10 things not to say to this sick person

There are lots of lists doing the rounds on the Internet about things healthy people should never say to a sick person, and while I can agree with many of the points there are some which, to my mind, are left off.  So I thought I’d do my own top 10 list of things people say to me which makes me want to poke them in the eye:

1. You poor thing.

Gee thanks!  Being reminded by you that my life is a pile of crap compared to yours is awesome, but just so’s you know it makes me hate you.

2. Well, you know what it’s like.

No, I really don’t.

I don’t know what it’s like to be exhausted after a 12 hour working day, have 7 hours sleep and wake up refreshed and ready for another 12 hour working day.

I don’t know what it’s like to have an aching back after I’ve spent 2 hours pressure washing my car.

I don’t know what it’s like to be tired after treking 4 miles up a fell.

I don’t know what it’s like to drive 7 hours to my holiday destination.

That’s because I can’t do any of these things, but you can.  I wish you’d be grateful instead of whinging.

3. I know how you feel, because I get migraines/backpain/tired/insomnia.

No, you really don’t know how I feel.

You get a migraine, pop a pain killer and have a kip while it takes effect.  I get a migraine and lie unmedicated for 3 days wishing I were dead.

You have a bad back, which doesn’t stop you working, or taking part in leisure activities, and doesn’t leave you unable to hoover your carpets or clean out your bath.  You pop a painkiller, or visit an osteopath, and get relief.  I have had daily back pain since the age of 11, which is so severe I use a mobility scooter and spend half my day lying down because it’s too painful to sit upright.  I am unable to take pain killers, and last time I visited an osteopath I ended up bedridden for 3 months after an anaphylactic reaction.

You do too much, get tired, have a sleep, and wake feeling raring to go.  I do too much, get tired, go to sleep, wake up feeling even more tired than I did the night before, then spend the next week in bed trying to claw my energy back.

You have the odd night where you toss and turn, then spend the next night having 2 extra hours lie-in to make up for it.  I haven’t slept a single night through, or had a lie-in, for 21 years.

And if you insist on trying to keep comparing your situation to mine I might have to kick you really hard in the shin.

4. What do you do all day?

I make effigies of insensitive individuals like you and stick pins in them.

5. I wish I looked that good when I was ill.

I am thin because I struggle to eat through daily nausea.

I have nice hair because I wear a wig due to alopecia.

And I’m only standing upright with the aid of braces under my clothes.

I’m glad all this makes me look like a regular human being.

6. It’s good to see you out.

I am out because I can’t afford to pay someone to walk my dog twice a day.

I am out because I need to go to the cashpoint to get money to pay my cleaner because I can’t clean my house myself.

I am out because I’ve just been to the doctors.

I am out because I’ve just taken my Mum to the doctors.

I am out because I need to collect my special yeast-free bread because I can’t eat the normal foods you take for granted.

I am out because I have no other choice, but I feel like shit and will pay for it later.

7. Be careful, you don’t want to do too much.

How have I ever managed to live with my diseases for 21 years without your advice?  No…….wait….. I managed fine.  That’s because I know more about my health than you do.  I’m not stupid and I’m not a child, stop treating me like one.

8. It’s only an hour in the car, you can manage that surely?

So, the day doesn’t involve me having to get dressed.  Walk the dog.  Make and eat breakfast and tidy the pots away.  Drive 7 miles to my parents to drop the dog off.  Meet you.  Travel an hour in the car. Lug my camera gear to our destination.  Spend 4 hours standing taking pictures.  Travel an hour back in the car.  Pick my dog up and drive 7 miles home.  Cook my tea, eat it and clear away the pots?  That sounds like a brilliant day, count me in!

9. Can’t you just push through and do a bit more?

OMG that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years!  Thanks for the advice, I must be cured.  Or bedridden, anaphylactic and dislocated from pushing myself too much.

10. I don’t know how you cope with it all.

I wasn’t aware I had a choice, the only other option being to slit my wrists in the bath.  Each year I admit to asking my diseases to have the day off for Christmas and my birthday (and sometimes Easter if I’m feeling greedy) but they wifully ignore me – they should really be sent to the naughty step for a decade or two.

I know people say these things because they’re trying to care, or empathise, or relate, but actually they’re just being insensitive and if only they knew how much it doesn’t help, they might stop.

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6 thoughts on “10 things not to say to this sick person

  1. naturallymum

    I could draw up another list of these that doctors say. Most recently when I told a doctor I was feeling ill because of the bleach smell in the hospital (they were running an hour and a half late and had no windows open) she said “well, that could be anything!”. Another classic “she can make that happen by herself” (regarding my daughters reflux). I need to stop thinking about them now, they make me so angry!

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  2. Teri Scherzinger

    Hi Jax! The one I get most of the time is “I must have chronic fatigue syndrome”. The best reply I have come up with is ” everyone says that”. It’s surprising how many uncaring remarks are made by those who should be the most caring. I had a relative tell me “Everybody has to take a pill” after I had to take a debilitating cancer drug for five years!

    I must say I now understand some people in my past, that I was not sympathetic to their situation. I never said anything rude, just thought they were slacking a bit. Some day the people not getting us may have an epiphany of there own (karma!

    Also, I read about the organic shampoo you use, and ordered some yesterday. Soo anxious to try. My scalp gets really itchy and I thought it could be mast cell related, but didn’t know what to do about it. Thanks for the tip❕💚 Teri 💗

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  3. Guenevere

    I know that I struggle with the “you don’t look like you’re sick/in pain.” Currently, I have enough energy to put on the costume and war paint and, if I A) told you every time I was in pain you’d get compassion fatigue in less than a week and B)unless you have xray genetic vision, how would you know that I’m sick or in pain? OH WAIT, if you paid attention to how much I am constantly wringing/rubbing my hands, that my gait changes based on what hurts today and in what combination, you *would* know—what boggles me is the idea that you can casually glance at me and make a decision about how I “look”.

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  4. Louise

    I get the ‘I don’t know how you cope with it all’ or ‘You cope amazingly well considering…’ I try to take them as compliments but I have no other choice but to cope, the only other option is suicide.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Absolutely! It’s not like we can say “well, I couldn’t realy cope on Wednesday so I had a word with my disease and it had the day off to give me a break” is it?!

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