Images of illness

When I found out my father was terminally ill, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to watch his declining health. I began to cope reasonably well, as I was able to dip into my father’s life at a pace that I could cope with.

Because of my Cerebral Palsy, I have abnormal sensation and perception problems, which means I have difficulty in the way my brain interprets what I see when people are ill, so the image of their illness become slightly exaggerated. I also have problems in the way I perceive and make sense of things around me.

I’ve been like this since I was little, although this only started to become to clear to me in my twenties. As a child my parents shielded me from illness so I wasn’t aware I had it. I’m only beginning to see and understand it a little more now.

Over the years I’ve learned to switch off emotionally so that I can continue to live my life normally. I would struggle to live along side someone close with a chronic illness, which affected their appearance, because it’s not something I could easily avoid.

The first time I realised I had a problem was when my father-in-law was terminally ill and I was 25. It’s a part of my life I do struggle with, but I cope slightly better now that I’m getting older, but it’s still not easy.

14 Dec, 2013

4 thoughts on “Images of illness

  1. I think I do the same thing, but with me it’s just that I don’t want to see the truth.

    With my father’s illness, I still saw him as the strong man I always knew. I didn’t see the weakness and the changes in his appearance until I saw him in his casket. That was a shock to me.

    He didn’t look like my father and I actually ask the person at the funeral home “where is my father this isn’t him?” I think I’m doing the same with my mother. I see her as she has always been, I don’t see the changes that the illness has done to her.

    I guess it’s my mind playing tricks on me or I just don’t want to accept the truth.

    1. Thanks Lisa. At the end of any illness particularly with cancer, what you describe is very normal. It would be easy to see why we would be in denial because no one wants to lose a parent, let alone a parent to cancer.

      Once a person has passed on to spirit, it’s very common for our minds to play tricks so that the body we see is somehow detached from our loved ones when they were alive.

      I’m pleased for you that you were able to see your father as the strong man he was until the time you saw him in the casket. It makes what we have to deal with that little bit easier.

  2. I can understand why a person would turn off images of the person they love being ill, because it might be too painful.

    My Mom has chronic arthritis and varicose vein problems. It pains me to hear her daily struggles as I wished that I could do something to help. I do give her the best advice I know how to give as a former nurse and make sure to stay on top of her so that she doesn’t sweep little symptoms under the rug.

    In my case it’s very hard to tell that I am ill. Luckily my chemo meds are working and I am very close to being in remission. I am very thankful that I am handling this situation well.

    It’s so easy to curl up in a ball and just think woe is me and be negative. I think that being positive and embracing your illness helps you cope with it better, which in turn doesn’t cause turmoil in your head.

    1. Thanks Maria. In the majority of cases you’re right, in order for us not to have to deal with seeing a loved one’s health decline, we would choose to turn off images of the person we love being ill.

      There are some of us who unfortunately aren’t able to do that because of what we deal with (in my case CP). If it wasn’t for the fact that my parents shielded me from illness and death as a little girl, I probably would have found out a lot sooner I had an image problem around illness. I didn’t like the idea of people being terminally ill, but didn’t understand why.

      In this particular case I’m pleased my parents shielded me. It would have been much more difficult for me to have to have dealt with this as a child. I am so pleased you’re near remission and that you’re coping with your chemo. I hope this continues and you’re on the road to a full recovery.

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