There’s a modern movie adapted from William Shakespeare’s play
‘The Taming of the Shrew’, that we had to watch and analyse for school.
When the star of the movie discovers her boyfriend is only dating her because he was paid to, she uses the class assignment of poem writing to explain exactly how much, and why, she hates him. I don’t remember much about the movie, but the title of her sonnet (also the title of the movie) has stuck with me over the years.
I’ve been blessed with a wonderful husband, who was most certainly not paid to date me. If I wrote a poem about him, it would be too disgustingly mushy to share. But, when chronic illness was frustrating me the other day, I remembered that line ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’. It seemed the perfect way to let it all out.
So here it is, in list form, because I didn’t have the spoons for a sonnet.
Ten Things I Hate About You, Chronic Illness.
1. You hurt me.
Physically, mentally and emotionally. Every day.
If you were a person, I’d say this was an abusive relationship, and leave you.
2. You hurt the people I love.
You make them watch me suffer, while making sure there’s not really anything they can do to help me suffer less.
3. You’re a stalker.
Seriously, I can’t get away from you.
It doesn’t matter if I’m eating, showering, trying to sleep – you’re always there.
4. You steal my money.
You’re expensive, but not like a cute dress, or a fun new gadget – more like flushing money down the toilet. Doctor’s appointments, tests, treatments, medical aids like my compression stockings…
5. You won’t let me work.
You expect me to keep handing you money, but won’t give me the energy to work enough to support myself financially.
6. You won’t let me drive the car.
Why must you keep me trapped within a 10km radius of my house? You make it so that I keep having to ask my Mum to take me to appointments. My Mum has her own chronic illnesses, her spoons are too precious to waste playing taxi. Plus, I’m 26 now: I’d like some independence. For example, it’d be nice if I could get home with my groceries (the ones I could get before you rushed me out of the store) without my fruit and veg being bruised and squished from getting bounced around on my mobility scooter.
7. You go out of your way to ruin my plans.
Exhibit A: Family Christmas last year, which Mr Happy and I were hosting at our place. I spent the week before resting, hydrating, taking my meds, having early nights…. But I woke up on the day with excruciating pain in my abdomen. Took panadol, tried to ignore it. You kept making it worse, until it got to the point I couldn’t breathe. I spent the day in the ER, hooked up to a drip. They never found out what it was, or why it happened. But I already know what it was. It was you, being a jerk, like always.
8. You stop me from doing things that I love.
How long has that old piano been sitting on my back verandah, waiting for you to give me the energy to sand it back and turn it into something beautiful? Sketching, painting, origami, composing music, woodwork… I can’t remember the last time you let me do any of those things.
9. You sabotage my chances of having deep relationships with others.
You get in the way of me sharing experiences and making memories with others. You make sure I can’t join the local pilates group, or go out for coffee with the Bible study group every Tuesday morning. You yell “no!” nearly every time someone invites me to the movies, or over for dinner. Thankfully, Mr Happy and my close friends and family pretty much ignore your sabotaging efforts. They’ll forgo the shopping and movies and hiking we would have done previously, and sit on the lounge instead, so that we can hang out. But I miss the shopping and movies and hiking.
10. You lie about me to other people.
Because of you, people make judgements before they get to know the real me. When they see me on my mobility scooter, you yell out to them that I’m too lazy to walk. When I call to cancel plans with a new friend, you whisper to them that I don’t care about them. When people see me step out of the car that’s parked in the disabled spot, you encourage them to ignore my permit, I’m young and healthy looking, so obviously faking.
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So, there’s my ten things. Do you recognise any from my list? Are there some on your list that I missed? Let me know in the comments. Let’s tell chronic illness that the way it treats us is not okay.
P.S. For the people that are worried I’m not aware my chronic illness isn’t a person, don’t worry, I know. But sometimes it helps to picture it that way, like in my letter Dear Dysautonomia, the piece that got me hooked on blogging.