Hello fellow XLH-ers and other followers of my blog. Writing another post has been on my “to-do” list, but life has gotten in the way!
I’ve been inspired to write about saying “thank you.” It seems I’ve had many opportunities to say that two-word phrase recently. I’ve come to realize that saying thank you works for many situations, when other words fail me. There are three specific ways that I’ve found it to be useful.
#1 The Sarcastic “Thank you.”
#2 The Genuine “Thank you.”
#3 The “I’m-At-a-Loss-For-Other-Words Thank you.”
The #1 Thank you, sarcastic version, I haven’t had to use much. A possible use for it might be when someone says to you, “Wow, you look like $&*@ today.” Your response of “thank you” should be accompanied by an appropriate facial expression, like a smirk or that little head bobble that teenage girls are so good at doing. I’m still working on the head bobble.
The #2 Thank you, the “genuine thank you,” is one I hope I use regularly. I hope I live a life of genuine thankfulness. Recently I had occasion to use it regarding my XLH.
An acquaintance stopped me at a social event and asked, in the most southern “bless your heart” drawl you can imagine, “Banjogrrl, may I ask you a personal question?”
“Sure,” I said. “This should be interesting,” I thought.
She asked, “Does it pain you to walk?”
I wish I could spell out “pain” the way she said it, but it was at least two syllables and stretched out as only we southerners can do it and used as a verb. (Think Julia Sugarbaker from the TV show “Designing Women,” although I think Julia was not nearly as sweet as my acquaintance is. But Julia’s southern drawl was great.)
“Yes,” I said, wondering if I need to work on my facial expressions a little more while walking. Less grimace, less tension or something, I guess.
“Well, it pains me to walk, too and I know a little how you feel, although we probably have different health problems.”
Awkward silence. “Thank you for asking,” I said to her. I was genuinely touched by her reaching out to connect with me. We didn’t go into what our health problems are, but it was a mutually understood connection.
I’ve had a couple occasions to use the #3 “I’m-At-a-Total-Loss-For-Other-Words Thank you.”
One was when another acquaintance out of the blue and with other people around pulled something out of her bag, handed it to me and said, “Have you ever tried grape seed extract? I’ve been watching you and I think this would help you. I take these pills every day and now my hands aren’t as stiff. You should try these.” Along with the bottle of grape seed extract was a brochure explaining the benefits of said product.
I didn’t know what to say to her except, “Thank you.” There were other people around and it wasn’t a good time to do the 30-second speech about X-linked Hypophosphatemia and why I might not move through this world very gracefully. I didn’t open the bottle of pills and knew I needed to return them. A couple weeks later when she asked if I had tried them yet (maybe there was no visual improvement in my walking?) I told her, “It’s complicated but no, I have not used them and I’m returning them to you to give to someone else who might benefit from these.” Let me tell you, if grape seed extract actually helped the 1 in 20,000 people in the world who have XLH, then the pharmacies would have those pills flying off the shelves.
The other time I used the “I’m at a Total Loss for Words so I’ll Say Thank You Instead” was when I was chatting with an acquaintance as I was about to get into my car. She asked me, while following me around to the passenger side so that I could put something in my front passenger seat, “Banjogrrl, you seem to be moving a bit slower these days. Are you having trouble with your back?”
Once again, not willing to give the 30-second XLH explanation speech and as I made my way back around to the driver’s side, I responded with “I do have some bone issues.” Part of the reason for being non-specific with people is that it requires a certain level of vulnerability and frankly, I was ready to sit down in my car and go home and just not interested in being vulnerable in that moment.
So, as I was getting into the driver’s seat, she leaned in, placed a hand on my shoulder and exclaimed in all earnestness, “Be healed in the name of Jesus!”
I looked up at her sincere face and said, “Thank you,” because this time, I really DIDN’T know what else to say. We said our goodbyes and then I drove away.
Sigh. As I drove away, I started to feel aggravated. What I wish I could have said was, “I was born with a rare disease called x-linked hypophosphatemia. I have noticeable physical characteristics of XLH and then some that aren’t so noticeable. I was diagnosed when I was ONE YEAR OLD. I’m pretty sure my parents, both of whom are alive and are people of faith, have been praying for me for the last FIFTY-FOUR AND ONE HALF YEARS. What makes you think that God would listen to you and your quick prayer of healing and not my parents?”
But of course, I didn’t say that. I said, “Thank you” because I was at a total loss of words. Well, at a loss of words that I could have said without my voice rising to a fever pitch.
Later, I recounted these three incidents which happened in a span of a few weeks to Professorgrrl and asked her, “Am I looking that bad lately? Have I gotten worse and don’t even realize it?” I mean, I know I’m not improving and healing. The kind of healing that woman prayed for is not going to happen. Healing with a bottle of pills isn’t going to happen either.
How could it? Do some people think I could wake up one morning and be 6″ taller, have all my teeth and a perfectly straight back and legs? If I did wake up like that, I wouldn’t even be me. Being the shortest and “bowleggedest” kid in the school is part of who I am. My world view has been shaped by XLH. Life is not black and white through my eyes. God does not heal or fix children with genetic disorders. God left it to the people to do that. And so far, the people can’t fix this but only a certain amount. If you want to pray for us, pray that we can cope. Pray that we will keep our sense of humor. Pray that we can find doctors and dentists who are interested in taking us on as patients. Pray that we can get health insurance after the Affordable Care Act gets repealed. Pray that the insurance companies will start covering ALL of our medications. Pray that the new drug that is now being tested will help us. Pray that parents will teach their children that it’s wrong to make fun of other children who are different. Pray, pray, pray.
And for those honest, real prayers, I say, “Thank you.” (And that’s a genuine thank you.)
By the way, today is Rare Disease Day. Go hug someone with a rare disease or who is a caregiver of someone with a rare disease.
Copyright S.G. Hunter, 2016