Thursday 11 February 2010

How To Spot A Sick Chicken.

I'm pretty inured to the whole "you don't look sick" line. It all becomes white noise after a while, though I will admit to often thinking, "well you don't look like a knob either", but I generally have enough tact to keep that to myself. Well sometimes. According to my loving family, I occasionally have a bowl of bitchy for breakfast, and my Mother Teresa persona is replaced by a large dose of bitch with a side of cow. Usually, this has something to do with a lack of coffee, and really if you speak to me pre-caffeine that's your own fault.

[Image: A Vintage image of a woman holding a cup of coffee. To the right of frame in black text it reads: I haven't had my coffee yet. Followed by red text which reads: Don't make me kill you.]

In many respects, I'm over what other people think. I have enough on my plate without taking on other people's issues. But recently my happy-hippy, zenness slipped. A few weeks ago I was informed by a relative who shall remain nameless (but we both know who you are and you should know better than to piss off a person with a blog) that, "You can't expect sympathy with that face".

For some reason, the bluntness of this statement hit me like a full on sucker punch to the gut. I was lost for words and just stood there with my mouth hanging open. What was I supposed to say to that? Would I have been within my rights to pick up the coffee pot and send it flying across the room at their head? Was it okay that I had a whole montage of Looney Tunes-inspired cartoons going through my head? Think lots of anvils and frying pans.

The whole idea that I was asking for sympathy was like nails on a chalkboard. I'm pretty sure the effort involved in holding my tongue, and coffee pot, did leave me with an odd twitch and a vein pulsating out the front of my forehead. But other than that I was cool as a cucumber.

Anyone who has ever read my blog or spoken to me for more than 3.2 seconds knows how I feel about the whole pity issue. I HATE pity, it sucks out your soul like a big hairy-arsed incubus (or succubus for those of you of the male persuasion). It is disempowering and frames you as a victim. If you are going to give me pity then you might as well just give me a chilli enema or poke me in the eye with that bastard offspring of a fork and spoon, the spork, and why don't you make it rusty while you're at it. To you and your pity, I say a big fat Bite Me!

Now, this isn't to say that I don't hold my own private pity parties every now and then. But its a very exclusive invite list of one, and may involve chocolate, hiding under my blankies and watching bad sci-fi or horror shows (yes I know the geek alert just went off, but until you've watched a shockingly bad sci-fi or horror show you don't know what you've been missing. If you haven't seen The Blob circa 1988 you haven't lived. The horror of Kevin Dillon's (Entourage) hair alone, is worth the effort of tracking it down). My pity parties are all infected with the Cinderella effect, so they are short-lived. After a couple of hours, I wipe the snot off my face, pick up the mounds of soggy tissues and chocolate wrappers, suck it up and move on.

[Image: a coloured still from the movie The Blob (1988). It shows a white man with glorious 80's curly long hair and a leather jacket to the left of the frame, he looks shocked. To the right a white woman with dark hair and wearing a cream top holds onto Matt Dillon looking scared.]

So in case, I haven't been clear:


So once again I am forced to revisit the question of "what does sick look like"?

If I am sick should I look like this?

[Image: a movie still from The Exorcist (1973). A close up of Linda Blairs face after her demonic possession, pale, scary, horror]

(The Exorcist is one of my all-time favourite movies. So happy when Linda Blair was on my favourite horror eye-candy show Supernatural).

Would I then appear legitimately sick? Currently the most I get is a "gee you look tired". Mind you some mornings when Bob is beating the crap out of me I would be grateful to look as well as young Linda. Problem is when I do look sick, I am usually too ill to go out in public. Conversely, if I'm out I'm feeling 'better', by which I mean instead of death warmed up, I feel like that little bit of goop you get in the corner of your eye in the morning, I look okay. I've most likely brushed my hair and put on some BO Basher, no guarantee of the dreaded shower or clean clothes but there's nothing a few squirts of Chanel No. 5 can't cover.

Not looking sick enough can create many problems. Recently a friend sent me a link about a woman who lost her health benefits because she appeared too happy in her FB pictures and therefore was deemed to no longer have Severe Depression. Damn that brain-fogged woman for trying to break through her depression to attempt some sort of life instead of succumbing to the expected levels of overwhelming hopelessness. It's a miracle. One smiley day and Depression is cured. Maybe I should burn all the pictures of me standing up and wear a disguise when I manage to go grocery shopping? Obviously, the trolley of milk and Green & Blacks mean I'm cured, just ignore the puke bag and salt sachets sticking out the top of my handbag.

Damn those invisible illnesses. I couldn't get a good illness where I look like crap, no I'm such a loser I picked dysautonomia. Way to go Michelle!

Now I did think about getting "SICK" tattooed on my forehead, but I am a wuss. I can't even pluck a rogue eyebrow hair or take off a band-aid without screeching like someone is cutting off my leg. So the tattoo plan has gone out the window. I think I need to accessorise. I'm sure that just like the right accessories can make an outfit, the right sick accessories will enable people to easily pick me for the sickie I am.

So what kind of accessories do I need to purchase and where do I get them? Is there an e-store called Sickies R' Us? Do Maybelline or Napoleon put out a line of anti-bronzers to give you the pasty sick tint? Where to start? I decided I'd google "What does sick look like?", in hopes of finding an answer to my problem. Alas, there was no answer to my question. I could find out what a sick fish looks like, or a hamster, but no answer for a sick 36-year-old woman. Just when I had given up hope I had an Oprah light bulb moment. A ray of sunlight fell upon my computer screen and I found the answer in the form of the humble chicken.

What does a sick chicken look like?

  • A sick hen will usually be listless, not moving around much.
  • They often sit quietly with eyes shut or partly closed.
  • They may move slowly and possibly stagger or lose balance when walking.
  • They do not run away when approached, they often just drop down into a crouch and wait to be picked up.
  • They may have mucus around the eyes and beak.
  • The vent area is often crusted and dirty (ok I did giggle at this one).
Thank you Wiki Answers, once more you have saved my life.

So there you go chicken/human its all a bit the same. Your hen may look pretty on the outside, sexy feathers and all, but look a bit closer and she is just not quite right.

[Image: a black and white cartoon of a chicken sitting in bed with a tray and bowl in from of them. Next to bed, another chicken wearing an apron stands. The text underneath reads: Quit complaining. For one thing, chicken soup is good for a cold. For another, it's nobody we know.]

So if next time you see me and my vent is a bit crusty, you will know with complete certainty that I am sick.

The clucked off Michelle :)


  1. Ok, when I saw the picture of Linda Blair, I identified with her imediately. She looks how I feel. No-one wants to look like crap, but it is kind of irritatating when someone who knows your sick tells you you look great when you feel like crap! Great job Michelle!

  2. Honestly, who do you think you are, being sick but not LOOKING sick? Don't you know the RULES? If you're sick you damn well make the effort to look like you slept in a hedge and applied your make up with a back hoe. Can you at least look unwashed and drool on everyone you meet, for appearances? The audacity of you appearing NORMAL.

    WTF? Some people just don't have a tact filter I guess.

  3. You've made me laugh... because of familiarity... I, too, hate the comment of "you don't look sick"... I normally say that they don't look like either an idiot or a doctor (depends on my mood and how well I know the person). I have a deep sadistic wish that they would experience just a few moments of how I feel. I guarentee that that would stop some of the comments!

  4. Rusty Hoe, (I must use this name because it rocks.)

    STANDING OVATION from the house!!!!!!!!!!!! BRAVO!!!!! Whistles, applause, and shouts of "right on!"

    .....but then of course I had to read it in my nastiest PJ's, no makeup, and an 8 year old scrunchy for folks to think I understood this brilliant and amazing writing.

    And Veggy Assasin, I totally laughed out loud. Funny and spot on. I'm not British, but I love to say "spot on." I have no clue why. Must be my illness.

  5. Once again you've hit a topic head-on like I've had to deal with! I just tell them to ask Eric what a bad day looks like, what a good day looks like, and what a better day looks like. Usually it's my better days they see me, but my jeans cover the ugly purple legs and my socks and tennis shoes cover the bulging veins and purple color in my feet, a little make up covers the uglyness from no sleep and dealing with feeling like There are alot of things you can do to "look" better, but nothing changes the fact that our insides are kicking our behinds, and we'll pay for it when we return back to our caves and recliner... at least it feels like a cave when you aren't able to leave it for days on end! So well said yet again! Just love your blogs!

  6. excellent post, you feel like you occupy my brain. everything you write rings true. now when i get the 'you look well' comment, i smile and say thank you. i havent the energy or quick thinking for anything else.x

  7. I'm great at looking sick when I'm not. I just leave off my make up. EEEK!

    People suck. You should punch them in the genitals.

  8. Michele - Maybe we can all by Linda Blair Masks to wear when we go to buy our milk.

    Veg - I know I'm ashamed of my own audacity. I will take myself out back for a bit of the old self-flagellation right now. I will endeavour to up my drooling from now on.

    Erika - We all have those moments. I really want some people to have to experience something so they shut the hell up. I always envisioned something like haemorrhoids the size of exercise balls as a fitting illness.

    Lucy - Okay I'll British you out with a Jolly good show old chap!

    Miranda - Maybe we should stroll around stark naked so they can see us in all our purple glory. Well maybe not as I fear I may have a Medusa effect and turn people to stone left, right and centre with my hideous bod.

    Em - didn't you know I actually reside in your head. All that banging isn't a headache it's me dancing to Europe's 'The Final Count Down'.

    OWO - Genital whacking is the best remedy for many many situations.

  9. Just brilliant post. I have Ehlers Danlos and wonder if I wore my dodgy collagen on the outside instead of in it would help people realise I spend my life in sheer agony.

    This post is sheer brilliance, you describe exactly how it feels to live with an invisible disabiliy.
    The days I manage to get outside are 'pretend' days where I imagine I am well!

    Is there an award out there in blogging land this post could get. you deserve it.

    Oh yes.. you have my empathy but never ever my pity.

  10. Achelois - thanks so much. I don't know if they have awards for the Best Insane Sick Person with a Bad Attitude but I think I may get that one. Maybe we should ask Trinny & Susannah to come and deck us out in an ultra hip sick outfit so everyone would know. I'm guessing old stained pjs would have to be on the list. I'm sending my empathy right back at you.

  11. Great post Michelle - I loved the bit about the private pity parties.

    I've thrown so many of those I could go into event management. Of course, they'd be very strange events...involving lots of ice-cream, pyjamas, and more ice-cream.

    Love the new motif you've got down the sides of your page, I'm into damask in a big way.

  12. Emma - I think there is a pj theme here. You can't have a PPP without the comfy pjs. I'm a damask girl myself. I love the texture and the patterning. A little bit of classic luxury.

  13. Oh my goodness. I'm so with you. What is sick supposed to look like.
    I went to the doc today for a follow-up. He asked how I was doing and I said as well as could be expected. "Well, you look fine to me!"
    Gee, Doc was that a pass or a statement of my health?
    If he wasn't actually a good doctor, I'd do as a previous commenter suggested and contrive a "junk punch."

    Have some caffeine and watch a movie, that's what I'm going to do today!

  14. Grumblebot - yep I think I might call it 'The Junk Solution' from now on. I think it could work in most areas of life. Nothing like a doc with a bedside manner. I must admit you can put up with a lot if they are good but I'm thinking if he starts to get dodgy then its time for The Junk Solution to come into play.

  15. Thank you, thank you thank you! You have helped put words on a concept that has alluded me- what sick looks like. I think this post might be right up there with spoon theory in that it is a truth we all with chronic invisible illness deal with and have a very hard time describing to others. Pretty soon, along with spoonie quotes and key chains with spoons, we'll also all be wearing t shirts with sick chickens on them to raise awareness! ;)

  16. You are one sick chick!

  17. By the way, I adore you!
    Carrie from Just Mildly Medicated

  18. OMG - I adore this post. The fact I have birds as pets (and simply adore chickens, crusty vents and all) made this all the more enjoyable!

  19. OMG - I adore this post. The fact I have birds as pets (and simply adore chickens, crusty vents and all) made this all the more enjoyable!

  20. always get it right!!! Loved this post....


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