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13 Things I Hear a Lot as Someone Living With a Chronic Illness

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When you’re living with a chronic health problem you get used to other people finding your life very abnormal. Often people make comments on just how different aspects of your life are compared to what is considered the “norm” and you become accustomed to it. Throughout my years of being diagnosed with chronic illness, I myself have faced a variety of different comments from a variety of sources; however, I have found that often there are many similarities to the comments and there can be quite a few in common.

1. “You’re on a lot of medication for someone so young.” This is something I do hear a lot as I am on various tablets and inhaled medications and people tend to think it’s a little bit eccentric. You often find yourself having to add another medication to the seemingly ever-growing list to deal with the side effects caused through another medication that is vital to you.

2. “I’ve never heard of that before, are you sure it’s real?” Yes, I completely came up with a list of symptoms and a complex medical name in my “free time” because I was bored.

3. “I’ve only got a cold, why can’t we meet up?” What people seem to forget is their simple cold, or their virus which causes minimal symptoms, can be life-threatening to someone with a chronic illness and completely impact their body’s normal functioning, it can put a person totally off balance for a longer period of time and result in much more than a few simple symptoms which barely impact them to being very bothersome.

4. “I’ve heard of that before! My sister’s brother’s grandad’s cousin’s uncle has that!” You suddenly find that everyone seems to know of someone with your medical condition whether it be a very rare condition that few people have. Another thing I’ve found is that everyone seems to become the expert on the condition because they know of someone with the condition, even if they know nothing about the condition.

5. “Don’t you think that losing/gaining weight would help?” I’ve found that everyone seems to bring weight into things, almost suggesting that my weight could be the underlying reason the health reason exists, even if it’s been proven that being underweight/overweight has absolutely no connection to your symptoms.

6. “You should become more active, it’ll be beneficial.” Everyone seems to believe they’re the expert in medical conditions nowadays. People seem to believe that by moving about it’ll reduce/eliminate symptoms and improve your outlook. The thing that people don’t seem to take into account is many people with chronic health problems struggle with issues being active and issues getting out and about, people don’t seem to take into consideration that most people with chronic illness would much rather be out and about, exercising instead of staying in.

7. “Are you at home or are you at the hospital just now?” As a patient who’s spent a great deal of time in the last few years in and out of hospital I’ve found that sometimes people will question whether you’re admitted to the hospital when they speak to you as it’s a somewhat regular occurrence.

8. “Are you sure you’re well enough to do that?” I’ve found that sometimes when people know you have a chronic health problem they, often unknowingly, begin to treat you somewhat “fragile,” thinking  you’re just spontaneously going to combust or break. They feel the need to almost discourage you from doing things and ask whether or not you need help with something or you need someone else to do something for you.

9. “Your health can’t be that bad.” Sometimes people think those with chronic health issues play on their health problems and almost exaggerate their symptoms and what is wrong with them. They feel certain that it possibly cannot be as bad as it’s being made out to be.

10. “My *insert relation* has that and it’s really not that bad, you’re just being dramatic.” People seem to forget that symptoms vary from person to person and even when two people are diagnosed with the same condition their experience of that condition will not be the same. I always use the analogy of, “someone can lose a finger and have a worse experience than someone who’s lost their entire hand.”

11. “You must love getting all the good drugs.” People seem to be under the illusion that patients who are given medications, particularly things like opiate-based drugs, enjoy getting the drug because it will get them “high,” the reality is so much different. In most situations you will be taking a medication to counteract a particular symptom you are experiencing. For example if you take morphine when you’re in pain, most of the time you will just be happy that you’re no longer experiencing the symptom you were before taking the medication that you won’t actually sit and register, “Oh I’m getting high off the drugs!” Not to mention that often these drugs come with side effects after taking them which while they can take away the initial symptom you were experiencing, they can also result in you feeling another symptom (i.e. you can feel nauseous after having an opiate-based drug).

12. “How do you possibly cope with all of that?” This is a difficult question to answer. The reality is you just do, there’s not really another option. You wake up some days, or even each day, and you don’t want to cope with it, you don’t want to deal with it, but most of the time there is no “off” switch, there is no way of being rid of the symptom/s for an hour or two, you find ways of coping and dealing with what you’re going through and that’s how you cope with it.

13. “Have you tried X natural remedy?” People come up with all sorts of new and fantastic ways to rid you of your chronic health issues. They seem to think this is a magical solution for every chronic illness out there and it will eliminate everything you’re going through. On top of that they think that your care providers are hiding this magical solution from you and not telling you about it. Typically these magical solutions tend to come at a cost to you and definitely have no guarantee of working however certain people seem dead certain it’ll cure absolutely everyone and everything!

Getty photo by Grandfailure

Originally published: October 26, 2018
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