chronic pain

The A-Z of Illness

There are many things we learn over the course of an illness that would’ve been better known towards the start. Funny enough, though, a lot of these things can fit in the alphabet. What better way to share things we wish we knew at the onset of illness?
A: Am I sick?
Sometimes it’s easy to doubt how ill we are. We gaslight ourselves because others doubt our illnesses. We might have a few good days and think we’re better. But, yes, we are sick even when we’re doing well. Even if I can’t see it or my friends and family can’t see it, I am still sick. Just because I look good or show up not naked to things doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.


B: Bills, Bills, Bills
Get ready to watch any savings you have leak slowly out of your account to cover medical bills, prescription co-pays, and more. Plus, good luck working to try to pay those off when your body won’t give you a break and you can’t hold down a real job!


C: Curse Words
They help relieve pain. No, really. Use the power of the curses and swears!


D: Disclosure
Every single time we meet someone new, whether romantically or platonically, we have to share about our illnesses all over again. It sucks – not just because of how difficult it is to be that emotionally vulnerable but also because we get to watch these potential relationships fade away as the impacts of our illnesses become more readily apparent.


E: Exhaustion
The level of tiredness you’ll face will be way past just tired and, at times, even past fatigue.


F: Food
Our relationship with food gets so complicated. You might be hungry all the time for a week and then lose your appetite for six months.


Guessing game: 
One of the most frustrating things about being sick is not being able to tell what you’ll be able to do at any given time. Having to RSVP essentially means playing a guessing game based on the season, other things you need to do around that time, and random crap.


Hot flashes: 
Chances are, you’ll deal with this (and/or cold flashes) as a part of your health issues. Keep a bottle of lotion in the fridge for those hot flashes. It’s a lifesaver!


I: Intolerances and allergies
Many people with health issues have or develop intolerances and allergies to various foods or other things. Conditions like these are called comorbidities and are super common.


J: Juggling
One of the most difficult things about illness is handling a million and one things at once. Schedules take a huge hit, necessitating a lot of juggling. A pile of doctor appointments on top of picking up medications and other supplies, getting lab work, etc. – it’s a lot, especially if you’re working.


K: KT Tape, Braces, and Wraps
One of the most important things to learn is how to ease pain and support your joints. Ace bandages don’t do the trick when they keep unraveling! Meister kickboxing/MMA wraps work a lot better. KT Tape can be super helpful, especially for supporting knees.


L: Lab Work
Depending on your health issues and medications, you may need lab work anywhere from once a week to a few times a year.


M: MRIs 
Chances are you’ll wind up in an MRI machine at some point. It’s very loud. On top of the noise, it’s not easy to lay a certain way – very still – for sometimes hours on end. Get your meditation or nap on.


N: No
Having to say no to a lot of things you’d rather do is commonplace. Eventually, you’ll have to start choosing what is more important to you, prioritizing time with friends and family in new ways.


O: Oh my god, why?
Everyone goes through periods where they get upset. We wonder why we’re ill when others aren’t. It’s okay to feel that way.


P: Pills
Get used to sounding like a maraca when you walk! And taking pill after pill. And figuring out what to drink with all those pills.


Q: Quitting
It’s okay to quit. It’s okay to feel lost. Quitting on things one day doesn’t mean the fight ends – it just means you need a break. And that’s okay.


R: Relationships
The toll that health issues take on relationships is often underestimated, whether that’s


S: Sex Life
As I talk about over on Chronic Sex, illnesses have wide-ranging effects and can especially affect our sex lives.


T: Thinking is hard
Brain fog is an asshole. It can and will rob you of your ability to think and communicate clearly with others. It’s a part of why I do almost all of my communicating via writing – it’s the best way for me to be able to fight the fog.


U: Unpredictable
Chances are, your health will be incredibly unpredictable. Swelling, pain, and other illness factors do not work on a schedule.


V: Vomit
Yup. You’re gonna vomit – maybe a little or maybe a lot.


W: Well-meaning friends
People make well-meaning comments that erase the feels we have. The thing is that we know you mean well, which is why we don’t get hella angry, but erasing our feels or experiences is super harmful.


X: Xerox (as in making copies)
You’re gonna be making and copying and printing out a million and one things related to your condition(s)… including the incredibly long medical records we’re likely to have.


Y: Youth
Guess what? People get chronically ill and disabled in their youth. These things can strike at any age. Get over it.


Z: Zebra
The zebra is an adorable and majestic animal. It’s also silly and cute. More importantly for illness stuff, though, the zebra is a rare disease mascot.


What would you add to the list?

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