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

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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.

Originally published: October 4, 2016
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