You Know You’ve Been Sick Too Long When…

You Know You’ve Been Sick Too Long When…

When your chronic illness has dragged on for months, years, or even decades, you may notice that you’ve accumulated some peculiar tendencies along the way. You catch yourself saying words and phrases you never knew before, your doctor appointments have become eerily familiar, and you laugh at things that only others with chronic illness would “get.” But rest assured, you’re not alone in these bizarre truths. So in the spirit of laughter being the best medicine, here are 30 funny-but-true signs that perhaps you, like so many of us, have been sick for too long.

You know you’ve been sick too long when…

1. You start to announce to your other sick friends that you’ve been sick for (*insert your duration here*) years, far longer than them, as if it were a bizarre badge of honor. How is this something we’re bragging about?! But, let’s face it, we all do this.

2. You know your chart better than your doctors do.

3. You find yourself weirdly flooded with pride when you ask your doctor such a highly educated question that they seem caught off-guard by your medical prowess and knowledge.

4. You can honestly say that you’ve avoided WebMD and/or Googling your symptoms for longer than a month…6 months…even a year?! How are we not being awarded sobriety chips of some sort for this feat of restraint?

5. You’re such a “frequent flyer” in the waiting room that you know all the other regulars by name and date of birth.

6. You’re using words like “flare” in place of phrases like “I’m extra sick today.”

7. You’ve considered purchasing your own hospital gown that fits you better and doesn’t have the smell of general “hospital funk” on it.

8. You avoid kids with colds at all costs. “Normal person sick” on top of what you’ve already got going on is the ultimate recipe for disaster…and you know it all too well.

9. You have your doctor, well…who are we kidding, all of your doctors on speed dial and in your “favorites” list on your phone.

10. You’ve considered making a t-shirt that lists all your symptoms on it so you won’t have to recount them to yet another new specialist.

11. You’ve considered making another t-shirt that says “Yes, I’m still sick” for family gatherings to avoid comments like, “You look great. I’m so glad you’re better,” (spoiler alert: you’re not feeling any better, and in fact, you’re now regretting dragging yourself out of bed to come to this family shindig in the first place).

12. You’ve tried more than 5 restrictive diets.

13. You know the good from the bad — the best kind of heating pad, the worst topical cream. When you roll up in the health and wellness aisles of your local pharmacy, you own that place.

14. You own more pairs of sweatpants and yoga pants than any other genre of legitimate leg-wear. 

15. You show up to an appointment and know exactly in what order the receptionist is going to ask the questions, and you’re now able to freakishly recite the answers before she even asks them. “*name*, yes, yes, no, no, no, yes, no but I wish I had been out of the country or a region in which I may have been exposed to Zika because I could sure use a vacation, and no."

16. You know what a “spoonie” is and you consider yourself one with a possibly misplaced sense of pride.

17. You can no longer live in a one bedroom apartment based solely on the amount of storage you require for the following: your medical records, insurance paperwork, medical equipment, a wide assortment of various supplies for any number of strange situations your body’s found itself in, and of course the old classic…medical bills. The good news is that if you find an abandoned CVS that’s available for rent, it should be a great fit for your next home.

18. You get paranoid when your healthy best friend tells you about some strange symptoms she’s having. The conversation goes like this, “I don’t want to panic you, but has your doctor tested you for…”

19. Your idea of speed dating is checking the left hand ring finger of your paramedics, specialists, nurses, and doctors. 

20. You put a lot of value in how smoothly a car rides, not because you’re that into nice cars, but because you’re that into avoiding unnecessary pain.

21. You always know where the nearest bathroom is.

22. You not only know what a pollution mask is, but you’ve purchased one in a fantastic design and color scheme that best says to the world, “There’s no shame in my game.”

23. Your service dog has its own social media accounts.

24. You have more than 3 pairs of hospital socks in your home…and you wear them often.

25. You no longer bother to read the side effects labels of new medication because, chances are, you already have them…before even taking the medication.

26. You do a double take literally anytime you see someone in scrubs to see if they’ve ever drawn your blood.

27. You’ve been through at least one medical procedure that you deem to be so incredibly embarrassing that you never ever mention or talk about because it’s too humiliating for even you to own up to. Even you…and you talk about everything.

28. You’re at a complete loss for words when your thoughtful friend asks, “So what foods are you not able to eat?” Um, how much time do you have? Where do I even start?

29. Your purse or “murse” (no shame, fellas!) is about a 4% to 96% ratio of stuff that you’d normally find in a purse, and literally anything else you could ever possibly need. This includes, but isn’t limited to, the following: medication, other medication, supplements, yet another medication but just in case, natural sweeteners for your coffee and tea but the kind that you know your favorite coffeeshop won’t have, massive quantities of hand sanitizer, sanitizing wet wipes, snacks that seem to help if you’re out somewhere and there’s nothing you can eat and you start to feel woozy, topical creams and balms, essential oils but like…a lot of them, a bag that you wouldn’t be opposed to barfing into if push came to shove, medical tape, the really good kind of bandages, gauze, obscure medical devices, and pain relievers to help deal with the fact that you’re carrying around such a heavy bag all the time!

30. You know, without a doubt, that you belong in the People Hope Tribe, and you welcome as many other new friends as you possibly can because we don’t have to go through any of this alone.

So here's to us, fellow chronically ill friends. Here's to laughing at our collective oddities and being understood by one another. And here's to going through life together, finding joy everywhere along the way. 


Written by: Anna Kowlessar, Founder of People Hope

After many years of dealing with her own chronic illness, Anna founded People Hope to fill a much-needed void that so many people are looking for today - a place of audacious hope, a genuine community, and somewhere to belong regardless of diagnosis. You can read more about that here. Or you can keep reading this to learn that a few of her obsessions include cuddling with her dog, Walter Norman, singing ridiculous made-up songs with her husband, Randy, and snacking on salty-sweet treats! She loves Christmas, hates the color lavender, and adores her amazing Tribe!


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