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Why Do We Get Sick?

Whenever I get sick, I find myself analyzing everything I did leading up to my crisis trying to pinpoint the exact cause of my pain. Hoping that maybe I can avoid it next time, but knowing it doesn’t really work that way.

It can be random, things completely out of my control like the sudden change in the weather.

Wondering why...

But still, I go through my day in my mind wondering did I drink enough water or was it because I slept too little or too much. It’s partly the way that I was raised that causes me to contemplate these things every time I get sick.

Growing up with sickle cell

My mother would always berate me, claiming if I had just zipped my coat up all the way or worn more layers or played outside less, then maybe I wouldn’t be sick after the fact.

It was hard to fully enjoy being a kid. Most of me uncaring, but enough of me worried my mother was right. I couldn’t just jump into a cold pool like my friends. Despite the fact that I can’t swim and hate cold water, I didn’t want to risk having a pain crisis.

Halloween

On Halloween, I could never find a warm enough costume and would almost always suffer the consequences the next day. I couldn’t handle going caroling or promoting whatever school fundraiser door to door in the winter. I longed to dance in the rain but dreaded the aches that followed whenever I wasn’t prepared for a rainy day.

I felt limited by the fear of what if.

Is it the weather?

But there were also times I knew my sickness had nothing to do with me. Like living in the Midwest and watching the temperature go from 70 degrees one day to 30 the next day, that would make anyone sick.

Or the times I would wake up freezing in the middle of the night because my blanket had fallen off – maybe I should stop sleeping with the fan on. Down the list I go, but never truly figure it out. Maybe because it doesn’t happen every time, how can I ever be sure what truly caused me to get sick.

Do others wonder "why" too?

I wonder if anyone else does this when they get sick. Do they question who gave them the flu, or COVID now, or maybe what activity caused them to get the cold. Do they berate themselves for not drinking enough water, having enough vitamin C, or bundling up better? Do they question all of their friends to find sick contacts or wish they hadn’t gone to some event they suspect?

But that’s not fair either. Like getting a sickle cell crisis, COVID has shown itself to also be random at times.

Analyzing the situation

Maybe sometimes it’s good to sit ourselves down and analyze the behaviors that led us to a particular situation, especially if we can change or prevent something bad from happening again in the future or maybe stop it from affecting others. But maybe some things are just so far out of our control, too random for us to ever understand, and wondering what happened will only drive us crazy.

Still, here I am questioning my actions, running through my known triggers, and checking my exposures when maybe I should just hydrate and go to sleep.

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