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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 if I drank enough water or if it was 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 always berated me, claiming if I had just zipped my coat up all the way or worn more layers or played outside less, maybe I wouldn’t be sick.

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


On Halloween, I could never find a warm enough costume and almost always suffered the consequences the next day. Going caroling or promoting whatever school fundraiser door-to-door in the winter wasn't possible. 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. Living in the Midwest and watching the temperature go from 70 degrees one day to 30 the next day 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, never truly figuring it out. If it doesn’t happen every time, how can I ever truly know what 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 what activity caused the cold? 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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