“My Disease is Worse than Yours!!!”
Person Number One: I’m having a really hard time. The doctor put me on Prednisone again. This is my second time in two years!
Person Number Two: Big deal! I’ve been on the stuff for two years straight with no sign of getting off of them anytime soon.
Person Number Three: Well, you guys are a couple of wimps! They’ve tried time and again to get me off of Prednisone, and now I have to have surgery!
Yep, this really happens…
This scenario may seem a little extreme, but believe it or not, this kind of thing actually happens in some support groups. A desperate patient joins an online support group looking for hope, answers and encouragement only to be bullied by another patient who “has it worse!”
While it is true that some aren’t as sick as others, they are still facing some very frustrating and painful things. IBD is no picnic. Their degree of suffering shouldn’t matter. You should never downplay another’s pain. Anyone with IBD should know better than to scoff at another IBDer. Or anyone else with a chronic illness or condition for that matter!!! Let’s face it… a disease of any kind sucks. PERIOD.
Well, you’re not in her situation. Whether or not your suffering is greater does not matter. Did you ever stop to think that this may be the worst thing she’s ever experienced? And perhaps you have a very supportive friend or family member… maybe she doesn’t have support at all and feels all alone.
I’ve been on this earth for only thirty-two years, and I can tell you that I’ve seen some people who had what I would consider minor issues. However, just because I find it to be a small matter, doesn’t mean that they aren’t truly struggling. And it certainly doesn’t mean I can’t empathize with them and support them in their struggle. It’s called compassion!
I’m Sick of this Comparison Game
I’ve seen some Crohn’s sufferers laugh at those with UC. “Yeah, but you’re not as bad off as me! At least you can have your colon removed!” To those people, I would ask, “Are you sure? Have you seen every part of their struggle?”
For example: My mother has Crohn’s disease. She has struggled with it ever since she can remember when. At just 18 years of age, she had appendicitis (TWICE, believe it or not) and had to have emergency surgery to have it removed in addition to 8 inches of her colon… and this all happened TWO WEEKS before her wedding day. Did I mention also that the surgeon accidentally left part of her draining tube inside her and she developed gangrene? She’s never had to take any medications and flares occasionally, but looking at her situation, I would say she had quite the struggle. I don’t think I could have handled all that.
HOWEVER, mom would tell you that I had it way worse than she did with ulcerative colitis, countless medications, Prednisone problems, rashes, evil doctors, anemia, multiple ER visits, hospital stays, two surgeries, three abscesses, an ostomy and now a j-pouch.
Not every UC patient does well after colon removal (check this out!).
There are many UC’ers out there who feel they get the short end of the stick because they get a LOT of flack from people with Crohn’s. But I would also like to point out another IBD that often gets overlooked: indeterminate colitis. They often have a tougher time just getting a proper diagnosis which leads to having a difficult time getting the treatment they need!
I’m not trying to make a comparison or claim that one disease is worse than the other… The truth is we all have our own struggles. And depending on your experiences, the severity of your disease, and your support system (or lack thereof), what seems like a molehill to you, may be Mount Everest to someone else. Let’s try to be mindful, respectful and supportive of each other instead of throwing around our bitter, condescending remarks. It isn’t kind and it isn’t fair. We’re all sick. We all have our own set of challenges. You never know… someone may be thinking ill of you and your “minor” issues. Remember, someone ALWAYS has it worse than you.