This is not the week to tell me how good I look … even if I look and feel good.
The week of Oct. 13 is Invisible Disabilities Week. As we all know, multiple sclerosis (MS) can be as invisible as Casper the Ghost. Invisible Disabilities Week isn’t limited to people with MS, of course. But we have to be close to the top of the list of people who are told they look good when they actually feel terrible. The mission statement of the Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) speaks to our experience:
“IDA is about believing. We believe you! The frequently invisible nature of illness and pain may lead to disbelief about that illness or pain by those surrounding the person who lives daily with invisible disabilities. This disbelief can lead to misunderstandings, rejection by friends, family and heath care providers. It may also lead to accusations of laziness or faking an illness. We are passionate about providing awareness that invisible illness, pain and disabilities are very real!”
Indeed, they are. I’m feeling great today, but tomorrow I might be too tired to drag myself out of bed. The other day I read about a woman who tripped, hit her head, and — you guessed it — was accused of being intoxicated. Fellow MS News Today columnist Teresa Wright-Johnson wrote about the problem of invisibility a year ago. I’m sure everyone reading this column can think of times in their lives when they were accused of whining, being lazy, or, of course, being drunk.
The possibility of invisible disability symbols
The IDA is campaigning for laws requiring that a symbol for invisible disease (the organization’s logo, a stylized “i”) be printed on government-issued IDs, such as a driver’s license. It would be similar to the way a symbol on driver’s licenses is used in many states to identify organ donors, but would identify the owner of the ID as someone with an invisible disease or illness.
Alaska is the first state to pass a law like this. Earlier this year, Colorado legislators considered a similar bill but it appears to have stalled in a House committee.
I like the idea and will be contacting my congressional representative to see if I can get the ball rolling in Maryland. What do you think of the idea?
You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.
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