“You don’t look sick.”
“You’re too young to be sick.”
“If you’re sick, how come you’re out and about?”
These are some of my least favorite comments and questions. Yes, I’m young. Average age of diagnosis is 12-25, so many Crohn’s patients aren’t necessarily older. The inflammatory battle occurring within my body leads to a gradual decrease in well being. Think of a plane slowly nosediving. It’s not a dramatic crash. It’s over time, and it wears me down bit by bit. So no, I don’t look sick, but feeling fatigued day after day after day takes its toll, so I won’t feel up to doing everything healthy people do. Nonetheless, I also get used to living with mild to moderate pain, so I’m able to function. There’s no sense in taking a sick day when I feel sick everyday but can still work.
I don’t want to sound negative, so here is why these comments are hurtful for the chronically ill.
I understand saying I don’t look sick may be meant as a compliment. How does it help, though? Do I need to look sick in order for others to believe I’m sick? Because that’s a huge problem. My college professors (give or take the compassionate ones) looked at me like “sure you’re sick.” After failing classes and being forced to work shifts at the restaurant because I didn’t “look” sick, I don’t take too kindly to this comment. I’m sure many IBD patients feel the same way.
“You’re too young to be sick.” Yes, people that say this are pointing out the injustice of my situation. I am too young. But this only reminds me I get to live the majority of my life with this disease. And that’s not something I enjoy being reminded of.
“If you’re sick, why are you up and about?” And live everyday of my life in bed? Those are my only options? I kind if have to work. I kind if have a family. I don’t want to waste my kids’ childhood holed up in my room. So if I can manage to do things, I will. And I shouldn’t be judged for it.
Stepping off my soap box once again…
And if you’re an IBD patient, or any patient, what comment bugs you the most?