The Art Of Making An Illness Visible

Joshua's Tattoo Over the weekend, I stumbled across a great story about a young man named Joshua Sandoval who had been diagnosed with an invisible disease in grade school and while he was vigilant about managing his illness, he did not want to talk about it with anyone. Around the 10-year anniversary of his diagnosis, he decided to mark it by getting a tattoo that signified two important aspects of who he is: a writer and a diabetic.

As someone who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, there are a few noteworthy items in his story that I absolutely related to.

Keeping the illness private for a period of time. Check. Having to get used to stabbing myself with a needle. Check. Feeling abnormal. Check.

Joshua’s tattoo is a really amazing way of expressing something that for many years, went unspoken. It’s bold, artistic, and will likely prompt questions from friends and curious onlookers. He is basically inviting strangers to ask him about his diabetes, which is a great way to raise awareness.

For now, this blog is sort of my version of Joshua’s symbolic tattoo. The blog gets me thinking and talking about my arthritis on a more frequent basis. And every time I sit down to write a post, I make progress towards acceptance.

Have you used creative methods to inform your friends and family of your chronic disease? Tells us about it in the comments.

Read Joshua Sandoval’s story here

5 thoughts on “The Art Of Making An Illness Visible

  1. Thanks so much for this post. I have often wished that I could tattoo a representation of my process–not my illnesses, myofascial pain syndrome, recovery from anorexia, anxiety disorders, per se–but a representation of putting that internal pain on the outside… but I keloid too badly to do so!

    This topic is still incredibly important.
    Thank you.

  2. @Gabriele – Thanks for your comment! It feels good to have an outlet and to be committed to raising awareness. I’ve been enjoying your blog, too.

  3. Hey great blog about the tat. i think that is a great expression of one’s life experience and a great way to raise awareness about invisible illness.

    I too suffer from RA and find it interesting how people respond. It is amazing to see the disbelief due to not being able to physically see a disease. It is hard for others to understand because you are walking, talking, and you look “good.” Thanks for sharing your story through the blogging world…it too is my outlet and efforts to raise awareness.

    Gabriele Moore

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