The Phrase That Bothers Me the Most!

(This post is part of Chronic Link-up Friday hosted by Being Fibro Mom!)

Most people who are chronically ill have heard something along the lines of “But you don’t look sick?” at LEAST one time in their lives but the phrase that bothers me the most is when I am on the telephone discussing my health conditions with someone and towards the end of the call they say, “Well, you sound good.”

I could be telling them anything. That I’m having a Lupus flare, that I just went on a manic tear, or even that I have been experiencing chronic nausea since September and the doctors can’t figure out why.

Well you Sound Good.

I’m sure you’ve heard it too. To me it sounds like my friends or relatives are trying to brush what I said off or have completely not paid attention to what I have told them.

I know in reality they are just looking to end the conversation on a positive note. I know it can be awkward speaking to chronically ill people who never seem to have any good news to report and they just don’t know WHAT to say to us.

I think what I’d rather hear from them is something like, “Well I think of you often” or “Well your in my thoughts and/or prayers”. Or even just ending the conversation as you would with any well person, “It was good to talk to you.” Most sick people aren’t looking for sympathy or positive spins on our conditions, they just want to be treated like everyone else.

Have you ever heard “Well you sound good?” “What would you rather hear?

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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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27 Responses to The Phrase That Bothers Me the Most!

  1. Giftbearer says:

    I know the feeling, and in my experience people on the other end are not so innocent as merely not knowing what to say. I had a so-called friend of over 20 years blow up one day after I refused to answer one of her pointed questions and say she didn’t need to “hang out with a loser” after numerous not-so-subtle insinuations that she didn’t believe me. People who aren’t chronically ill have a real lack of empathy. Since then I am alot more guarded about sharing with people unless they have health problems themselves because it just gives them ammunition to use against me. It seems that the healthy don’t genuinely care what the truth is and in their world their perception is everything. They really need to thank God that they are not afflicted by such diseases and conditions and be more accepting because they’ve been spared and they need to get the core concept that bad things can happen to good people.

    How they should respond is the same way they would to someone with cancer; not pretend it doesn’t exist and not insult the person by treating them as if they’re overreacting, acknowledge that they take you seriously and express that they hope you get the best medical care available, and in addition they should ask if there is anything they can do to help instead of giving you messages that they just want out or consider your condition an inconvenience. One day they will get something medically they can’t recover from and when they do (sooner or later) they will need the same support and understanding from others. They may not want to think about it but hiding from that truth does not prevent it. I’m a firm believer that every person in society sets the tone for how the next person is treated. I was just talking to someone today about this very topic and they said that people are cynical nowadays because of scammers, and my response to that is that if that stops people from giving from the heart then we are doomed as a species and that people just need to let that idea go. Sure there are some scammers out there, but that should not prevent people from helping others and going in with the assumption that most people are honest.

    Things always balance out in the end. For the 1% of scammers there are 99% who are genuine and I would rather give my support and risk that I might occasionally give it too freely than to become jaded and come from a place of putting up walls because in the end that helps neither party.

    True compassion is openly given and is unconditional.

    Maybe at the core of such cynicism is the fear that this will happen to them if they acknowledge it in someone they know. Although that is magical thinking and not based in reality it is probably what’s behind their callousness.

    Nevertheless it is a bias and something they need to work on changing.
    Giftbearer´s last blog post ..Mold; The Silent Killer Your Doctors Might Not Consider

    • mamasick says:

      There are a TON of ignorant, arrogant people out there, the results being I do not have many family or friends left, but I am okay with that! Anyone is really just one step away from having a catastrophic illness. I hope that well people are coming to my blog and other chronics to gain some insight into our lives.

      • Giftbearer says:

        I actually forward links to my doctors to educate them when they don’t understand.

        • mamasick says:

          And it is the good doctor who is willing to read those links instead of being arrogant and playing God. I want a doctor who will listen to me and be interested in learning more, if I don’t find that I go elsewhere.

  2. Courtney says:

    Hi! Long time reader here 🙂
    I HATE when after I’ve caught someone up on how I’ve been feeling, they respond by saying “Well you look great!” …not what I wanted to hear!

    • mamasick says:

      I know, Courtney, it really does feel like they haven’t been listening AT ALL, doesn’t it? Especially when you’ve used up half the day’s energy by making yourself look presentable! I even used to hear this from doctors so now I do not wear makeup when I have an appointment. Thanks for sticking with my blog!

  3. I’m a yoga teacher so I get it ALL the time. How could a yoga teacher possibly have chronic health problems right? I try to gently point out, we all have our life challenges. Thanks for helping to raise awareness on this issue!

    • mamasick says:

      To me yoga might be the only exercise that a chronically ill person CAN do, so that comment doesn’t even make sense to me! Thanks for stopping by, Christa!

    • Giftbearer says:

      That’s interesting, Christina. I think sometimes our society equates illness too much with lack of self-care. It’s a concept that has been taken a bit too far lately. People need to understand that none of us lives forever and that despite doing everything right people still get sick and it’s not a person’s fault or necessarily anything they did or didn’t do that caused it. You could probably say to these people that alot depends on genetics and also all the stuff done to our food source (which is next to impossible to avoid).

      I think the growing number of blogs written by people like us do help to raise consciousness and hopefully will make the public more empathetic and maybe with the increasing number of people with chronic illnesses speaking out we can improve public perception.

      I’ve been thinking about creating video public service messages about this type of thing and putting them on my Youtube channel.

      • mamasick says:

        I think the youtube channel is a great idea. Sometimes I do wonder how to get my point across to the healthy population.

  4. Chronic Mom says:

    Ugh yes, people are so clueless sometimes.

    • mamasick says:

      Sometimes I think it’s because they truly don’t know what to say and they want to believe that we are better, Chronic Mom. That’s why I hope that I and others like me are being read by healthy people who will then know better!

  5. Donia says:

    Yes! Get that all the time. I can’t stand it when I’ve been telling someone (who’s asked) how long I’ve been ill (many years) and that I’ve become disabled from my illness this past year and they say,
    “Well, get better soon!” as if I’ve got a stubborn cold or something. It’s very disheartening to hear: like they either weren’t listening or have literally no frame of reference and/or ability to empathise with my actual situation.

    I’d rather hear “let me know if I can help with anything” (I likely won’t ask even though I can no longer drive, but it’s still nice to know they’re there for you if you do need them and they understand the gravity of the situation).

    • mamasick says:

      Sometimes I really do feel that people don’t know what to say to us, Donia, and they something that to us sounds utterly insulting and uncaring. I’d rather hear “let me know if I can help with anything” too! Yes, cooking and cleaning, please!

      • Donia says:

        Yes, I’ve been cooking since I was 6 but I can’t any longer. When I’m in so much pain I can’t even make buttered toast it would be so wonderful to just open up a container of home-cooked food some kind person had dropped off for me 🙂

  6. I agree with this so much. I have seronegative RA, fibro and ME and all these phrases are just people’s way of saying something positive when they don’t know what else to say but it’s so annoying and feels dismissive. My only choice other than to give in, is to fight and to some people, that makes me look ‘well”

    • mamasick says:

      It does feel annoying and dismissive, Hannah, but I do hope that they are coming from a place of love, and as we become a bigger presence on the internet that they hear us.

  7. What a strong lady you are.
    We have no choice but to power on do we!

    My mum has colitis & gets the same comments, once from a boss so she offered to take the boss to the toilet with her hahaa

    • Bunny says:

      Your mum is hilarious!!! Bravo to her!!!

    • mamasick says:

      That is very gross and very funny! Sometimes your sickness can even make you look attractive. I was losing weight and the doctors didn’t know why and it was just after I had my son and you would not believe the compliments I got!

  8. Bunny says:

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at age 46 — and yes, I was treated like it was nothing! I didn’t have pre-cancer — I actually had cancer — stage 2A which spread to one of my lymph nodes. When I called myself a “cancer survivor,” my father sarcastically laughed because he felt the cancer I had was nothing. It was a slow growing cancer, but make no bones about it, slow growing cancers can (and do) kill you too. . . And while I was going to the hospital daily for 33 treatments of radiation, my father (and one other person) had the nerve to tell me that it was just like getting a sunburn. . . I was asked repeatedly by an acquaintance why my hair didn’t fall out. I had to keep explaining to her that I had radiation therapy to my breast and lymph nodes, not chemotherapy. Radiation doesn’t make your hair fall out (unless it’s to your head). Chemotherapy is what makes your hair fall out. . . This cancer diagnosis came on the heels of several other serious diagnoses. I am tired of being sick and also tired of always having to explain myself to others. Honestly, it’s like suffering twice — once from the medical condition and a second time from other people’s rudeness. . . Thankfully, the cancer is gone (as far as I know). I still work, but I am concerned at some point I may not be able to continue working due to other health problems.

    • mamasick says:

      You are not the first cancer sufferer who has told me this, Bunny! Cancer seems so scary to me, I would think people would respect a person with it.

  9. Angie says:

    UGH! Yes, I hate that one. Or if you’re there in person, “Well, you look good!” I know they all mean well, so I smile and say, “Thank you.” And then I say a prayer that they will never experience the pain I live with, because if they do those words will haunt them. I was a nurse for twenty years before I had to stop working after my fourth spinal surgery within two years. I remember rolling my eyes about “drug-seeking, chronic back pain, disabled patients”. Other nurses have actually said to me, “Suck it up and come back to work. We all have back pain.” We were in church at the time. Some words wound too deeply to ever be forgotten, no matter how hard we try.
    Angie´s last blog post ..The Feel-Good Week

    • mamasick says:

      Aren’t nurses supposed to be sympathetic? I remember I had a stage 3 tear after having my baby, stage 4 being the worst. When I asked the nurse if I could have more pain medication she said, “I’ve never known anyone that’s had a baby that complains as much as you”! I hope you are able to get proper pain management at least.

  10. Pingback: Chronic Friday Linkup 21 - Being Fibro Mom

  11. One of my past doctors said there was no way I could be experiencing a high level of pain because I would be crying if I were. I hate the pain scale. It varies person to person. What could be my five would be different to someone else. Ugh! So aggravating!

    • mamasick says:

      We do indeed develop a tolerance for pain, Brandi. Sometimes even though your pain level is high there are some things you HAVE to do, like caring for your children.

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