Are you STILL sick?

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Are you still sick?

I cannot express how much this question irritates me. As someone with a chronic illness, and who has been “chronically” sick over the last 9 or so years, constantly having the “flu” or a “stomach bug”, that is probably one of the most irritating questions anyone can ask me.  Are you still sick? – Yes. Because I am ALWAYS going to be sick. I am always going to be fighting a battle inside my body, that just because you can’t see, doesn’t mean it has gone away. Yes. Some days I am going to walk around with not a single symptom for you to see. I will look, sound, and act normal. But that does not mean that I am not sick. Inside my body EVERY DAY is pain. There is upset, there is chaos. It hurts to different levels, and some days are much more bearable than others, but it never stops.  Are you still sick?  Pfft.. it is like asking  Are you still alive?  If you can see me.. yes.

neck_painI know that people are unaware of their words, and most don’t know the difference between “Are you still sick?” and “Are you feeling any better?”, but there is a HUGE difference between the two for those of us with not only chronic illnesses, but chronic pain. Asking me if I am still sick makes me feel like it is something I have control over, and am neglecting to resolve. It is as if I can take a few pills, and resolve it, but I am refusing to treat myself and am allowing myself to be sick. It is like asking “Are you STILL not done with that report?” or “Are you STILL getting ready?”. Still implies that there is a end to reach. That this will be resolved, and it is a controllable issue. Yes.. I am STILL sick, and I will ALWAYS be sick. There are some days that I am feeling much better than others, and days I can barely move.  Yes.. I am still sick.

I don’t mean to be such a picky person, but I have been hearing these types of things for years. My immune system has slowly been going downhill for such a long time, that when I fell ill over two years ago, I felt like it was something I should be able to fix. People don’t seem to realize the battle I was fighting inside to “get over this”. Mind over matter, right? Before I even hit rock bottom, I had heard “Are you sick AGAIN?” and “How do you keep getting so sick?” over and over, year after year.  Before I thought I was chronically sick, but now I know I am chronically ill. So what is the difference between being sick and being ill?

sick·ness

1. The condition of being sick; illness.
2. A disease; a malady.
3. Nausea.
4. A defective or unsound condition.
ill·ness 

1.

a. Poor health resulting from disease of body or mind; sickness.
b. A disease.
2. Obsolete Evil; wickedness.

sick-womanLooking at the simple definitions, one would think that it wouldn’t make a difference when it comes to the choice of words. Sick or ill? Don’t they mean the same thing? At face value? Yes. Upon further research (Which I did because I hate feeling like an asshole), I found there is for SURE a difference. As you poke around the internet using those two terms, you start to be lead two very different ways. Sickness leads you down the round of cures, remedies, ways to find the solution; To treat and PREVENT return. Parasites, allergies, intestinal yeast.  All of these things can be treated, and be prevented in the future. Allergies being the most chronic, but still easy to treat. I have allergies, and I do NOT consider it a chronic illness, or even a chronic sickness. It is a reaction to a state of my environment. It can be easily treated and taken care of. I have always had allergies, and have never had anyone ask me, “Do you STILL have allergies?” because we ALL know allergies are situational, and easily taken care of and they are an acute sickness. Wait.. What? Acute? Oh, there is a word we have yet to include in the conversation yet.  Acute. It is the opposite of chronic. So what does it mean? Let’s keep this simple.

In medicine, an acute disease is a disease with a rapid onset and/or a short course.
chronic condition is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects.[1] The term chronic is usually applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months.[1]Common chronic diseases include arthritis, asthma, cancer, COPD, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

Most times when people are sick they are experiencing symptoms that are and are going to be short lived. The flu. A cold. Any type of virus, or bacteria. These are going to cause someone to get sick for a short period of time, can either be treated or run it’s course, and may or may not affect the person again in the future. An illness generally implies that this is going to be long lived, is incurable, and will be chronic. It will always be there, it is not going to leave the host, and is generally going to be the system attacking itself. I have a Rheumatic Illness, this means that my body is attacking itself, and there is no cure. I will always be “ill”, my symptoms varying based on how my body decided to react that day. There are ways that I can avoid flare ups, try to prevent additional pain, and handle a flare when it does happen. sick I also have Celiac disease, which is much different. Celiac is a chronic illness, however the treatment is simple. Don’t eat gluten. So much easier said than done, but can be done in general. As long as you avoid gluten your body will be fine, and you can live a symptom free normal life. Now, with how I just described sickness, this can fall into the same category. The only issue is that Celiac Disease is actually an autoimmune disease. But I digress… let’s get back to what I was saying, and we will go into Celiac in another blog post.

When it comes to technicalities, I can go on and on all day. But my feelings aren’t a technicality, and my day to day illness cannot just be snapped away. At the end of the day, questions that imply that I have ANY control over this illness does nothing but cause hurt, guilt, and misery. Ask anyone with a chronic illness, especially one with chronic pain how the word “still” hurts them in other ways. Each and every one can give you multiple of examples of how this word has turned so ugly in their world, and can cause a whole new level of emotional pain. All I really want is for people to have a bit of tact, and consider the feelings of those of us who have to “still” be sick every. single. day.

Are you still sick?  Yes.
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3 thoughts on “Are you STILL sick?

  1. I am STILL sick too and also hate that question and what it implies. I tend to use I’m ill and I’m sick interchangeably so it’s interesting to read your analysis of the definitions. Ill to me definitely seems more serious and appropriate to chronic ill health. Great post and I love the teddybear picture!

    • Thank you! It’s hard for people to really understand, and the problem is they won’t realize how they’re hurting unless we tell them. Then comes sounding like an asshole, so it falls on our shoulders to either accept what they say, and try not to be hurt or try to tactfully let them know that their verbiage matters.

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