Everyone has opinions, but people should think before commenting on someone else’s health. When a person has a chronic disease, the remarks can really hurt.
Remarks that can sting someone with Crohn’s
1. “You don’t look sick”
I shouldn’t have to look a certain way for you to accept that I have an illness. But I hear this comment a lot because, to others, my illness appears invisible. You don’t feel good when you’re not believed. Just because my appearance doesn’t reflect how I feel on the inside doesn’t mean I’m not sick. So please don’t make assumptions about my health based on how I look. Some days a woman wants to look cute, despite how she’s feeling on the inside.
2. “You’re too young to be sick”
I’ve heard this a lot over the years. There is no age limit on when a condition can manifest itself. I feel like I was robbed of my 20s because I had to deal with asthma, CVID, migraines, major surgeries, Crohn’s and more, starting around age 18. I heard a lot of “you’re too young to be sick” when I had my first hip replacement at 23. (Thank you, prednisone.) I agree I was too young for a lot of things to happen, but they did.
3. “It must be nice not having to go to work/school”
If only that were the case. It’s not like I’m sitting around the house playing games and watching TV all day. Not working or attending school weren’t my decisions. They were made for me. This is because I’m not physically able to work or go to school. It’s hard giving up a job or missing a chance at a higher education because of illness. This often leads to disappointment or feelings that you’re a failure. Besides that, staying home isn’t appealing when you experience pain, GI symptoms, and exhaustion that makes it hard to get out of bed. I’d rather work 9 to 5.
4. “Have you tried the ___ diet? It’s best for people with Crohn’s”
This one is a doozy! It can be really aggravating when people who don’t have Crohn’s tell you that you should be on a certain diet because it’s best for Crohn’s. Unless you have the same disease or you’re a doctor specializing in the condition, please don’t tell others what is best for their disease. People with chronic illnesses don’t want to get defensive about the way their disease works or defend their life styles, including diets. I know others mean well and are trying to help. But it can be very aggravating when people think they know more about my disease than I do. I’m always up for hearing about diets — feel free to tell me about them. But please don’t insist I need to be on a certain diet because it’s best for my disease.
5. “You’re on too many medications; it’s not good for you”
There are many opinions out there on whether taking medications is helpful or hurtful in the long run. I know there are natural remedies for various conditions, but sometimes you have to take medications to survive. Trust me when I say that I’m aware medications can have nasty side effects. I may not like taking so many medications, but because I have a lot of medical conditions, I don’t have a choice.
Here’s the bottom line on comments and suggestions about someone’s medical condition: Be aware that they can sting, and feel more like criticism than advice.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.