Thursday, 7 November 2013

Chronic Questioning

When I was little, there were a few children in my class who had allergies to peanuts. Obviously, at the age of nine I didn't know much about allergies since they never really affected me. We were informed that we needed to wash our hands after eating things with peanuts in them, and then the teacher allowed us to ask questions about the allergies. One of the children asked about if chocolates are okay, and one of the children with allergies said that it was okay only if they weren't made in the same place as peanuts were. That made me think about my favourite chocolate things so I asked, "Are chocolate biscuits okay?" And one of the children smiled and said, "yes, I love those."

"It's not a chocolate allergy, of course chocolate biscuits are acceptable," My teacher barked at me. Even though I still had more questions, I didn't ask anymore. I didn't like feeling dumb so I just sat quietly and hoped someone else asked the questions I wanted to ask.

That's just one example of a chronic illness going unexplained: A little girl was made to feel stupid for not knowing more about it. There are lots of reasons a chronic illness goes unexplained but this should never be the case. Sometimes we don't even know enough about it, despite having it ourself. Are we too afraid to ask and for what reason? Feeling dumb shouldn't keep you from asking about your diagnosis, regardless of how long you've been treating it. I know I don't understand everything about having psoriatic arthritis but I don't stop asking questions. It took me a long time to learn that not many people will put you down for asking a question.

Because of my experience, I try and be very kind when asnwering questions about chronic illness- just because it seems obvious to me doesn't mean everyone knows. Esepcially someone who isn't affected by it. When someone asks you a question- so long as you are comfortable of answering- please take the time to reply. You never know what an impact you could make. And if you're not comfortable, just explain that too.

Everyone has a right to learn without humiliation, whether it's you or anyone else.

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