You Might Have a Chronic Illness If . . .

You Might Have a Chronic Illness If . . .

Many people experience generally good health and their concept of being sick means having a cold or perhaps catching the flu every one or two decades. Then there are those of us who live with chronic health issues. Our concept of being sick is multi-faceted and does not just include our bodies, but extends to involving our families, friends, jobs, finances, hobbies, and major life decisions. Although I’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD) for 18 years, I’m often struck by how different my reality is from those of my friends and relatives who don’t have chronic health issues. There are so many small ways that disease pops impacts my life that I’m sure are familiar to other people contending with chronic health issues.

You might have chronic illness if. . .

  • You’ve memorized your pharmacy’s phone number.
  • Your calendar is full of doctor’s appointments.
  • You can easily recite the insurance copay amounts for routine care, specialist appointments, and ER visits.
  • You’ve injected yourself with medication.
  • You have a collection of splints and braces.
  • You’ve met lots of interesting people in doctor’s waiting rooms.
  • Every year, you take out the maximum amount allowed for your medical flexible spending account.
  • You spend the entire annual allocation of said medical flexible spending account by mid-year.
  • You have a definite preference for where blood draws or injections are done on your body.
  • You see specialists more often than primary care providers.
  • Completing a medical history questionnaire requires a lot of time.
  • IV infusion visits are your routine.
  • Your friends and family members get frustrated with how often you have to cancel plans.
  • Light exercise can be a struggle.
  • You use all your allotted sick days.
  • You need extra room on medical forms that ask you to list all current medications.
  • You feel older than your years.
  • People make random suggestions for how to “cure” your medical condition based on something they heard about in passing.
  • You make job decisions based primarily on health care coverage.
  • You consider genetics when deciding whether to have a biological child.
  • You have apps on your phone for tracking medications, symptoms, and procedures.
  • When shopping, you consider the ergonomics of a potential purchase.
  • Pharmacists know you by name.
  • You own a cane or other mobility devices.
  • You buffer in a “rest day” when traveling and upon return from your trip.
  • People say, “But you look so good” when you share your diagnosis.
  • Do any of these sound familiar to you? What else would you add to this list?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (26)
  • Frazzled
    1 day ago

    When bringing your medications through security at the airport means you need a whole separate bag. Fortunately I have never been asked to take out syringes or other injectable meds. But I can’t just take a backpack through the security line anymore.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    22 hours ago

    Yes! The airport security line! Thanks for sharing, Frazzled, as that definitely is a very familiar experience for many of us. All the best, Tamara

  • jkmast1
    5 days ago

    Thanks so much for this fine piece. The first item that came up for me is “You rarely have a beautifully made bed.”

    I am in and out of mine so much (luckily retired) I leave it messy or just do some smoothing out.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    5 days ago

    Yes!!! That definitely belongs on the list. Thanks for sharing, jkmast1, as it does help to know we’re not alone. All the best, Tamara

  • lindajumper
    5 days ago

    Your list can go on endlessly. You really nailed it! Life is certainly lyrics different front ore-autoimmunity! Great article!

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    5 days ago

    Thanks lindajumper! I’m glad you found it helpful, and I appreciate you sharing that. All the best, Tamara

  • Hoppe
    6 days ago

    They keep telling me I have RA, but I have no joint pain. Have an RA Factor over 3,000 am on a RA med. Leflunimide. But

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 days ago

    Hi Hoppe,

    Joint pain is certainly the symptom that most people think of when they think of RA. However, there are additional symptoms. This article includes a list of them (the first half of the article focuses on joint pain, but scroll down to the second half where it discusses other symptoms): https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/symptoms/. While some of these symptoms are less common, fatigue can be a severe and problematic symptom that is very common for people with RA.

    I encourage you to discuss with your labwork and your symptoms (or lack thereof) with your doctor, and if s/he can’t explain it in a way that makes sense to you, you may want to seek a second opinion.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Tamara

  • Jules58
    7 days ago

    Somebody lied to me, I’ve been under the impression that if I can find the right “treatment ” I can slow down or maybe even stop the progression of my RA! I am just like many/most of you, I plan for events and hope to feel good with limited pain and at the very least go out for even just an hour. Thanks to everyone who shares!

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 days ago

    Hi Jules58,

    Well, I won’t say that’s a lie, but it is certainly not a truth for everyone with this disease. Some people find a treatment that works so well that they go into medically-induced RA remission. Others try treatment after treatment after treatment and cannot find anything that seems to help. And most of us are somewhere in the middle.

    During the times when one treatment has stopped being effective and we’ve had to change my treatment plan, I was unable to lead anything approximate to a normal life. However, with treatment I am able to work and parent and have social interactions. That being said, my life is continually interrupted by this disease. I completely understand and share your frustration at the way that this disease can upend one’s life. However, many people have to stay in the trial and error phase of finding treatment that is effective for them for a long time before getting some relief. Unfortunately, there is no one treatment that works well for everyone, and the trial and error method of finding an effective treatment is extremely challenging.

    I do hope that you can find some relief and that hour to go out. I am not in that place right now, but I have been there many, many times, and it is so isolating and discouraging to be at home alone in pain while the rest of the world moves on. Please know how glad we are to have you in this community, and any time you want to share or even just vent, we are here to listen. This is a tough disease, and it is one that few understand.

    Thank you for sharing,
    Tamara

  • tckrd
    7 days ago

    Oh my gosh. Every single statement is exactly Spot on. We just returned from a thanksgiving trip. I did the exact thing, figured in buffer days so I could recuperate.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 days ago

    Thanks for sharing! I hope that the buffer days helped, and that you had a good trip. My Thanksgiving travel led to a flare, but it was worth it to spend some quality time with my family. However, it makes me nervous about Christmas! Wishing you all the best, Tamara

  • Dalia
    7 days ago

    Or your pharmacy and doctors are listed as favorites on your phone and have a drug index app on your phone next to your insurance and pharmacy apps…

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 days ago

    Yes!!!! Thanks for sharing, Dalia!

  • Mantha
    7 days ago

    You hit the nail on the head!! So true!!!

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 days ago

    Thanks for being in our online community, Mantha!

  • Corndog
    7 days ago

    You might have RA if someone sticks their ice cold feet under your knees and you both say “ahhh…”!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    2 days ago

    Heh, I loved this! Thanks @corndog! ~Monica

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 days ago

    Haha! That’s too funny – and spot on!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Tamara. One that pops into my head is that you might have a chronic illness if filling the weekly pill case is part of the weekend plans … and you have more than one. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • jkc
    5 days ago

    Exactly. I have a 28 day pill case.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Yes indeed, the pill case! Thanks Richard!

  • Dalia
    7 days ago

    Yup – I bought 2 weekly ones for AM & PM so I only refill every 2 weeks!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    2 weeks ago

    HAHAHA. Well only about all of them. You might also have a chronic illness if at least one of your cabinets, closets, dresser drawers, or shelves is filled to the brim with medical stuff. At my house it is called Diacrap and Rhuemacrap (I have two full areas). But others might have Chronicrap (ha a new slang word). I love this game.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Yes, the “disease stuff” spaces for the “Chronicrap” (great term)! I can definitely relate to that. Thanks for sharing, Tamara

  • Dalia
    7 days ago

    I’m stealing these!!’

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