The definition of prejudice is prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case.  Reading through friends’ blogs I follow on here, a strong theme develops of prejudice and how it becomes a factor of the illness they have to cope with.  They don’t tell for fear of exclusion.  They don’t share because it’s hard to know where to begin, and they feel unable to explain when over and over people form an opinion before being aware of the facts.

It makes me sad.  I have come across this myself through, what I choose to believe, are thoughtless comments.  Questions asked too soon before considering their impact.

Are you getting any better?  You look fine.  Aren’t we all tired?  How long till you’re better?  And my actual favourite now… Parvovirus?  Isn’t that a dog disease?

Hmmmm, do I look like a dog?

I can’t help myself but try and explain which comes out something like this – ‘no, well, yes, this is Parvovirus B19, known as Slapped Cheek disease (often accompanied by a vague sort of slapping motion towards my own face) which isn’t the Dog disease no, nothing to do with it, that makes dogs bleed to death’… the persistent have asked ‘did you get bitten by a dog who has it?’

At this point it’s actually quite funny.  But all you can really say is no.

What ever happened to the old ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’?  Why can’t people just say ‘that sounds difficult for you, how are you coping?’  It’s not that hard surely!

But anyway, I’ve decided that most people in the world don’t have much tact, and you just have to roll with it when you have something slightly confusing to them.  I’m ploughing my way through Andrew Solomon’s book Far from the Tree currently and learning about all sorts of different types of people and communities.  The current chapter is about dwarfs or LP’s as they prefer to be called and the odd mixture of their appearance being impossible to hide from coupled with the association with children’s fantasy figures!  Now that is a tough life to be led in public.  One could argue that their ‘disabilities’ appear on the outside and therefore are easier to deal with than invisible illnesses but I don’t think I’d say that LP’s have life easier than someone with a chronic illness.

It’s a tough addition to any illness, to have to manage other people’s attitudes and prejudices but if you can develop a thick skin and not get angry or disappointed in their limitations, I still think it’s better to talk about it all, if you can.  Think of yourself as some sort of higher developed person, blessed with an opportunity to make the world a better place … one prejudice at a time.  And if you can’t, just tell them to bugger off instead.  More fun.  🙂

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