Casual ignorance

A few days ago, this popped up on my Twitter feed:

(For those of you who may not know, “cankles” is a derogatory term that refers to when your calf meets your ankle. If you’ve got lower extremity lymphedema, then you’re probably familiar with this term.)

“If you have kankles, don’t”… don’t what? Why should people that have these so-called cankles be barred from doing anything that those with “normal” ankles are permitted to do? Are we less of a person because our ankles are swollen? Are you going to cross me off your list because I have curly hair, too?

I realize that the above comment was made casually, but that doesn’t make it any less hurtful or embarrassing. It reminded me of all the times I’ve been made fun of for having “cankles,” simply because people didn’t realize that what I had was an actual medical condition. (Although, even if they didn’t know that, they shouldn’t make a comment about something I can’t help!!)

Nobody is perfect; I can be judgmental sometimes, too. However, I make a conscious effort to be empathetic. I think having gone through a lot of difficult issues such as my depression, eating disorder, and lymphedema has taught me that you never know what someone is going through or what their story is. To judge out of context is to shut a door in someone’s face.

Most people, however, are not so empathetic. A quick search of “cankles” on Twitter yielded countless tweets with jokes and degrading comments about cankles and the people who have them. There was even one tweet that went so far as to say, “I can’t stand people with cankles, it makes me sick.”

Well, you know what makes me sick? Ignorance.

4 comments on “Casual ignorance

  1. I’m with you sister, this person has issues. When a person makes fun of another person it means that that person is insecure. Sorry you were cyber-bullied. That was highly inappropriate. I think people can act differently (by different, I mean rude) online. Can you report it?

    As an adult, I don’t hear too many insults, but as a kid I heard it mostly from my disturbed older brother who called me “fat leg.” When I do hear questions that I don’t like the phrasing of, I may get defensive. I guess I’m not as self-conconcious as I was as a kid, but, it doesn’t mean that I’m any less sensitive – I just try not to let things bother me, or I put people in their place.

    • I guess I should make it clear that this wasn’t a personal thing – it was something this person posted on their own Twitter page. However, the sentiment is the same: rude and unprovoked ignorance.

      I find that as I get older, I have come across less insults. By this time, I think, people know a little better than that. Being a kid with a medical condition is another story – it’s brutal. I can’t believe your brother called you that, Rosie! Kids can be so cruel. I got teased in middle school and high school, but, like you, I try not to let it bother me if anyone says anything to me at this age.

  2. The stupid things other people do never ceases to amaze me. You are both strong women and can fend off these offenses with your confidence. But what about those younger lymphedema patients who don’t have the strength to cope with this kind of crap. What happens to them? Where do they go to soothe their broken spriits? Who fixes them and gives them their confidence? That is what really sucks: the stupid ignorant people who say these things have no idea how they can hurt someone for weeks and years, not just in the few seconds it takes to utter a careless word.
    Did you say anything to this Tweeter?

  3. You know what irks me, when trained health care “professionals” say inappropriate things. I had one podiatrist that I had been seeing for about a year or so, call my toes, “sausage toes.” I’m not the most senistive person in the planet that I don’t have a sense of humor, but in hindsight, I’m glad that I found a new podiatrist. It’s a fine line with the jokes.

    One doctor that I saw yesterday for my stomach issues said when I showed him my legs, “I’ve seen Lymphedema before, and that’s nothing. I told him, it’s not nothing. Yes, it’s not severe, but, don’t dismiss my condition as “nothing.” It’s kind of a crass thing to say to a new patient. I think there might be a connection b/t my lymphedema and my GI issues.

    Jim, you definitely have a vaild point and my recommendation to young people with Lymphedema is seek guidance from counselors and take advantage of free or low cost therapy.

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