Monday, August 18, 2008

The Olympic Dream That Will Never Be

Okay, so I’m going to admit right off the bat that this was kind of a cheap trick to suck you into this post because of the title.

Because my friends that are reading this are probably thinking, what Olympic dream? This girl’s athletic?

But seriously, this post does have to do with the Olympics. Just… not in the way you may think. As I’ve been watching the Olympics over the past week and a half, I’ve been stuck wondering why it is that we only really want the things that we can’t have?

Yes, I’ve gotten caught up in Michael Phelps mania. I’m allowed… I can say that we went to the same school. I’ve also heard so many times that Dara Torres is 41 years old. If they mention her age again, I might just punch my TV. Although the way my hand looks from my blood draw last week, you’d think I already have.

But aside from all that, I’ve also gotten caught up in the fact that with all of the wonderful, inspiring stories of the games, there isn’t a single one of someone that involves chronic illness. I mean, there are a few stories of people who have or had cancer, but you don’t hear stories about someone with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis competing at this year’s Olympic games.

Why? Well, based on the way I’ve felt lately, I’m not sure it’s humanly possible. But apparently there are Olympic athletes currently competing that have such chronic ailments as diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome. But these aren’t, ironically, the stories you hear about. And it’s funny. This year’s Olympics aren’t a “science free” event. There has been plenty of talk about steroids, gene doping, and air quality issues.

And I know, these stellar athletes aren’t immune to disease, and many of them will fall prey to them eventually. I also know that in the back of my mind, I can’t help thinking that the wear and tear they are forcing on their bodies now, they will likely be paying for later.

But it is frustrating that, in an event that is termed, “One World, One Dream,” I certainly don’t feel like I have any part in that. And I am sure there are many of you out there who have watched with a mix of wonder, awe, and sadness.

You know, before I got sick, I couldn’t really care less about whether I was any kind of caliber of athlete. It just wasn’t something that was all that important to me. But now, now that there’s never going to be a chance that I will be a stellar athlete, it is kind of disappointing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Being a good athlete isn’t everything (although it just might be in American society and would help explain my friends' ever-annoying obsession with working out). But chronically ill people are doing amazing things everyday. We are fighting for recognition of things that very few other people care about or feel they have a stake in. And where is the recognition for that?


  1. You know, I used to be very athletic - participated on (to some degree of success) tennis, basketball, softball and volleyball teams as a youth/teen/adult. I cycled for years because I didn't have the money for a car during my twenties averaging 30 miles a day all around Portland. I went on touring trips including the San Juan Islands. I walked everywhere I couldn't ride my bike.

    I have lupus in spite of it all - and feel stronger today than I ever did during my sports years.

    Great idea you have with the logo -I feel inspired!

  2. Marijke over at Help My Hurt ( has been following Olympic cyclist Kristin Armstrong, who has osteoarthritis. Not the same as RA, I know, and there's been little (no) coverage of it in the mainstream media.

    I've been thinking about doing an Olympics-themed post myself. Great topic!

    Be well,

  3. I do try to keep up with Help My Hurt, but there are so many posts. I definitely missed the Armstrong ones. I'm glad others in the chronic illness community think this an important topic. I wonder, other than blogging about it, what we can do?