To the Person Who Reminded Me Others Have It Worse After My Hospital Stay


The conversation with you happened over two years ago, and yet I still remember it vividly.

I was only a month out of the hospital when you cornered me in the hallway at work. You knew my mom had moved to live with me because I was extremely sick, but I don’t think you fully understood how close to dying I had come. You asked me how I was doing.

I answered honestly, but vaguely. I told you I was doing slightly better, but I was still very medically unstable. I had to take each day at a time, and sometimes even each moment.

I don’t believe I’d even finished my sentence before you responded, “Oh. Well, you should think of those worse off than you. You know, like those that have cancer. Or a chronic disease.”

You rendered me speechless as I tried to gather my thoughts into coherent words.

It was then I told you I do have a chronic disease. And actually, it was my chronic disease that was making me so ill. That didn’t stop you though. You still responded with, “Oh. Well, think of those worse off than you. Like those living with cancer.”

I wish I had the courage to tell you how much those words stung. At the time, you had no idea how many scary and painful medical tests I was having done. How many specialists I was seeing. How that particular hospital visit gave me PTSD that I still struggle with to this day. I didn’t disclose any of that to you.

You also didn’t know I watched my close friend die from cancer not even two years prior. How I sat late at night with her, both of us crying, because we didn’t know what our futures looked like. How we both had our lives planned out and knew what we were supposed to accomplish before it seemed like our dreams were stolen from us. How we both had scary medical labels associated with our pain and suffering. I lived. She didn’t. But I also almost didn’t live. Your careless words brought back a tidal wave of memories with her.

Amber and her friend Kara

I’m not sure what you hoped to accomplish by stating that phrase, not once, but twice to me.

I wish you had the wisdom to merely acknowledge the fact that I was going through a difficult time and you didn’t know how to respond. You could have encouraged me and reminded me I didn’t need to compare my journey to anyone else’s in order to validate it.

If you’re struggling with something and someone feels the need to remind you other people have it worse, remember this: It doesn’t invalidate your emotions or fears. Your journey is your journey. Someone might have it worse, but someone also might have it better. Don’t ever doubt the difficulty of your journey. Guilt over your emotions will help no one.

Follow this journey on Clearly Alive.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability and/or disease. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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