As you know, I am obsessed with the entire Real Housewives franchise because I am shallow and have a lot of time on my hands. However, it must be pointed out that the sociology of the Real Housewives is très interesting. Whether you know it or not or even want to admit it, watching the Housewives is a study in social anthropology. It’s like watching wild animals in their natural habitat.
For whatever reason, the filming of the Housewives brings out the worst in its characters. The seven deadly sins are fully represented every week… Gluttony, pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath and sloth. However, last week a whole new sin was introduced… Stupidity. This 8th cardinal sin was brought to us by none other than Lady Lips herself, Lisa Rinna.
Let me set the stage and get you up to speed in case you missed last week’s episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. My friend, Yolanda Hadid, one of the housewives, has neurological Lyme disease. It is a mysterious disease, difficult to diagnose and so far, impossible to cure. But it’s got another little special side effect… With Lyme disease, you don’t actually LOOK sick. Nothing about Lyme disease screams, “Look at my Lyme disease!” So, our dear Lisa Rinna had the nerve/gall/balls/ignorance to accuse Yolanda of faking her illness and even went so far as to accuse her of having Munchhausen Syndrome which, by the way, Lisa had to Google.
Now, I know I should just let this go and not let it bother me… But it does and if you know me, I’m going to talk about it. Who am I to talk about it? I am two things: I am Yolanda’s friend and I also happen to be sick, very sick, actually the sickest so I know what I’m talking about.
June 2011. I called Yolanda exactly 20 minutes after I was diagnosed with ALS. Her response was, “Don’t worry, we will go through this together.” She didn’t question me, she didn’t question my diagnosis, she didn’t Google Munchhausen syndrome. She was just plain and simple… There for me.
2012 or so, Yolanda got sick but she didn’t tell me. She didn’t want anything, including her illness, to diminish or take away attention from my ALS if you can understand that. I would call her every other day and she would ask how I was and I would tell her what was going on with me that day… I fell, I can’t lift my arms up, I can’t breathe very well, I can barely swallow, I have anxiety… Blah blah blah. I would ask her how she was and she would answer, “I’m fine.” I didn’t know that she actually wasn’t fine. Her Lyme disease was tearing her apart but she never told me. She suffered in silence. She always put me first. Never complained to me once. Is that Munchhausen, Lisa?
By the second year of her illness, I realized that she was very, very sick and a whole new side of our friendship developed. We could commiserate, in private. We talked doctors, treatments, Eastern and Western medicine, stem cells, hyperbaric chambers, blood transfusions, supplements, oxygen therapy, surgeries, clinics, researchers, fundraisers… You name it, we discussed it, but only amongst ourselves. It wasn’t until later that we both became more vocal about our illnesses. I did because I have no boundaries or filters. Yolanda did to help others, to be their voice.
Sometimes neither of us would leave our houses for weeks and we understood that it was okay. We have taken a backseat to the world right now. We both talked about how we felt like flies on the wall watching life go by us. I physically was paralyzed and Yolanda was mentally paralyzed. We joke that we should morph our two bodies, mine mentally and Yolanda’s physically, and then we would be a whole person again.
We watched our children become more independent because they had to because on a certain level we couldn’t be the mothers that we once were. We physically and mentally couldn’t be. This is the most difficult challenge of being sick. I didn’t get to take Gracie to her first day of college. Yolanda didn’t get to go to Gigi and Bella’s Tom Ford fashion show or drive Anwar to school. We didn’t get to be there when our children needed us, when they needed our support. We didn’t get to bask in our children’s glory quite frankly, and trust me, we live for that shit. Is that sick enough for you, Lisa?
We haven’t been able to be the wives that we wanted to be to our husbands. My David hasn’t ever had a wife who could stand up. My David hasn’t seen me in high heels since 2010. My David hasn’t had a life outside of caring for me 24 hours a day since 2011. Yolanda’s David only saw her healthy one year of their marriage, if that. Yolanda used to go with her David to every event, concert or fundraiser that he was performing at. That all stopped and David lost his partner. My David lost his partner as well. Yolanda and I just physically and mentally couldn’t do it anymore. Do you think that we wanted this to happen? Is that sick enough for you, Lisa?
And this brings me to my beef with Lady Lips, Lisa Rinna. What is sick supposed to look like, Lisa? Just because you cannot see something, does that mean it is not there? If you accuse Yolanda of not looking sick, you might as well accuse me of not being sick as well. I went to Italy last week to a farmers market, does that mean I’m not sick? Yolanda went on a gondola ride in Aspen yesterday, does that mean she’s not sick? Look a little deeper, Lisa… While I was at the farmers market in Italy, I couldn’t taste the samples of Parmesan cheese because my throat won’t let me swallow from years of ALS. While Yolanda was in Aspen, she couldn’t go skiing because she was physically exhausted from years of Lyme disease. But you didn’t see this because you didn’t look deep enough. What is sick supposed to look like, Lisa? Lift up my shirt and you will see a feeding tube and a diaphragm pacer inserted under my skin. Lift up Yolanda’s shirt and you will see scars from having her implants removed and a scar from her antibiotic port. Is this sick enough for you, Lisa?
I can’t walk. Yolanda can’t drive. I cannot breathe on my own. Yolanda can’t stay awake more than two hours at a time. How many buckets of tears must we shed for you to deem us sick, Lisa? Yes, Yolanda is still gorgeous, and I am sorry if this is confusing you but guess what? She is sick. No, Lisa, she doesn’t want to be sick. She doesn’t want the attention. She wants to be well. She doesn’t want to struggle. She doesn’t want her life to be watched from the sidelines. She doesn’t want to miss out on her children and their lives. She never wanted to disappoint her husband. She never wanted to disappoint her friends. She never wanted you to judge her.
So next time you decide to form your little witch’s circle and cackle at the fact that you think someone is not sick just because you don’t see it, think again.
I hope I have clarified things for you. I will patiently await your apology towards Yolanda and on behalf of everyone who is sick but doesn’t look sick, according to you. I accept apologies in the form of gifts especially Cire Trudon candles.
Yolanda is much more polite than I am and she only mentioned that some people (you) do not understand long-term illnesses. I am not that polite and I will just say… See you next Tuesday.