Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Strategies and alternatives for coping with fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder and other chronic illnesses

Blowing Your Nose Is Not Ladylike, and Other Truths of Chronic Illness

Posted by wendyburnett on April 27, 2010

ChronicBabe is hosting Grand Rounds this week, and they’ve chosen the topic “ladylike.” This post isn’t going to make the deadline (I worked so many hours last week it was all I could do to keep us fed,) so it won’t be in the carnival, but I found the topic interesting, so I decided to write it anyway.

I guess I should probably start with a confession. . . If you used the word “ladylike” to describe me around my friends, they’d most likely laugh in your face. I was a tomboy growing up, and I never really “got” the whole ladylike thing. It just seemed way too restrictive to me, what with all the rules about what ladies couldn’t do.

My ex tried to turn me into a lady, and I learned to fake it pretty well, but it just never took. As soon as I left him I went back to cursing like a sailor and smoking like a chimney, talking too loud, being too animated, expressing my own opinions, striding too freely, and just plain being myself. I can still fake it when I need to, but I try to avoid situations that make it necessary. Now, I have to admit, I do enjoy dressing up in hose and heels every now and then, with the nice makeup and clothes, but my chronic illnesses have made that nearly impossible.

Ladies wear nice shoes, preferably with heels. — Nope, not possible – the only shoes with closed toes I’ve found that don’t hurt my feet are combat boots and Crocs. Neither one comes even close to qualifying as ladylike. Oh, and if you expect me to wear something with a heel on it, DON’T expect me to walk, it hurts too much.

Ladies wear hose. — Well, if surgical stockings count . . .

Ladies wear makeup. — Now this one, I can sort of manage. I can deal with lipstick and powder, just don’t expect me to use any kind of eye makeup. I haven’t found a single brand of mascara that doesn’t make my eyes itch and burn, and shadow is almost as bad.

Ladies keep their hair nicely styled. — Most days, I’m lucky if I can manage to get my arms up there to BRUSH my hair, let alone style it. I wear it long, and mostly in a ponytail because it keeps falling out and at least in a ponytail it doesn’t end up in the food when I cook.

Ladies wear nice clothes. — Ummm, I don’t OWN any nice clothes (anymore.) I have one pair of pants that actually fits (well, sort of) and some t-shirts and sweaters. At home, I mostly run around in a t-shirt, underwear, and flip-flops; unless someone comes over or it’s cold. For company, I’ll throw on a pair of shorts or sweatpants, depending on the weather. Work is easy . . . black leather athletic shoes, pants, uniform shirt, tacky hairnet, and paper apron. (Oh, I almost forgot, ladies also wear a bra. I own ONE. I wear it to work, and sometimes if we’re going “out.” Other than that, I don’t bother; it’s too uncomfortable, it hurts too much to put it on, and it hurts even more trying to get it off again.)

Ladies keep their nails done. — Welllllllllllll. In the last 4 years the stress levels have been so high that I’ve started chewing my nails again. Not much point in putting on polish when it’s likely to be messed up within hours.

Ladies smell nice. — Does smelling like Bengay count as smelling nice? (Okay, I usually do smell pretty decent, the pain rubs I use are made from things like olive oil and essential oils, which smell pretty good if you’re careful which oils you blend.)

And we haven’t even touched on what ladies DON’T do; like making rude noises. (Passing gas, burping, and blowing your nose are definitely out. But with all the things that go along with fibro, CFS, allergies, digestive issues, etc.; those noises happen on a pretty regular basis.)

Then, of course, it’s not very ladylike to curse, but sometimes, with the pain levels, exhaustion, and everything else; cursing is the only outlet you have.

Hobbling isn’t very ladylike either, but sometimes there’s no other option; hip pain, knee pain, ankle pain, foot pain; and let’s not even THINK about the leg cramps, electrical shocky pains and the feeling that the ground is vibrating under your feet.

All in all, at least for me, chronic illness and ladylike just don’t work together, except on rare occasions when I’m strong enough to put in the effort. It’s not very high on my priority list when there are so many other, more important things to spend my energy on, like trying to keep my home reasonably clean and do what needs to be done to minimize my symptoms as much as possible.

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5 Responses to “Blowing Your Nose Is Not Ladylike, and Other Truths of Chronic Illness”

  1. Annie said

    This was a great post 🙂

    • Thanks Annie . . . I wanted to give folks who DON’T live with chronic illness a bit of an idea what it’s like, and I figured most of the people who DO deal with it every day would recognize bits of their own lives in there. LOL

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wendy Burnett, Dunnea Rae and Dunnea Rae, Jayleen Hartman. Jayleen Hartman said: Blowing Your Nose Is Not Ladylike, and Other Truths of Chronic …: As soon as I left him I went back to cursing l… […]

  3. maureen said

    You made me smile when I read this post…for that I thank you! I’m not a girly girl either. And I do all those things you mentioned are not lady-like. I am a red-headed Irish girl…I can curse with the best of them!

    • Maureen,

      You’re welcome for the smile. People always tell me I should have been a red-head, since I have the skin, the eyes, AND the temper. Dunno why the hair came out brown . . . (Scots, Irish, and Brit on my mom’s side, I guess I must have gotten the hair from daddy’s Russian family.)

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