Sick Humor: The top ten worst suggestions commonly given to someone with a chronic illness


Sometimes you just gotta have a sense of humor!

The top ten worst suggestions commonly given to someone with a chronic illness:
1)Have you tried holistic options? (many. I’ll bring it back up with my doctor on my next visit, thanks.)
2) Could it be your stress? (My opinion is, it is my illness. I’ll bring it up with my doctor though, thanks.)
3) Could it have to do with the altitude? (I’ll bring it up with my doctor…thanks.)
4) I read in {insert any generic magazine here} about a new medication. Have you heard about it? (I was on it when it came out 17 years ago. but I’ll bring it up with my doctor. thank you.)
5) Have you thought about being in a trial study? (I’ll ask my doctor. thanks?)
6) WOW. If I were you, I don’t know what I would do. I might just kill myself. (Thanks?)
7) Have they found what is causing the problem? (no. my doctor is an idiot. I’ll remind him, thanks!)
8) Have you tried hypnosis? (I’m still sick, but when the phone rings I bark like a dog.)
9) Have you googled your illness? (….no! thanks!)
10 Have you ever thought you were getting sick because you haven’t wrapped your house in aluminum foil because, you know, the aliens have been bugging our houses for the past 30 years and in some cases, making people really sick. I read on…..gee I lost the web site. but it’s true! I heard it from Sally’s cousin’s sister-in- law. And then every time you use deodorant you would think you would be warding off these bugging rays, but it still makes it worse, so you are not being pro-active to your health by wearing that deodorant. I can’t believe you! If you wanted to get better you would stop wearing deodorant..(voice gets fainter and fainter the further you just walk away.) THANKS!!!!!!!!!!
Article written by Amy-Beth Maran , © 2007

  • shawski7

    I have RA, Sjogren’s, Psoriatric Arthritis, Lupus, Reynaud’s, and Fibromyalgia. I am in pain 24/7 as I’m sure you can all relate. Plus my son was hit by a drunk driver almost two years ago and suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI. He is total care and I am his primary caregiver. I have some help, someone comes in for 3 hrs, three days a week. The problem is, I am still grieving. Everyone around me tells me I should be handling things better by now. I don’t think there is a timetable for grief. I also don’t know how much is the illness and how much is me. Does it even matter? Why can’t they just accept me for the way I am? I’m exhausted all the time, which I was before. I hurt all the time, I did before. The big difference now is that I’m extremely sad. Who wouldn’t be? I feel unsupported and lost. I’ve been diagnosed for over 8 years now. My pain doc just gave me a book called Wheat Belly. He thinks getting wheat out of the diet will fix everything.

  • MillaLouise

    Try searching

  • Heather Kubke

    Hi everyone I am looking for a group for teens living with chronic pain for my young teen son. Does anyone know of something like this on the net?

  • Jamey

    10 years I’ve been diagnosed and my mother and father still say ” we are worried you are depressed because you are in bed a lot” or ” eating gluten is the problem with you!” Apparantly this cures lupus because they read it somewhere 😉

  • Zeka Jones

    When my husband was preparing to have a spinal cord tumor removed (from which he now has terrible chronic pain day and night), I was shocked when a friend told me he should “take many hot salt baths and if we were very positive, maybe when he got to the operating room, the doctor would find that the tumor had vanished or greatly shrunk and the surgery would be unnecessary.” I had no idea people could be so naive and delusional! We have also had most of the 10 suggestions, as well as the constant accupuncture, “just be positive” and other vacuous suggestions. All mean well but I can’t help but feel irritated at times. What part of “spinal cord tumor” is so hard to understand? It is not something you can wish away!

  • drmom5

    I know several chiaris. Never a person with syringomyelia.

  • drmom5

    Esp. nutrasweet! I just was nagging a guy tonight about getting off it. He has constant headaches.

  • drmom5

    Starting in the 80s, studies came out that showed a 30% reduction in frequency and duration among migraineurs who took 3 grams of fish oil in divided doses daily. Just don’t take it on an empty stomach, lest you burp it!

  • drmom5

    Or mitochondrial disorder.,

  • drmom5

    There was a child with CP who was told that if mommy prayed hard enough, she would be healed.

  • drmom5

    I’m waiting for something that doesn’t make me high. I have mito.

  • drmom5

    Cannibinoids are popping up in PubMed every week now for their therapeutic effects. Many times a plant was known to be a treatment and it took decades for them to isolate the active ingredients.

  • drmom5

    They DID prove that talc in the panties can cause ovarian cancer!

  • drmom5

    Neurologists aren’t the biggest assholes in the medical profession. Pediatric neurologists are! 🙂

  • Kyra Zandberg

    I posted this above, but it’s too big not to share again. This is brand new. I am a bit jealous, since I have CFIDS not fibro. You guys now have a real diagnostic tool!

  • Kyra Zandberg
  • Kyra Zandberg

    I couldn’t disagree more. I have been chronically ill for decades with a “mystery illness” (CFIDS). I treasure anyone interested in my welfare enough to want to offer suggestions, moral support for my choices, no matter how out of the box.
    One never knows when someone will know of a new or old cure. My friend’s suggestion that I try acupuncture healed my radiation burns after the conventional medical experts at my very good cancer center admitted they had no idea what to do.
    Doctors are not gods. I remember when doctors told pregnant women to drink and smoke. I have too many friends and family in the health care industry to trust anyone’s opinion without doing my own research. So if you are lucky enough to have a doctor who is all knowing, more power to you. Good luck with that.

  • drmom5

    Disagree. Your doctor’s likely an idiot. Most of my doctors were idiots. Question everything. Stop relying on an authority figure’s limited knowledge. Frankly, I just don’t have anything to say to anyone who’s such a sheep she wouldn’t do her own research!

  • Suzi More

    Yes, this is the truth and I have heard it all.

  • Nadia

    I live in England. We sure as hell DO believe in fucking migraines! I must have been so lucky with my doctors…

  • nettywinning

    The bitch is we put so much ‘effort’ into our lives, have so much to give and get frustrated, depressed, pissed and see our days down as wasted days never to return. So the advice to put our mind to it, etc; well that just makes it worse because we are trapped creative souls and all the great ones who have the answers just add fuel to the fire. I have cut my list of people in my circle to dump the stress they were causing me, which causes flares. 3 invisible diseases (except for the steriod swell of course) and being a life coach I cannot tell them what I would like to, but being a life coach Tony has taught me that I am bigger than anything put in front of me. I believe it as I have a very full and active life, I live hard and play hard and I take care of myself when needed. I was receiving advice and popped a screw in my head telling this person my problem was highly contagious. Quickest way to get rid of a not cool conversationalist. I WILL say one thing about the ‘you don’t look sick’ comment; we must do a great job of hiding the things we feel and stuff (the butterfly) you can see. All of us Lupus folks know we look rough alot so if someone doesn’t see how sick I am cool.

  • Szrgirl

    I had a severe traumatic brain injury in a 1996 car accident that also caused epilepsy. I feel fortunate in that I know where why I have the deficits I have as well as what caused my epilepsy. Most people with epilepsy just develop it without a reason. I’ve had many of the items noted in the list above. I’ve had doctors tell me “everyone has poor memory sometimes.” Duh. I doubt everyone has cooked dinner and promptly lost it because they missed seeing it wrapped and in the fridge til three days later.

    I even had a coworker with the good grace to tell me my seizures could be demons and invited me to his fundamentalist church for their weekly “healing night”. I was stunned into silence and said nothing at the time. I thought that way of thinking died out or was contained within the ‘no-medical treatment’ churches where the congregants’ children are dying from lack of treatable disorders. Yeah, the three brain surgeries, 14 medications, and Vagus Nerve Stimulator did nothing to help rid me of seizures. My doctors must be quacks. All I need is your fundamentalist nutjob to lay his hands on me and *poof!* all better.

    I posted one of my seizures on youtube in his honor — an inpatient test they did to pinpoint the location of my seizures for my second resection. His apology was “I’m sorry you took it the wrong way.” I didn’t accept it. “You’re apologizing for my reaction, not for saying such ignorant, misinformed, arrogant nonsense.” Everyone tells me I should forgive him. I refuse. He doesn’t get it. He thinks he does, but he never will. I see it as willful stupidity.

  • MillaLouise

    I have Ehlers-Danlos, and people tell me all the time, “Just don’t subluxate (partially dislocate) your joints so much.” Another favorite is, “Why are you strengthening your neck? The muscles there are only for holding up your head.” I can hardly hold up my head and some days I can’t even do that and am bed-bound for the day.

  • Mary Roach

    My son-in-law suffers from migraines and other types of headaches, and his head hurts every day. It colors everything he does. He can’t afford to go to a doctor and get helps, so he just suffers and struggles. I feel for you, and I hope you get the relief you need. Sending you big hugs.

  • Deborah Ackerman

    Just what i needed today…lol! The weather is cold…and it is sleeting lightly and my Fibro is fighting me like a heavyweight boxer….Grrrr….so I’m gonna pamper myself…lay down, take my meds and watch a funny movie….love this site….so helpful for us that suffer! Thanks!

  • FunkyFibromite007

    Nobody is mocking anything. This was meant to be a humorous post. As far as homeopathic remedies, diet changes, etc are concerned, some are helped by them, some are not. Same with prescription medications. Some people are helped by them, some are not. The fact is, we are all struggling to find answers, to find help, to find someone to just listen to us and try to understand. When you find a support group out there, other people who truly know what you are going through, that helps tremendously. When you find one person on that site who feels the need to make snarky comments and claim that ANYONE who’s going through this hasn’t “done her research” (seeing as how we’ve all spent hours, days, YEARS researching and looking for answers), it can make someone like me, who has a typically sunny disposition, want to scream. However, in the spirit of generosity, I will simply say that maybe you need to be a bit more supportive and a bit less snarky in the midst of this SUPPORT system. 🙂

  • sickofdangdoctors

    Don’t you wish HE had them?

  • JenKirby

    I’ve been reading the comments and have been between laughing and crying at what you all have to put up with. I am lucky that my disability is visible as it is post polio syndrome and I have a moderate to severe limp. But it has been mistaken for being drunk before now. It’s so irritating when a young man tuts at you!
    I have come up with some funny replies to fend off the people with pet cures. I told my friend who won’t eat “acid” foods, that my system is so alkaline that I have to eat oranges to counteract it. When a woman said I would be cured with magnetic bracelets, I told her I had a reverse magnetic field and it would make me worse, and she believed me!

  • Whitney

    HILARIOUS!! Oh, I needed that laugh desperately. Thank you so much Amy-Beth, you’re a treasure!!

  • singingpatient


  • singingpatient

    Great minds think alike! 10 annoying things to say to someone who’s just been diagnosed:

  • singingpatient

    i think it’s because they aren’t capable of saying “i don’t know.” So instead, they say it doesn’t exist.

  • singingpatient

    clueless people are sincerely irriratating.
    I have nto heard of meat causing headaches, but there are certain foods that will give me headaches, and i mean migraines with the light auras and all- and it’s usually nutrasweet (aspartame/ equal) or MSG. FWIW, those are 2 foods we with autoimmune stuff should all avoid.

  • singingpatient

    ew. reminds me of the church people who laid hands on me. then when i didn’t get well, they called me a “faith failure.” lovely.

  • Adore313

    I agree, I’ve seen it provide lots of relief to many as a hospice and pain management nurse myself. We’ve even done studies on it. But for me, my lungs, liver, and kidneys are compromised with my polymyositis that it can’t handle anything extra to break down. I just thought it was so cute all the people coming out of the woodwork offering me to smoke marijuana, the gummies, etc. lol. I’m like, “I’m cool with that, guys, but I can’t!”

  • Kelli A Ellis

    Actually, I know a gew fibromite who are halfed my.marijuana.. I am one of them

  • Kelli A Ellis

    Love it! Thanks for the smile and good cheer.

  • Chrissy

    I’m a spoonie and usually, I really like the articles shown on here.. except for this one.

    Stress and diet has been proven to cause certain illnesses. It may not contribute to your illness in particular, but it does lead to several of them out there. Check out these articles:

    Homeopathic/holistic remedies may not be for everyone, but it does help some of the spoonies out there. In my case, some of the homeopathic remedies that I have used work better than the medications my doctor had me on. Not to mention cheaper and with NO side effects. I understand that everyone may not be willing to try it, but to outright mock it is pretty low.

    In regards to the deodorant/antiperspirant thing, it’s due to the chemical ingredients within the product. There is conflicting evidence as to whether it causes cancer or not. Being that it hasn’t been completely proven safe, some people (especially those with autoimmune diseases) would rather steer clear of it.

    It might be helpful for the author to actually do a bit of research on something before mocking it. =)

  • PKM

    I began struggling with debilitating migraines when I was about 21. An emergency room doctor told my best friend, who had came by to pick me up, that I didn’t really have migraines, that I was looking for drugs and in his country (England) they didn’t believe in migraines. I’m now 56 and my friend still believes what the doc (quack) told her.

  • SexWith ADifference

    Thanks for starting my day with a chuckle! A friend recently shared the Spoon Theory with me which is how I came across this site. I have multiple invisible conditions. I sent the Spoon Theory with a cover note to my sister last night as she recently informed me that “if I only put in more effort in my life I might surprise myself at how much I could achieve”…that I “seemed to have convinced myself I had these conditions” and I just needed to “have a more positive attitude”……Just because someone is a blood relative does not mean they will understand you or your life. Here’s why – I do many things on a voluntary basis according to the ebb and flow of my health: Trained Peer Supporter for newly Disabled people; Parent Carer Rep for local Carers Forum; Social Secretary for local Residents Association (I may not get out much BUT that doesn’t stop others coming to me!); run free Sex & Disability Discussion groups locally. I am also writing a book and setting up a Social Enterprise on that same subject in the hope that I can earn my own living at some point in the future. Ditto for the part time Open University Course in Psychology I have just started. This is alongside acting as Interpreter for my teenage Aspie son and training up two Assistance Dogs (one for me/one for him), aiming to pass all our Awarding Body exams so they can be licensed for access all areas. Yes there are times (sometimes long periods of time) when I struggle to cope with pain levels etc……but I think my attitude is positively fine, whatever others may think (including aforementioned sister!!) pmsl! Keep on keeping on people. Psychic hugs xx

  • Adore313

    You forgot this one: “You should smoke marijuana. It’s natural, you know…”

  • what fresh hell is this?

    the therapist i saw (to talk me out of the ever-appealing shortcut: auto-assassiner) instructed me to meditate and visualize the blessings the universe was bestowing upon me; this would even drastically improve my health. when i explained that i had tried that already–a lot–and while it was sometimes pleasant and refreshing, it didn’t have a lasting effect on my mood, let alone my physical ailments. she kindly explained that if that was the case, i was “doing it wrong.”

    okay, i said, let’s give it a shot, and this time i’ll be sure to visualize meditate correctly–one more time, with feeling. and extra gratitude. i did try; i wanted to make an honest effort just in case it might help me.

    and whilst thusly engaged, someone broke into my car. hey thanks, universe! right back atcha! i did not return to that therapist. she probably would’ve tried to talk me into making a vision board. *shudder*

  • Eli

    Don´t quit. I took me 4 years (and 3 jobs) to get diagnosed, and even my family told me i was making it up. Eventually I paid a private doctor, and got diagnosed with MS. Having a name for it really helps, but still are people who don´t want to understand.

  • blackdog

    I was once told by a doctor that I saw my symptoms as worse than they are!

  • Laura Edna Lacey

    You make a good point, Jennifer Luna. I’m realizing i need to be more compassionate and forgiving to people who don’t understand what i’m going through, and say dumb things. Often, their hearts are in the right place. But it frustrates me that they won’t take the time to ask questions and really try to understand –but just judge that my situation is because of my failure somehow. They assume that i’m not thinking right, eating right, exercising right, praying right, don’t love myself enough, etc –and underneath all the suggestions is the often unconscious assumption that i’m sick and they’re not because they are mentally and emotionally healthier than me, and are making better choices. Or would be making better choices, and getting healthy already, if they had my physical problems. That it’s my fault in some way that i’m sick. So i do get angry. I also struggle daily with a lot of self-doubt, wondering if it is my fault somehow that i’m sick. So that’s part of my anger too –that people push that button with insensitive questions. I’m doing the best i can, every day, with all the difficulties of chronic illness. The physical symptoms are only part of the difficulty. It’s really really hard when i can’t count on even my immediate family to be supportive and caring while i’m dealing with this really hard thing, because they’ve chosen to stay stuck in denial for almost a decade, clinging to the notions that i’m either lazy or delusional, or that it’s my fault i’m not getting better as fast as they think i should (my health is improving, the things i’m doing are working, but it’s slow, taking years, and with setbacks at times, and i can’t give a date for when i’ll be fully healed). Chronic illness is really really lonely –i live alone, and am often too ill to socialize –and as i said, i can’t even count on my own family for support. Friends sympathize and care, but very rarely offer practical help. I’m mostly on my own with this. Except for the Creator. Back to the questions –i try to be compassionate and kind, but it’s hard, and lists like these comfort me because it’s just nice to know that there are other people out there who, like me, live with invisible chronic illness and get frustrated with these kinds of questions. My experience of chronic illness is that the loneliness of people not caring enough to try and understand is one of the hardest things to deal with. Also –you say these people offer their suggestions because they care. But my experience is they offer these suggestions because they care only a little bit –they care enough to offer the first suggestions that come to their minds about what to do about the problems –but it is an extremely rare person who cares enough to just listen to me talk for any amount of time, asking open-ended non-judgemental questions, really trying to understand. It’s the very rare person who respects that i may be a very intelligent person with an average level of emotional spiritual and mental health who is actually doing a pretty good job of dealing with a really really hard physical situation. It’s the very rare person who cares enough to ask “is there something i could do to help you?” And then actually does it. Actually i don’t think i’ve experienced that last one yet. It would be nice.

  • serenityprayer

    My favorite is my boss who told me that if I would just get out and walk every day, then I would feel better. Obviously she has no idea of what I mean when I talk about fatigue. I hope to have a diagnosis soon so that I can say “I have this” and give out information on what it is. I hate having the feeling that people I know are doubting my veracity. I think they’re going to find that I have either Sjogren’s Syndrome or MS.

  • Missy

    I have chronic migraines and I’ve heard everything from “it’s all in your head” to “maybe you should be a vegetarian”. Well, of course it’s all in my head. It’s a frickin’ migraine! Although it does also cause severe nausea, yes, most of the pain is in my head. And I’m not really sure what they think meat has to do with it. I have medication but I am still unable to function several times a month. My boss calls me lazy and my husband gets mad when I won’t wash dishes and cook dinner through the agonizing pain. Everyone thinks that just because they can’t see anything on the outside that there isn’t really anything wrong with me. I would love to have the power to inflict a migraine on co-workers so they could experience just once what I deal with 2-3 times a week.

  • Minimo

    I have IBS and every morning I wake up in pain and feeling nauseous. This lasts most of the day. However I plod on and seem ok. I have had all tests imaginable and tried many docs and meds, but to no avail. I too have heard all the ‘helpful’ advice, like I never had done anything to easy my discomfort. It is horrible to live with this silent disease which is not bad enough to put one to bed or totally out of action. The docs have no interest and one feels they think it is all in the head. I wish I knew what to do!
    This makes me very depressed and it is hard to get up each morning and face the day.

  • Janet

    I have progressive MS and I can relate to the ‘invisibility’ … it sucks! Walking is more and more difficult and I do look drunk – I wish that’s all it was.

  • Nanette

    I’ve just found this blog, through a friend, and I can’t believe so much help! I have a rare and incurable disease of the central spinal cord, causing a lot of nerve pain and balance problems. I walk like a drunk, and didn’t even have the fun of drinking! I look healthy, but so often have to cancel things I planned. Friends who will forgive me are rare but oh so valuable. My disease is Syringomyelia with Chairi malformation. Anyone else out there with this one?