But You Look so Good

Somebody actually said that to me the other day. It had been years. What did you expect, I silently asked, a cadaver? People mean well, but what they actually are saying is, you cannot possibly be sick. Please donโ€™t be sick. That makes me uncomfortable. Our long ago Irish babysitter over heard someone say that to me once. She suggested I reply, โ€œItโ€™s not me face that is sick, stupid.โ€ I told her that others would misunderstand and believe I am kidding.
This time, I have a different thought. I do not care anymore. We have gone back and forth, comparing notes on how insensitive or rude others can be. I just do not care. Really. I have spent too much psychic energy and time reacting to others. Who cares what they say? We never are going to win that one, anyway.
Walking or riding around in an agitated states lets them win. Ignoring those who do not get it or care to strikes me as a much more reasoned way to live. I would rather save my anger for others, those who fail me big time. The New York Yankees, for example, or the guy at the local liquor store who routinely runs out of Bombay Sapphire. For them, forgiveness does not come easy.
I was even going to stop paying heed to the chronically healthy, but I enjoy baiting my physician friend who never tires of reacting to the term.

34 Responses to But You Look so Good

  1. Dale April 17, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Jeters gone. Get over it.

    But the Bombay Sapphire? An entirely different matter altogether. You might have to switch to Tangueray as a backup.

    Bacardi (backup to Captain Morgan) also needs to remember to pick up their rum production prior to September 19th this year. And I’m sure everyone can’t help telling you how good you look as a pirate on that day.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

      I’ll take the gin.


  2. michael April 17, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Many people in our life will not be satisfied until Cheryl is in a wheelchair, as if that proves true disability. Used to drive me crazy, thinking how others perceived us. Then I realized that what truly matters is how we perceive them. It’s our life.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 17, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

      Amen to that.


  3. lindsey April 17, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    I wish that I could also just ignore the comments…sometimes it is out of the goodness of people’s hearts, but a lot of the time I believe it is just their curiosity that makes them ask…I get asked constantly how did I hurt myself must be a soccer injury int the summer months and a skiing injury in the winter. They want to know when I will get better from my “injury” I try to take a deep breath and educate people about MS as maybe then I will be doing some good…however, what I really want to tell strangers on the elevator who ask that it was simply just a quidditch injury from falling off my broom ๐Ÿ˜‰ I try not to let the comments or questions bother me, but it is hard to be constantly questioned about something you want to forget you have sometimes…

    • Dale April 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      “Nerve damage” is always a favorite and entirely accurate response. But Quidditch? Brilliant. Seriously.

      • lindsey April 17, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

        I like nerve damage thank you! I am glad you like my harry potter humor ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Richard M. Cohen April 17, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

      For years I said I had a bad leg, hich seem to satisfy most.


      • lindsey April 17, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

        Thanks! Most of the time I try to shrug the comments off and say I am fine, but that answer isn’t always enough for some people. I think I will use nerve damage and/or that I have a bad leg. Thanks for the suggestions. I look like a “healthy” 30 year old to most until I start walking…no poker face then

    • Anne April 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

      Lindsey, you made me laugh, I’ll have to remember that line.

  4. Yvonne April 17, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    One of my responses to the “you look well” comment is “I lost the health lottery but my consolation prize was looking good despite it all” and then I smile and walk,hobble or roll away (depending on day) to avoid questions.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 17, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

      How about bug off, substituting any word you choose for bug.


  5. Dale April 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Works for me. But never forget SNL, ” You look mahvelous, dahling, simply mahvelous. It is better to look good than to feel good.” Ricardo always looked good, even as Billy Chrystal.

    Now about that wooden leg…..

  6. Em April 17, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    “But, you look so good!”
    “Why yes he does. Fortunately, his good looks aren’t affected by this terrible disease.”

    Someday I just might have the nerve to say this to some well-meaning person/friend/relative who just doesn’t “get it”. Until then, I will grin and bear it and kindly agree. If they only knew what my sweet husband was going through… Then, they would have a right to be uncomfortable!

    Thanks to all, especially Richard, who give advice, share experiences, and add a little humor to our lives. I read this blog daily for these things.

  7. Joan Z April 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    I love seeing a new topic when I look in, this one is a real treat. My answer to the wheelchair question, “Ass Gravity”. What a humorous bunch you all are, thanks for expanding my repertoire!

    • Yvonne April 18, 2015 at 9:23 am #

      Now that response Joan Z is hysterical and should shut the person down as they try to figure it out:-)

  8. josie April 17, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    So many of us, like Richard, have battled (or are battling) more than one difficult battle. I feel each of my battles have significantly changed me for the better (once I crawl my way through despair, unutterable sadness and self pity). I am certain I am a different person than I would have been not having had the experiences. I think I am kinder, more compassionate and caring. My view of life is filtered differently. As terrible as it is, when I interface with the chronically healthy, I sometimes, somehow, feel luckier than they. They have not had the opportunity to view the colors of life from the depths of chasms and I gloat in my own small way… of my superiority (does that nullify the “kinder, more compassionate and caring”?). Although probably entirely wrong, it is my way of getting through the “But you look so good”, because if I don’t…. I feel completely and utterly lost.

    • Richard M. Cohen April 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

      I look at it this way. If it were not so debilitating, MS would be pretty interesting.


      • Dale April 17, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

        It’s a wiring issue pure and simple. But most of the best licensed neurological electricians out there pretty much suck at fixing anything. At least for now

        Folks that haven’t a clue what myelin is can get that.

        My true friends don’t say much when I look good but they don’t hesitate to tell me when I look like shit.

        “Ass Gravity” definitely tops ‘Grin and Ignore It’ as my motto du jour today. Bwahahaha.

  9. Rob M April 17, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    You nailed it when you said “Who cares what they say? We never are going to win that one, anyway.” I would add who cares what they think to that too. In my stronger moments those questions/statements about how I look don’t bother me. I my weaker moments I remind myself that self pity doesn’t get me anywhere. Ass gravity is a keeper.
    MS is interesting, it sucks, but it’s interesting. If cancer is the emperor of all maladies MS is the court jester because it turns you into a slapstick machine by making you drop things, or trip, or run to the bathroom quickly.

    • rmcjourneyman@gmail.com April 17, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

      I never think of myself as the court jester. Meredith probably does.


      • Dale April 17, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

        I always wondered if Meredith reads any of this for grins. And wonders about the company you’re keeping lately. Ass Gravity and all…

    • Melissa May 3, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      Almost funny if it weren’t so pathetic!! I love going to the bathroom, then in the middle of washing my hands needing to go again…like I never went in the first place!!

  10. MB April 17, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    Regardless of how “good” I look, my eyes reveal my struggle. I guess that’s why they’re referred to as the windows to the soul.

  11. Christopher April 18, 2015 at 11:59 am #


    I would like to add something as ‘just something to consider’ on this subject. Humans are social creatures, and that’s been proven over a millenia by many great thinkers. We are all actually hardwired to do and say things that are community related even though we may not be immediately aware of it. Noticing things that are different is the obvious evolutionary trait–a sociological version of the game Which One Doesn’t Belong. But what isn’t so obvious is the reason why we get upset about what others say. Even though we learn as kids about “sticks and stones…” we are still hardwired to be a functioning part of a larger whole. When we are operating sufficiently, then there isn’t much friction and we usually don’t feel out of place. But when we are not doing well, we show it and others notice this. Most of it all happens without much, or any, thought. People will say things that seem ridiculous on the surface, but most of it is coming from a place that isn’t logical… it’s autonomic. Yes, it takes some thinking to realize that how someone “looks” isn’t always related to how they are physiologically. But the same is true for how it is so difficult NOT to care what people say. It takes energy and time to teach yourself not to care what people say. You are actually fighting an evolutionary behavior we all have built in that constantly tells us we are all just cogs, but that each cog’s functioning is vital to the whole. The emotions you feel when people say dumb things are those innate circuits just reminding you that at your core you’re still a cave-person, and you still have some work to do to elevate yourself from old habits.

    • rmcjourneyman@gmail.com April 20, 2015 at 8:55 am #

      It seems to me the hard work is in caring. Once I crossed the river and learned to tune dissonant voices out, it became seciond nature. Piece of cake when you are ready.


  12. maureen April 19, 2015 at 2:03 am #

    doctors and nurses do it. i think they should read one or two sentences about m.s. before they come into the room i’m in. or wear a football helmet when they talk to me, cuz i’m really getting sick of it.

    • rmcjourneyman@gmail.com April 20, 2015 at 8:57 am #

      Dump them.


  13. Johanna April 19, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    So —

    How should a healthy person greet/talk to a person with MS, and he/she knows the person has MS? Omit any reference to health and/or appearance?

    Is it considered bad manners to tell someone that they look good, when they do look good, even though that person has MS?

    Asked in good faith, and with humility.

    • maureen April 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      this isn’t about saying to someone who is dressed up that they look nice. what if you told a friend that your mother had died and they said: but you look so good! it could be true, but it’s not overly relevant.

    • rmcjourneyman@gmail.com April 20, 2015 at 8:59 am #

      Why would you feel compelled to say anything relating to health? Just talk to us as normal human beings. Easy.


  14. michael April 19, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    A casual greeting between acquaintances should be little more than “looking good Winthrop! ” ” Feeling good Bob, you as well!” But when you ask a person “how are you,?” and they reply honestly, in the case of a person with MS most likely with a list of horrific life altering and heartbreaking limitations that people with good health, or even more frustrating people with curable conditions it would be astonishing and welcome to hear something like “thank you for sharing honestly, I cannot begin to imagine how frustrating it must be, you look even more amazing considering all you endure.”

    It’s all in the context. There is no universally right way to communicate with another human being. Words are mighty, how you use them in different situations is what matters.

    • rmcjourneyman@gmail.com April 20, 2015 at 9:01 am #

      How are you? is insincere. God forbid you answer the question.


  15. Jan April 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    Here’s a funny one for you… I was tongue-in-cheek referred to as a dented Jaguar… which, when I think about it, beats the rusty Edsel that I can feel like!