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15 Ridiculous Things Said to People Recovering From Injuries

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I recently asked people in injury communities on Facebook about the most ridiculous things people have said to them during their recovery from a serious injury. Here’s what they shared.

1. “It’s been a week! Why are you still milking it?”

2. “Oh, I didn’t know that pain would be involved with the surgery.”

3. “Thanks for pretending you injured yourself in the [volleyball] game so we don’t have to play anymore.” I did not pretend my ACL was torn.

4. “I thought that you meant that you injured yourself at the ACL music festival.”

5. “How did you do it? I do not understand how you broke four bones falling off a bike, that’s not possible.”

6. A guy I see regularly where I walk always says, “Where’s your parrot? Has he flown off?”

7. After explaining that I’d torn the ACL in my knee, “Oh I’ve had a sprained ankle before.”

8. “At least you have a good story!”

9. “I was back to running six months after my operation. You’re just being lazy.”

10. Someone said I didn’t have enough muscle in my legs because I am a girl, and I should have built them up more if I didn’t want to hurt myself! (I just had a really bad landing after a jump while skiing. It would have happened to anyone.)

11. “Why do you need an op? Just go for massage.”

12. “Why don’t you try this essential oil? It worked for me when my knee was bugging me, and that swelling will go right down!” I’m not knocking essential oils by any means, but my swelling was due to a ruptured ACL, MCL, meniscus tear, swollen cartilage and bone marrow leaking out of my tibia and femur!

13. When I broke my wrist skateboarding, someone asked me whether I eat enough dairy. Somehow I don’t think that was going to help much.

14. “That’s it! You should really stop playing sports now. You’re not as young as you used to be.” I turn 31 this year! B*tch please.

15. “Hey, do you want to go for a run/hike/play badminton?” Everyone keeps forgetting I have this injury!

Some of these things are kind of funny, and some are plain wrong. Humor, such as  jokes or light teasing that is meant in a loving way, can help us all deal with the challenges in our lives. It can build connection and strengthen relationships.

According to Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, “When we laugh, our bodies release endorphins and dopamine, nature’s feel-good chemicals. The result? We can better cope with stress, find hope, and see problems in new ways.”

Some ridiculous things, when said flippantly to someone who’s really struggling, can have the opposite effect and be remembered for months, years or even a lifetime. No one should make sexist or other discriminatory comments. And telling someone they are being lazy or should not aspire to getting back to sports and other activities is rude and judgmental.

A couple of tips on what to say to someone who’s injured:

If you’re not injured but know someone who is, ask them how they’re doing today and how you can help them. Can you offer to take them out to do something fun, like see a movie or go to a park where dogs play?

They’ll probably appreciate your genuine empathy. And if they don’t respond or can’t accept your help right now (as many people often feel bad asking for help), let them know you’re there for them. Check back in again a few days later.

Thanks to the people in the Recover and Thrive After Injury and ACL Recovery Club Facebook groups for sharing your stories.

Learn more at Recover From Injury.

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Originally published: September 24, 2017
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