The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Even Sick Chicks Want to Feel Pretty

As we deal with chronic conditions, most of us have had to take the role of “I am woman hear me roar.” But during those middle-of-the-night-moments when we find “Sleepless in Seattle” on television we just want to be a girl again. Suddenly we remember how cute the young, awkward Tom Hanks was. It doesn’t get more girly than sobbing along with Meg Ryan, telling the T.V., “You aren’t crazy, honey. It really is true love even though you’ve never met the guy.”

Though most of us have read those lists of items that are wonderful little gifts to bring someone who has a chronic illness, few of us have been on the receiving end of them. People still find it easier to whip up a casserole than get creative. And that’s okay. You have to be able to laugh when someone drops off a stew to eat in an hour and you find that it’s still frozen
solid.

I’ve lived with rheumatoid arthritis since the age of twenty-four; fifteen years now. Though I am used to dealing with chronic pain, an intense wound on my right ankle this autumn brought along an entirely different set of issues, emotions, pain, and desire for comfort.

Lambee
In November, I ended up in the hospital for seven days with the flesh eating bacteria in my ankle wound. Ironically, just the week before I had picked up an item at Bath and Body Works that wasn’t usually my style—Lambie slipper socks with the little pink nose and eye lashes. I wore one on my “good foot” every day and nearly ever nurse who helped me said “Where did you get those? They are so cute!”

More than nurse said they were heading straight to the store to stock up on them for gifts. Despite not showering for days because the doctor hadn’t given permission, a fuzzy sheep looking up from my foot somehow
made me want to burst into singing, “I feel pretty. Oh, so pretty.”

Another way to feel pretty (especially while hospitalized) is to watch three episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County in a row (because you dropped the remote control and don’t dare beep the nurse again.) I’ll
confess, there is nothing like seeing how unhappy beautiful women can be.

And let’s hear it for PJs that are comfortable and cute! Because my wound was on my ankle, the hospital allowed me to wear my own pajamas. Each
night my husband took them home to wash and let me change into a fresh set. I sprayed so much stuff with my lavender linen spray I’m sure the nurses thought they’d been transported to a Renuzit commercial of lavender fields.

We gals have to force our self to go out of the way sometimes to just keep feeling human. My first venture out of the house about two weeks after being home was to get a bottle of hair coloring because I didn’t know the
color name, just the number.

I’ll admit that though this was the first time since I was thirteen that I’d gone three weeks without mascara, I didn’t think I looked that bad. When you carry around a bag that is attached to your arm with tubing (my I.V.)
you assume people may give some grace. But then my mom and I went to sign my son up for Tae Kwon Do and the instructor told Joshua to say something to his “two grandmothers.” Excuse me? “Uh. . . I would be his mother.” Out came the mascara the next day.

There is nothing wrong with attempting to do what you have to do to feel pretty while fighting chronic illness. And remember, humor is a beautiful thing. As I was lying in bed I overheard my mom on the phone talking to a friend telling her that I had the “MAN-eating virus.”

“Mom!” I hollered. “It’s not a MAN-eating virus! Don’t say that! My sister will never visit again!” There is nothing like a good laugh that can bring the glow back to your cheeks.

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1 Comment»

  Maureen wrote @

What a great essay, I m still laughing!! You are right on point with all of it. I can remember having my mom smuggle my make up into the hospital for me when I couldn’t shower, at least I could put some mascara on!!
It helps to know that even the author of 505 things. . . doesn’t always get the “right” gifts either!!
Congrats on your post in Grand Rounds!


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