Looking good is not a good idea for getting needed services if you are somehow disabled.

Looking good, though, is something I do every day to keep my spirits up. My vanity (and fortuitous genetics) help me face the world, feel better about myself and act nicer, too. But it also makes things worse for me. I encountered this last week while going through testing to be approved for extra services through RTD, the public transportation system in Denver, a worthy ally to have.

A friend drove me to the center where the testing would take place. Right away she noticed that it “smelled like old people.” Later she noted that I didn’t look much like the other people there. I began to worry and fret.

I don’t smell like an old person, and likely never will. I wear shorts and sandals in the summer, paint my toenails pretty colors and scrub away calluses on my feet. I buy attractive clothes at heavily discounted prices, and friends give me nice clothes they don’t wear anymore. I look good, and I want to look good. It helps me forget and to not dwell on the very serious and worsening threat to my health. I smile and laugh a lot, too. Which is even more distracting and confusing for those evaluating me for special services.

There was a long wait, nearly two hours, between two evaluators. I was getting so tired I wanted to lie down on the floor and take a quick nap. Anything to get some rest. Insomnia combined with constant fatigue, both symptoms of the liver disease I have, were piling up (as they do every day around 2-3 p.m.) and I could barely hold my head up and keep my eyes open.

Finally, the second evaluator came over and we went outside. It was hot and very windy, two conditions I don’t fare with very well. We walked about two blocks and sat down on a bus bench, shaded thank goodness, and talked about my limitations, the nature of the disease and all that crap. (I call it Talking Sick and I hate it.) She asked me how old I was. By then my mind was really in Nap Time, and I had to think about the correct answer. Sheesh. This is going well, I thought. (Or rather, Dorothy Parker thought that.) She said I looked a lot younger than my age. Oh hell, now I know we’re going downhill.

When I got home at 5 o’clock, having left at 1:30 to arrive in time for the 2:15 appointment, I was so completely exhausted I felt sick. I was hungry. Instead of the meal I had planned to cook, I put a frozen meal in the microwave, ate it, and staggered to bed at 7. I slept 7 hours, which is a miracle in my book. But that made it 2 a.m. when I was really done sleeping. Yippee. I finally got up at 3:30 a.m. and started writing and drinking coffee. At least I have something to do in the morning.

Right now, I just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head for the day. But I have things to do. And I do have to look good. I’ll never stop believing that. Hell, that even made me laugh to write it. But I will worry and fret till I hear from RTD – in two damn weeks! – whether I passed or failed.