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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


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