The Anxiety That Arises in a Chronically Ill Person During Cold and Flu Season


For the average human, catching a cold means feeling tired, groggy and uncomfortable for about a week. A scratchy throat and a stuffy nose may be the extent of the symptoms the typical human adult suffers from as the body fights off the virus. But for me, and many others living with chronic illness, a simple cold causes far more debilitation.

With an already weak immune system, it takes my body almost three times as long (sometimes longer) to fight off a regular cold, and that is only true if I stay in bed all day and do nothing. Others who are healthy and not living with chronic illness are still able to go to work and carry on with daily life and activities.

I was never afraid of germs before my illness took control, but now I take as many preventative measures as I can to keep from coming down with a cold. I wash my hands, never touch door knobs or handles, never use another person’s pen or the pen in a doctor’s office, stay far away from others who are sick or coughing, and take immune support supplements. I’ve gone as far as covering my face when I go out in public. At first I would try to be as discreet as possible by wearing a big fluffy scarf around my neck that I could easily pull up over my nose and mouth, but over time I’ve accepted wearing a surgical mask across my face. Yes, others stare, but they don’t know my story or my condition. They don’t know that a simple cold could leave me bedridden and suffering a slew of other symptoms for weeks.

In the weak condition my body is in, I feel like it’s fighting to function on a regular basis, so if something foreign enters my body, it is beyond a struggle for my body to try to fight off. I will do whatever is in my power to do to avoid it becoming an infection and needing to take an antibiotic. Although, sometimes a cold turns into a sinus infection or upper respiratory infection and I wind up needing an antibiotic. In the past it has taken two courses of antibiotics at times to kill an infection. Antibiotics often do more harm than good, especially to my gut which is already struggling to function. Even with high count and prescription probiotics, antibiotics cause such pain to my gut it’s had to think about putting them in my body.

So as cold and flu season begins, I find my anxiety level higher at the thought of coming down with a cold and fearing how long it will take for my body to fight it off.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

group of five people in silhouette waving

5 People You Meet When You Have A Chronic Illness

This piece was written by Amy Waggoner, a Thought Catalog contributor. So you’ve been diagnosed with an invisible illness. Maybe you have lupus, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other serious illness that may go unnoticed by anyone that isn’t you. No matter what disease you have, there are always people who want to give you [...]
Wireframe portrait of woman, close-up, low angle view with red background

When Mental and Physical Illnesses Overlap

It goes without saying that when a person is plagued with a debilitating, life-altering physical illness, they are most likely going to develop some mental and emotional anguish at a certain point.   This is mental illness as a more indirect result of physical illness; this is primarily psychological.  Then there is a large portion of [...]
Tired woman lying on bed face down

When Tiredness Becomes a Part of Your Life

Exhaustion. It overpowers you as you wake up in the morning. Ironic right, that you are exhausted from sleep. The reality of the situation is that thousands of people wake up feeling this way every morning. Whether mentally or physically ill, we do not wake up feeling refreshed, but rather we wake up feeling like [...]
woman opening window

How I Express My Gratitude to the People Who Care for Me

When I was in college and still able to do the things I wanted, I would always go to a gathering of thousands of students every Tuesday night on campus called Breakaway. We had some worship time (shout out to the Jeff Johnson Band) and then would hear from the speaker, Ben Stuart. One night [...]