December 4, 2005

My wristband would raise awareness for a dire situation: mine. It would sanction wallowing.

I'm drinking a lot of water lately. But no matter how much I drink, it doesn't help. I called my doctor and said: "I can't get enough water. I'm worried. It could be diabetes." "You don't have diabetes," he said. "You're thirsty." Shouldn't he test me? I told him: "I'm drinking all the time and I'm peeing all the time!" He said I'd be fine, then he hung up. What does he know?

I didn't have the chance to mention the spot on my lower back that's itched for the first time ever and has turned dark brown. It may be a melanoma! "Are you sure it isn't just a freckle?" my friend Liza asked. We were out to dinner. Sitting next to us was a man wearing an orange rubber wristband.

I wondered what it was for. "Whatever it is," Liza said, "I deserve it more. How about a support bracelet for being 38, single and alone?"

There's a reason why there isn't a Single and Alone wristband. Nobody would wear it. I leant over and interrupted the guy's dinner. "Excuse me, what's the orange wristband for?" Leukaemia. Okay, we felt bad after that.

There are rubber wristbands in every colour, all over the world. It can get confusing. In America, a blue band is in support of ovarian cancer. But in the UK it has the words "beat bullying" on it. I thought it was a statement to stop bullying people with ovarian cancer. Then I discovered it was a separate cause. Lately, it seems a lot of people are wearing what goes best with their outfit. I saw a woman with half a dozen wristbands on her arm.

How does she know where to concentrate her support? How does she know what to wear with them? And if you wear the wristband every day, it says you're behind the cause, but the moment you take it off, what does that say? I'm no longer supporting leukaemia?
There's another dilemma: what if you become attached to a particular bracelet and want to wear it all the time? Imagine the horror on reading that a cure had been found.

Now there are wristbands for everything, from favourite football teams to political candidates. But where are the wristbands for depression? I suppose those are the ones handed out at the Priory clinic when you check in.

Since wearing a wristband creates a groundswell of support, I'd like to wear one that goes direct to the source: me. My wristband would be for raising awareness of a dire situation: mine. It would be black and it would say: "No hope". It would sanction wallowing. But it would have to stand for passive support. I wouldn't want anyone going on Oprah talking about my problems. I don't want advice. I just want to wear the band, quietly, in solidarity. It goes with everything.

It turns out that there already is a black wristband. And you know what it's for? Melanoma. It's a sign.