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

  • aYe

    Bless your heart! I am a Germinoma cancer survivor and have had multiple medical issues as “leftovers” from the cancer since then. (A Germinoma is a germ cell tumor that they discovered in my brain.) When I had been in remission for 11 years, (2013) I got two very bad colds, back to back, that lasted for about 5 months. I had two anaphylactic reactions to Robitussin and Sudafed, which were two cold medicines I’d taken all of my life. I looked on the packages and realized the only medicine that the two shared was Phenylephrine. A little over a month after this happened, the lymph node under my right arm became very swollen. Fast forwarding to April of 2015, I was having severe muscle spasms in my back that were musculo-skeletal related. I had been to see a Chiropractor the week prior to and he had worked with me for 4 hours (I had been experiencing severe muscle spasm in my back) and said that whatever was wrong with me–it was not related to my spine and he thought it was musculo-skeletal. My neuro-oncologist, who had handled my cancer before thought it had come back in my spine. After a week in Duke Hospital with a 3 hour MRI, a lumbar puncture, and multiple physical tests they began to kick around the idea that what I had was Fibromyalgia. Their suspicions were confirmed after I had a nerve study test done. It took 28 different doctors to diagnose me.
    Prior to them discovering I had cancer, however, I was in your shoes. The Physician’s Assistant I was seeing told me I was having migraines the first time I saw him and prescribed me some Ibuprofen 300. Less than a week later we were back in his office and he was furious that we didn’t like his diagnosis. He took my dad out in the hallway and told him that I was just wining about my headaches to get attention and that if my parents ignored my headaches, they would go away. At the time, my pupils were so naturally dilated from the pressure of the brain tumor, that you could no longer see the Iris of my eyes. Three months of this routine, my parents finally worked around him and scheduled a CT scan at the local hospital and that’s when they discovered the massive tumor in my brain. When I checked into Duke Hospital the next day, the Neurologist on call said that the tumor was so massive, she had no idea how I was still alive, much less still conscious. Believe me when I say, I know what it is like to be bullied by doctors.
    My advice to you would be to seek other medical care. I currently live in a rotten area for health care and know how frustrating it can be to be taken seriously. Go on the Internet and do a little research: are there any hospitals in your area that specialize in chronic and widespread pain? Are there any in your state? This may sound extreme, but you look outside your state. Have they explored Hormonal therapies for you? Standard birth control in various forms help many women who have difficult periods as I do. You may have to spend some time working with a valid doctor to find which one works best for you, but it’s better than not having any options. My hormones are so insane and give me such awful menstrual cycles that birth control is a life saver for me!
    Also, look into chronic pain management locations or hospitals that can help you with medicines or exercises to help manage and refocus your pain. DO NOT continue to see that same doctor! My guess is that all he wants it your money. While you are looking, there are also many website you can Google or use any search engine to help you find exercises to help. Also, shortly heating dampened washcloths in the microwave and applying them to your sore areas and taking as hot of a bath as you can stand will help in relieving the pain to where you can learn to work around it. Ice packs work for some people too, but not me!
    If you can’t find a hospital that you can travel to–you can call and consult with doctors at other hospitals. If you’re in New York and you find a hospital in Florida that you think would be great for you–that is not practical. But you can call and tell someone what your situation is and ask what you should do. Having an undiagnosed issue that no one understands is the worst and I wish you the best of luck in finding a solution!

  • Crz

    ‘Keep a food journal, write down everything you eat.” I can’t even count the number of people who’ve suggested this. so tired of hearing it.

  • Lisa Jones

    Hi! Trisha, your post says it was four months ago. I wondered if has helped you. Thought I’d ask before diving into it and buying the book, etc. Please let me know. Thanks, Lisa Jones

  • kim

    I am at my wits end and looking for maybe someone who can help me in regards to my health, ive always had painful cycles etc, but over the last year they have gotten worse and two cycles a month extreme pain to the point where id take four days off work every month for a year, and this obviously became a problem. for the last 3 months ive been bleeding daily ,extreme pain,worse than labour at times so ive had every test,biopsy,leep procedure, pre cancer cells ,colposcopy, and laprascopy, I have endometriosis , and now fibroids again as well as cysts again, I know I’m going to end up needing and to be honest wanting a hysterectomy. I’m so scared ,as all I have in this world is my daughter age 12, my family doctor has been extremely mean and threatening to me, because I have mental health issues and am prescribed medication for those issues Tuesday he said you are taking this,this,this etc,your medication is making you mental, he says if your in pain go buy Tylenol ,suck it up, why you in pain anyways, you are going to loose your daughter now because I got prescribed Percocet, in emergency I was prescribed ten a day, he gave me two a day and said make them last because you are not getting anymore, I just had all these procedures done etc and I feel like no one will help me feel better, I just want to be ok, and not in agony daily all the while trying to fake it to my daughter ,act like I’m ok, and I’m not. does anyone have any advice , because I feel like I’m being bullied in a sense, and no one will help me, I cant take it anymore

  • Sandra Lee

    Some people think they know everything! Not only do we lupies have to deal with our illness, we have to deal with so many ignorant people! It sucks.

  • dawnamber

    Sister sent a text message to someone a few months ago, but I got it instead (accidentally?) saying how worthless I am . . . “She can’t be THAT sick, can she?” I have fibromyalgia. Going to town or out visiting just for one day causes me to have to shut down to recoup for at least two days.

  • DamnItStarfish

    For me its mostly just people finding nice ways to say: “It’s all in your head”…I suppose some of is, but not in the way they mean.

  • Lisa Lier

    I have FMS, Crowns Disease, Hypothyroidism, GERD, and Mild chronic nonspecific liver disease… I think I do pretty well considering all of it…

    My current favorite is one told to me .. “You just need to eat better and POWER THROUGH IT”. Juse what does that mean?

    Between the Crohns and GERD I have certain limitations of foods, and she says “eat healthy and POWER through it!?!?!


  • CT Surg Love

    It may not seem like it, but I think that she was trying to help…? Some people just don’t know proper etiquette when it comes to those things.

  • CT Surg Love

    Gluten intolerance tests can easily be taken by testing your cilia and with a variety of allergy tests. It’s not a “theory”, and people who don’t have the allergy to gluten or funky cilia shouldn’t go around trying to pretend to have those things. That’s so silly. Who would WANT to fake another person’s allergy or cilia disorder? People are so nutty….I swear…

  • CT Surg Love

    🙁 Hang in there! It’s better to accept your situation and find the happy/more uplifting spaces within it. Redefine “coping” to suit your particular situation and needs. You will peace that way…. it’s what I do.

  • Bowman, Catherine

    My situation is a little bit lame sunce I am a nurse snd so are my co-workers. Thanks for the supprt, sll of you

  • Cheryl Youmans-Rusaw

    Lol, good comeback Catherine!

  • Cheryl Youmans-Rusaw

    Gluten intolerance, ha! My husbands’ aunt tells me I should cut gluten out of my diet, and I would magically get better. She also keeps pushing me to see her naturopath. Since she’s always complaining about yet another ailment why on earth would I do that?

  • Trisha Brasher

    I agree with so many of the “just try _____ it will cure your _______” comments, that they are so annoying!! I realize that family and friends have good (but often thoughtless) intentions….but as one who has suffered from fibromyalgia for 20 years ( the last 10 on very strong narcotic pain meds, a dead end by the way) and also a (former) Registered Nurse….don’t you think that if someone truly found a “cure” for fibromyalgia, I would already know about it through the several reputable FM organizations and support groups I keep up with??
    The latest well-intentioned friend just told me that his chiropractor said “fibromyalgia is caused by Forward Head Position, a subluxation of the C-1 thru C-4 vertebrae (top of the neck) which puts strain on the dorsal horns and reduces endorphins ( as this is where they are produced). So realigning the neck fixes this and allows the natural pain mechanism in the body to work.” Huh??? Fibromyalgia is MUCH more complicated than that, involving lack of deep, restorative sleep, low neurotransmitters, stressed out adrenal glands, maybe thyroid imbalance, increased substance P, and a host of other imbalances….but those are the main ones I can think of right now.
    I just started a program with Dr. Rodger Murphree, a functional medicine doc who has specialized in FM and CFS for 18 years and has helped 2600+ people feel better and get their lives back. May be my last hope, and I am a former RN and researched his program, and think it is sound scientifically and makes sense. He wrote the book “Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and CFS” 5th edition….his website is I encourage those with fibromyalgia and CFS to check him out and see if what he does makes sense to you. lots of free info, videos and especially the actual patient testimonials. God bless you all in your journey to better health, and may no one ever say to you again, “you look fine, it must be all in your head… you are lazy and seek attention”!!!!! Thems fightin’ words!!!

  • Kat_quinzel

    My boss has recently declared she will cure my fibro, Ibs and constant headaches by making me eat healthily – I didn’t like to point out that 1. I’m a veggi so already eat healthy, 2. I am not overweight and have been eating healthy since before this happened to me and 3. She can’t MAKE me do anything!! I still laugh every time she tells me she can cure me though a lot of my colleagues are starting to get a bit upset about her attitude!

  • Wayne Farini

    Properly diagnosed by hospital consultant and yet people still dont believe i am ill keep saying you look ever so well,idiots have they heard of makeup it hides a multitude of sins.People say i handle things well as i am suffering fibromyalgia ibs and husband blindalso has ms epilepsy osteoperosis testosterone deficiency. Thing is i am not coping well,Little do they know i am not coping at all.And idiot comments from family and supposed friends doesn’t help in the slightest. Julie&wayne

  • Hermione

    I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and bursitis in my hip, knee, and ankle on both legs, as well as a never ending headache that spikes into migraines, all of these are invisible and my family thinks that I am just really lazy, and I am constantly being told that it is all in my head!

  • greenrobin

    the favorite on my campus: it’s the gluten. if i would only stop using gluten, all would be well. except i’m not gluten sensitive. and it didn’t help. i just craved pasta!

  • aee77

    This is my favorite response. For 2 reasons. 1) It brings to light that this happens…To all of us. 2. Most of us, over the course of our lives, have been on both sides of this. I propose that if we all tried being honest and explaining in clear terms why it bothers us we would get far more out if it. Those who didn’t know what they were doing, but are open to hearing and understanding – will be sincerely sorry and learn from it. Those who were purposely trying to be rude and judgmental will remain that way and then you will know those people aren’t worth your time.

  • Jill Renee Evans

    My favorite is one my ex used to say every time I said I wasn’t able to go out anywhere or hang out at his house. “Just do it, it won’t hurt you..what’s the worst that could happen? If you REALLY wanted to see me you would just do it.” My background is I have Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglipathy (Or easier on the tongue: Autonomic Neuropathy). The worst that could happen is if I push myself overboard is death because my heart could go into a deadly arrhythmia. So I ended up laughing in reply when he kept saying it to me. I don’t think I need to say why he’s an ex!


    I had a girl that came up to me a couple of weeks ago and said”Hi, I am ______. I am the one that come to work.” This was said to me after I had dad3 flare ups in 3 months. I now have my answer if she tries it again. It will require me to stand up to her and quietly say”Hi, I am _____ and I have lupus. Can we please get back to work now?”

  • Ellory Glenn

    My favorite is it’s all in your mind

  • Mina Berd

    Even my (now ex-) husband thought that about me… “Nothing wrong, just lazy, looking for attention”. He used to ask me how many invitations I wanted him to send out for my “pity party”.

  • 30pounds

    “You just have to push through it” (the EDS that accompanies narcolepsy.) Another favorite, “it’s probably just (insert weird nerve issue here.)” And, my #1 favorite, overheard from a family member, “There’s nothing wrong with her, she’s just lazy and looking for attention.”

  • demi

    I am a 19 years old girl with a heart disease wich you can’t see. The most common stupid question i hear when i say whats wrong with my heart is: shouldn’t you be dead?
    Wellyeah, since i am still alive i don’t think so, do you?

    Thanks man for thinking i had to be dead!

  • Larry

    #NSA is watching you.

  • Heather Adams

    I’m afraid I totally understand what you mean, Laurenb. My “guy” started ignoring my screaming awhile ago, because he’s “too empathic” – so, I moved out of my own apartment to help him to be more comfortable. I’ve been living next door to my own place for 2 years now. A couple of weeks ago, I helped a cat who was drowning in a partially drained pool it fell into, but in the process, I fell in too. I was only next door, outside – in the yard of our next door’s empty house – and I screamed for 45 minutes..was starting to lose my voice completely when neighbor from ACROSS THE STREET heard me and figured out where I was – he help me to get out by handing me a pole and helping me to pull myself out , because the bottom of the pool was too slippery with alge for me to even stand (why the kitty was stuck and drowning) – My guy’ s reaction was that clearly I “wasn’t normal” for behaving the way I did. When I told him how long I screamed for him ..his reaction was – “oh” ..and that was it. It was like one of my biggest fears had been realized; that I would need help, be screaming, and be ignored. You mentioned the bone scraping pain, which was what resonated with me. Along with other chronic pain issues, I have had severe TMJ for years , to the degree of destroying my right side ball- socket joint completely. So, that bone on bone pain happens every time I try to move my mouth. I just wanted you know that I think I get it, and I’m so sorry.

  • Jesse L. Cairns

    Stage IV B-cell lymphoma here. The worst/most hilarious one that I’ve gotten to hear so far has been, “There’s this great asparagus diet/cleanse that works wonders for people with poor health. Have you tried it yet?”

    What makes this especially hilarious is:

    1) I can’t stand asparagus. At all. As in, I throw up every single time I try eating it, so I no longer bother, and…

    2) The very previous week, I had said to my wife, “At least nobody has suggested some kind of crackpot asparagus cleanse.”

    I swear sometimes somebody is looking over my shoulder and taking notes.

  • Eryn Kahler

    I had to quit my job at the start of the new year after several additional chronic illness diagnosis on top of having CRPS for 18 years. I was already barely surviving my job as it was and then finding out I had 3 more was just more than I could handle. When I told my boss, and gave my notice, she looked them all up on the computer that day and asked me, How I’ve lived as long as I have? Nice Right. I thought that it was over at that point. But oh how wrong I was. She came to me a week later after she had a doctors appointment and told me that she spoke to her doctor about my conditions, and they are not as bad as everyone makes chronic pain diseases out to be. Cause her “Doctor” told her so, and she gave me his name and said he could cure me in a week. Seriously, if there was a doctor in the world who could completely, 100% cure a patient of Fibromyalgia in 1 week, I sure as heck do not think he would be living and working in Anchorage, Alaska. I told her thanks, and Yeah I’d be sure to call him. Because he told her I just need to do everything all my other doctors have been telling me not to do for years. And I’ll be all better really fast. Sure!!

  • Terri

    “You should try these essential oils …they’ll cure your pain, fatigue, acne, and bad breath too!”

  • Dawn Hill

    The worst thing that ever happened to me was some, what I thought was a friend said: “what do you think you did that God did this to you?”. I flipped my gourd, and firmly told her I don’t know what God she believes in, but the God I believe in doesn’t think this way….”

  • Lori Schneider

    The worst one for me is: you need to try yoga/tai chi/current trendy exercise fad.
    My issues get worse with exercise. Shipping in a grocery store us a workout from hell for me. And I was a competitive weight lifter, personal trainer, rock climber and cop. Tell me that I need to exercise to cure all I have wrong with me – that’s it. I’m never speaking to you again.

  • Jocelyn M. Ellis

    I think the worst thing is that people who do care but are clueless unwittingly say thoughtless things and because you know they didn’t mean it that way, you hide your anger and hurt, because they wouldn’t understand.

  • learning to thrive

    I have bone marrow failure which is life threatening. It has an significant autoimmune influence and survival rates are highly variable. Some can live for several years with medications, others through transplant. Transplant is potentially curative but the reality is complications can occur that can be dehabilitive and or life threatening. Comparable to cancer. I get the try______insert supplement. But the number one thing I hear is Robin Roberts survied breast cancer and one marrow failure therefore you will be fine just believe. The number one heart wrench comes from statement like so n so has cancer and they work therefore I resent people like you who are capable of finding work and paying for your own insurance. I resent being forced to pay for your obama care subsidy.

  • Laurenb

    It would be great if they understood that we are living life the best we can. I am thankful my family does. I only have a brother and a sister and several nieces and nephews. I do have another brother but he disowned us all for a really stupid reason.

  • Laurenb

    OMG, that is terrible. I cannot believe someone would be that cruel.

  • Laurenb

    Andrea, now I am scared. I just found out I have Diabetes in January. I’ve lost 36 lbs. I’m hoping taking the weight off my joints will help. I’ve had spinal steroid injections also. Just had them about 16 days ago. They help a little but the pain always comes back. I believe I understand the pain you are in now because the ligaments that were between two of my thumb joints disappeared. It was bone rubbing against bone. That was the worst pain I have ever had. Every time they rubbed against each other I screamed. It got to the point that my family quit coming to check on me. Mom just screamed again. I was afraid if I fell they wouldn’t come. I fell asleep on a bar stool and fell off it. My son was in his room watching tv and he heard it and came running. But then he got angry with me a few days later when I was going to bed and screaming in pain until I got in a comfortable position. I was keeping his girlfriend awake. Seriously. He said that to me. I was told my the Dr. in the ER that bruised ribs were worse than broken ribs. I think it took me 3 mos. to heal from that fall. My biggest fear is falling because of weak hands that can’t break the fall, bad knees and a bad back.

  • Andrea

    Haha! I was told by numerous family members that it was my own fault because of my weight (that I’d gained from lack of mobility, spinal steroid injections, medication side effects etc., etc.).
    So I worked really hard, lost 11st and my chronic pain got worse the more I lost!
    It turned out that the fat had been cushioning my joints, and now it wasn’t there my spine had no buffer. Its a vicious circle as I’m now fighting daily to keep the weight off but am on MORE medication, MORE steroid injections and I’m less mobile.

    Great idea ‘supportive’ family. Thanks!

  • Rhonda

    I have had Palmoplantar psoriasis for 40 plus years. I will never forget the day a close family member told me if I would just live a better life,that my health problems would clear right up…. Ten years later, I am still fighting the health problems. I figure the day I die, everything will be OK.

  • Karen

    When I was diagnosed with my illness a family member gave me a book (I forget the exact title since I promptly tossed it in the trash) on how to welcome death without fear. Gee Thanks. There’s the support I was looking for.

  • Lynn Allan

    “Oh I know exactly how you felt. I just changed my diet and suddenly I had all this energy. Maybe it would work for you?”

  • CodyCat

    Your co-worker is lucky to have you as a colleague. You sound like someone who truly understands. But boy, that other co-worker sounds so familiar. It’s sad, isn’t it?

  • CodyCat

    My least favorite thing people say to me is, “Gee, I have a friend with fibromyalgia, and it hasn’t changed HER life.” People who understand FM know that the condition can range from a few minor symptoms to needing a wheelchair, becoming bedridden, or not being able to work at all. I’m somewhere in between, but to those people who “know someone who never acts sick,” I’m just a big baby. It always struck me as odd that people I had worked with for over 10 years, where I always gave more than 100%, was involved in everything, was always cheerful, and never complained, would suddenly consider me a malinger because I didn’t “look sick.” It took me a long time to recuperate from the rejection I experienced at my job. But then I started working from home, and it’s been the best silver lining on my cloud ever since!

  • BrizeeGyrl

    I get frustrated with the constant questions from the same people… My family and or friends. Geez, if you have not understood what I’ve been telling you for the past 20 years… GOOGLE IT!!!
    I’m just ranting here… Don’t bring out the pitchforks…

  • disqus_4Fw8t5kzKY

    I work with someone who has several chronic conditions. Another co-worker has repeatedly told her that her doctor “is probably causing your problems” by “over-prescribing medication.” She also nags her to go out with her “because you need to get out.” Never mind that the sick person has all she can do to just come in to work every day and do her job; and often goes to bed by 8 or 9 pm.

  • Ron ‘n Loni Oliver

    I have a chronic illness and don’t find people to be very sympathetic or understanding, but I don’t see what’s wrong with some of these questions. If someone is not familiar with your disease, they might be looking for enlightenment (“…what is causing the problem?” seems like a logical place to start). Some of the suggestions are logical because some sick people are not at all proactive–just go to the doc and swallow whatever pills prescribed without making lifestyle adjustments. But, sometimes I feel like I’m being blamed for not doing all I can or that I’m a hypochondriac.

  • Kblackwelder

    “Maybe if you didn’t nap during the day you would sleep better at night”. Ummmmm, no, but thanks!

  • BrizeeGyrl

    Wow,OMG, … I guess people really do say the dumbest things…I thought that it was children but Who am I? Just someone who was born with Sickle Cell and is affected by it on a daily basis…

  • Julie King

    “Here’s a little book that has helped me with all my physical ailments and I know it will help you too.”
    “Please join the Plato Society. It’s wonderful discussions on great subjects and it would get you out because you’d love it. Only meets twice a week”, lol.