Heather Lee Dyer
Invisible Disability


Unseen illness.
Handful of prescriptions spaced just right.
    The pain is worse than usual this morning.
On the outside it doesn’t look like
    There is anything wrong with me,
And then the brain fog only interrupts
    My day
        Every now and then.

Unseen pain.

But a few sit and judge, grumbling about “sick days”
    And special lighting.
At work they do not see all I have accomplished
    Even before
        I arrive at my desk!
The daily struggle
To just get out of bed,
    Stand in the shower… wash my hair,
        Remember the first round of
            Meds for the day.
Slowly with effort I get dressed.

Do I have to wear socks today?

My joints are aflame,
    My muscles rebel!
But what an accomplishment!
Time for work!
Such simple tasks, but not such
A small feat for me!

Concentrate! Concentrate!

Others dream and strive for
    Promotions, recognition, power.
But I,
Aspire to make the daily tasks
    Look easy,
        Do well at my job,
            Hide the struggle within, and appear

Unseen illness.
Lupus survivor!


About Heather Lee...

Heather currently works as a Secretary/Receptionist for the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections. She has always had an interest in law enforcement and worked previously for the Idaho State Police as a Dispatcher. It was during this job that she began noticing that her Lupus was causing significant problems at work. She worked with her employer to find another job better suited to these new limitations. Her poem “Invisible Disability” addresses the challenges that some people face in dealing with physical and neurological effects of an illness and how important a job is to sustaining independence and self-confidence.  Heather is a married mother of two high school age sons and lives outside of Boise, ID.


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