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Immune Systems

Part of why I’m not taking this situation lightly, and perhaps why I don’t take a lot of situations lightly, is because I have something very rare called Still’s Disease. If you care to read about what that is, here’s a link.ย 

It’s one of those “You don’t look sick” kind of things(most of the time.) My immune system tends to be hyperactive, but it can also run itself down. I’ve had some form of this most of my life, rheumatoid arthritis, only with Still’s, it is systemic. Meaning the inflammation can occur anywhere in the body. It can be life-threatening. I’ve sometimes followed a restricted diet of essentially whole foods, nothing processed, avoiding all nightshade plants, what many now know as an anti-inflammatory diet, and that often helps some. I don’t talk about it as much as I used to because the fact is that people are not as kind, or haven’t been, about such things as you might think or expect. People tend to judge books by their cover. I’m getting older so it isn’t quite what it used to be with regard to some of these things, but, I’ll tell you I’m blonde, I’m tall, and when I was younger I was one of those girls that people used to just come up to and say, “Are you a model? You should be a model. You could have been a model.” And bad pick-up line or not, they said it because I was just pretty enough that they thought it might work. But friends said it, my grandmother’s friends said it, and so on. So, people tend to look at someone who they deem to be beautiful and imagine such a person could have no problems. In other instances, people are just ignorant, dumb. When I was in junior high, I missed pretty much all of the seventh grade, lost thirty pounds, nearly died, was sent to specialists at a university hospital, the best arthritis doctor in the country, allegedly, and when I did return to school, there were girls who were jealous. It wasn’t fair that I didn’t have to go to school all those months. Someone started a rumor that I’d gotten pregnant and had an abortion that had gone wrong and that’s why I wasn’t at school. I’d just turned thirteen and as a result of the illness, becoming emaciated, I experienced delayed menstruation, couldn’t have gotten pregnant if that kind of thing was even going on in my junior high life and it wasn’t, and I remember being completely horrified at how cruel some of the things that were said about me, and to me, were. I remember being astonished at just how dumb some of the other kids were. Well, that was one of many lessons in understanding that we’re all living in our own realities. It was one of many lessons in understanding how people assume things and how wrong they sometimes are, and how much they often really don’t give a shit if they’re being mean or not. They don’t. Some of the meanest were also the most popular. People start with using gossip and group-think as a bonding tool when they’re young. I also learned that if you look a certain way or seem to present yourself a certain way, attractive, happy, confident, well-adjusted, people don’t want to know if you’ve struggled or had a hard life or difficult experiences, because knowing that makes them feel bad about themselves for hating you for being beautiful or having the perfect life they need to think you have. There were other kids who were just frightened of what happened to me because one minute I was this normal, seemingly healthy, girl in their class, and the next I was deathly ill. I remember my mother explaining to me that they were ignorant, they didn’t know better, they were afraid, and I should pity them their ignorance. I should feel sorry for them that they could be so cruel. It was the old adage of taking the high road, and things could’ve been worse, I could have been them. There were one or two decent people, and they became lifelong heroes to me, if only in memory now.

That kind of thinking, taking the high road, can be helpful and has gotten me through some moments. But the fact is that in adulthood, I haven’t necessarily found in people the manifestation of maturity and intelligence and respect one might expect. There have been times when I’ve been continuously stunned at the ignorance of people, most of whom have thought themselves to be very clever or funny, none of whom would have ever looked in the mirror and had the realization that they were intentionally cruel to another human being who was struggling. They couldn’t see the struggle, the illness, the virus, the secrets, the whatevers, so to them, it was okay to just be shitty. “Oh, well, she’s pretty and she thinks she’s all that, besides, I don’t like her, so, she’ll get over it.” I haven’t found the manifestation of maturity one might expect. And, frankly, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to have ever had this somewhat amusing realization, even in adulthood, some of the meanest ones are still some of the most popular. So it goes. There’s nothing so dangerous to any group than someone who thinks for themselves or has a different perspective. I’ll tell you something, you could be growing a horn out of the back of your head, have a visible third eye in your forehead that is always getting infected, and some idiot would be envious of that. “Is she turning into a unicorn now? Ooooh. That makes me so mad. Does that eye have special powers? I want those powers too. That’s not fair.” It isn’t a matter of being angry or not, it’s that I don’t have the patience for any of it that I used to. I don’t have the wherewithal to be preaching to such people that they should want to be themselves. That they have their own gifts. I’ve been through some hellish experiences in this life, the kind of shit that nobody just looking at me would imagine. But, I’ve also known great joy. I value love above all else because of it all, because I know what it is not to have love. It has all taught me the value of who I am, regardless of what anyone else can see or understand or not. I’ve worked hard to have an appreciation for things, for life, that I have.

If you are a decent person, an intelligent person, what I’m saying is, you never know what someone else is really going through, and it’s none of your business. That’s what any intelligent person can correctly assume about the tribulations of any other human being, I don’t know and it’s none of my business. What I learned is this, there are all these things in my life that no one knows about, that those who would be envious or judging or hateful, have no idea about, and if they knew those things, they wouldn’t ever be envious, and every person has such things in their life that no one else knows about.ย  So you don’t ever know what someone else is dealing with, err on the side of decency. There are people out there right now that are struggling in ways we can’t imagine, stressed out and hurting or just out of toilet paper and no way to get any or down to their last can of cat food and they don’t own a cat, but if you walked past them on the street, you would never know any of it. I’ve found it’s very difficult in life to build up an immunity to cruelty. Everyone doesn’t have to be friends or even like one another. But we’re all human beings, and it’s time to find the common ground in that.

Now, if you see someone running down the street towards you, wielding a bloody machete, use some common sense. I mean, we don’t know, maybe he’s the guy that took the machete away from the guy that got it bloody, but, you know, cross the street anyway, or run.

Be as decent as you can be to your fellow human beings. Be good to each other.

Teri

4 thoughts on “Immune Systems”

  1. Teri, this is why I love you! You are an amazing woman! I am saving this to re-read when I get those feelings!

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    1. Thank you, Sherry. The thing is, I try very hard because it would be too damn easy to give up. I know what it is to have to fight for every day. If any of it looks easy, then that’s a matter of consistency to my dedication to the people I love. And if I have a bad day, emotionally, physically, whatever, I let it be just that day, and then get on with it. The truth is people don’t know better, they just don’t. And some of the meanest people I’ve encountered, they thought they were being funny. So maybe they learn something and maybe they don’t. The fact is, so many just do not care or are even glad when they hurt someone. Either way, I have to keep on keeping on. Take care of you, and what matters to you. Thank you for all your compliments and support, Sherry. It isn’t nothing to me. I really appreciate it.

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