“You look so good! You must be doing better!”
“You’re looking like yourself again. It must be nice to be getting back to normal.”
“You’ve lost so much weight – I’m glad you’re feeling better!”
I hear it all the time, and it’s nice to hear that I look good, and it is true that I am feeling a lot better than I was a couple years ago, but…
But the logic behind these statements is flawed.
When I was newly diagnosed my doctors put me on steroids for a year and a half while we tried to sort things out. The steroids made me gain weight in very strange and disproportionate ways. I gained 30 pounds and it felt like most of it was in my face. I had the classic steroid moonface. I looked much heavier than people were used to.
(This is the first photo in my camera roll, about a year and a half ago. This was the first selfie I took when I felt like I was finally looking like myself again. I have very few pictures of myself from when I was at my heaviest.)
So now that I’m thin again people assume that means I’m better.
But the thing is, my fatness was not my illness. We learned in Psych 101 that people mistake correlation for causation all the time. I happened to have a fat face and I happened to be sick. The weight gain was not the source of my problems so even though I have lost the weight, I still have problems.
They don’t see that just before I walked into the meeting I was pumping my lungs up in the privacy of my office because I’m struggling to breathe.
They don’t know that I’ve taken 3 kinds of painkillers and slathered my entire back in topical numbing lotion just to make it through the day.
They don’t realize that as we’re talking I’m nauseated because of my pain.
They just seen thinness and assume that I’m fixed.
(This is me at the annual meet-the-teacher bbq, almost (but not quite) the same size as I was pre-steroids).