Why Your Germs Scare Me as Someone With Chronic Illness


Healthy people wash their hands as needed and hope they don’t get sick.  Catching a cold may not be fun, but they are usually back to their healthy self in a few days. Coming down with a stomach bug is tiring, but again, after a few days pass, their bodies will function normally. When someone with chronic illness is exposed to germs, sickness is taken to a whole new level.

If you’re a healthy person, living from day to day with a body that functions as it should, I hope you’ll hear me out. We chronic illness warriors weren’t always as frightened of germs as we are today, now that our bodies don’t know how to recoup like we once did. For many of us, our diseases flare when we catch a viral or bacterial infection, and it may take weeks or months to get back to where we were.

Many of us are also on medications that suppress our immune system. As I am about to begin a medication that will kill many of my B cells, my immune system will not be able to fight off infection like a healthy immune system can. Catching a simple virus can put me at risk for other secondary infections, making it even harder to recover. As you can imagine, flu season is daunting for many of us.

As you enter public places when you’re sick, please remember that you may be putting others at risk. We did not choose to become chronically ill, we did not choose to be placed on immunosuppressive medication and we certainly did not choose to be in contact with your germs. We get it; sometimes you need to leave your house while you’re sick. But if you know someone like me, stay away from them. We’re not “crazy.” We’re not germaphobic. We’re simply trying to stay afloat in a body that can’t operate at full capacity.

Getty Image by Popartic


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


Related to Multiple Sclerosis

black and white illustration of a woman with flowers in her hair looking at a butterfly

3 Ways You Can Turn Around a Bad Day With Chronic Illness

We all have those bad days; however, disabilities can really make them unbearable. Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain, depression, physical difficulties or you just can’t seem to get anything right, or even start your day feeling good. The question we may often ask ourselves is “How am I going to get through this today?” It’s [...]
4 mindset changes that can help you cope with Chronic Illness

4 Mindset Changes That Can Help You Cope With Chronic Illness

Mindset Living with a chronic illness means looking at life in a different way; altering your mindset is one of the changes that can be helpful. These are the four changes that have helped me cope with my chronic illnesses. The mindset of someone with a chronic illness is different from someone who is healthy [...]
jamie lynn sigler and jack

Jamie-Lynn Sigler Shares the 'Guilt' of Making Choices You Don't Want to as a Mom With MS

If you’ve ever had to make a tough parenting decision because of your illness, you may have found yourself dealing with similar emotions as Jamie-Lynn Sigler. The “Sopranos” actress, who went public with her multiple sclerosis in 2016 (14 years after her diagnosis), shared an Instagram post Thursday night for all the other parents out [...]
woman with brown hair pulled back standing outside and looking away

Why I Don't See Myself as an MS 'Warrior'

I am not an MS warrior. I know this is taboo to say. But what I do every day is not bravery. It is not fighting. It is surviving. I live with this disease, I live alongside it. I respect it, and if I do that, it, at times, respects me. It’s not that I [...]