kids would tell me. Of course, the only way to do that would
be to lock myself in a sterile room!"
"I have something called
Crohn's disease, and am forever running around at school, looking for an
empty bathroom so that no one will hear the diarrhea. When I have bad cramps
in my belly, it's tough to explain why I'm absent from school, even to
"Asthma consumes a big
part of my life. In P.E. I can't even breathe and have to stop to
rest. The kids don't laugh because they know what's wrong with me
and understand. Often times though in run-around games such as tag
I get laughed at because I have to keep stopping to catch my breath and
only catch the slower ones."
Do you have a story to tell about an invisible problem? If
you do, I hope that you'll mail it to me in this envelope!
Tap the moon on his
chin, and you'll be whisked over to the site map!
Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468
updated: November 14, 2004