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When Chronic Illness Makes Getting Sick a Big Deal, but People Think You're 'Exaggerating'

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It’s that time of year again. The sun is shining, the trees are growing and the pollen is high. It’s hay fever season! Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, itching. “It’s OK, everyone gets a touch of hay fever, it’s like the common cold in winter. It’s not that bad, carry on with your normal day, you will be back to normal in no time.”

The thing is, I have a lot of other health conditions which means recovering from these more common illnesses takes a lot more time than other people. Sore throats, sickness bugs, headaches – these all worsen my chronic symptoms to a point that they are unbearable. To the point I am bed-bound even if I appear to have a common cold. To the point where I have ended up in the hospital because I caught the virus that was traveling around school.

People think you are being dramatic. They think that because they were able to recover in a matter of days, that you should have a similar recovery time. Or some people think I am making it seem worse than it actually is. I have been told to stop exaggerating. “I wasn’t that ill when I had the same thing, get over yourself and start getting better already.”

What people don’t understand is that my body is already fighting illness. My body is fighting 24/7. Trying to keep up normal functions so I am able to get through life. My body doesn’t work like other people’s. It has only recently learned how to work and it only has done that with the help of the copious amounts of medicines I have to take.

As soon as something abnormal happens in my body, like I get a cold, a sore throat or a headache, my body does not know how to cope and it doesn’t have the resources to cope with these abnormalities. Therefore it tries to shut down. Making me a lot sicker than someone who experiences those symptoms without a chronic illness.

Each and every one of our bodies is different and they all respond to things in different ways. Please do not think that because you recovered in one way, everyone else will be the same. Every body has a different battle to fight.

Getty Image by Tero Vesalainen

Originally published: August 8, 2018
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