None of Them Look Sick
According to an article in the CT Mirror last week, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy commented about a bunch of people demonstrating in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana in the state, "None of the look sick".
The article describes says he was joking, but something about it really bothered me. Earlier that day, I had been at the dentist. There was an older man sitting in the waiting room while his wife had her teeth cleaned. He didn't look sick either. However, he was talking with the folks in the office about his battle with cancer, and whether he would make it.
My mind wandered to a friend who has a small bump on the side of his neck. He doesn't look sick either, and he thought the lesion he had on the side of his neck was from shaving and not a Basel cell carcinoma. In fact one of the reasons that early detection programs for various types of cancer are important is that by the time the person looks or feels sick, the cancer is already very far advanced.
Then, there are the reports of when someone with a mental illness snaps and shoots up a neighborhood or commits some other horrific act. Everyone always says, "but he seemed like a normal guy".
For those who are suffering from many forms of chronic illnesses, unless you look closely you may never notice the symptoms of the chronic illness. In fact, people with chronic illnesses often try hard to look as normal as possible in hopes of avoid both pity and predators.
Look online. When people post on Facebook, they'll spend a lot of time talking about things that are going well. They'll have their pictures of their pink drink cocktails on Friday night, or the big red plastic cup filled from the keg at the party on Saturday night. Yes, they might gripe about insensitive partners or other more socially acceptable complaints, but they're unlikely to talk about their real struggles. That is kept for behind closed doors.
So, no. None of the people demonstrating in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana looked sick to our Governor. Unless we get to know who they are and gain their confidence, we will never know what, if any, ailments afflict them. But that's not really the point.
Years ago, I spoke with some advocates for people with disabilities. They spoke about 'TAB's; temporarily able bodied people. It is an important perspective to have. Just because were currently able bodied doesn't mean that one day we won't be disabled, or fighting a chronic illness.
No, we should all keep in mind that those around us may be suffering and may not be showing it and we, ourselves, may have our turn at suffering soon enough. So, we should shy away from trite over simplistic comments like "None of them look sick".