Will people finally understand what it's like to be chronically ill once this pandemic is over?

Last updated: May 2020

I'm not really a fan of the articles telling us to find the positives in a pandemic: people are seriously ill and even dying, so I'm not particularly interested in how COVID-19 has helped you exercise more or take up a new hobby (or perhaps I'm just bitter that this seems impossible with an 11-month old baby!). But I do wonder when this finally ends, whether we will find people's attitudes are transformed towards those of us with a chronic illness. An illness that will still be with us when this is over, and long after that.

Other people will understand how it feels to be home A LOT

Firstly, people will understand how it feels like to be home for far more than the average person. Of course, we aren't physically locked down with a Crohn's or colitis flare but may well be too unwell or fatigued to leave the house. Will people realize just how frustrating and isolating it can be and realize the freedom that comes with being able to go wherever you'd like when you like? Let's hope they stop making jokes about how they wish they could just have a duvet day and watch Netflix all day.

They'll understand the fear of getting sick

This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the fragility of our health. Anyone can get it and there's no saying who will feel well and who will need hospitalization. Healthy folk can often feel as if they're invincible and can struggle to understand the fear looming around the corner of flaring up/ending up in the hospital once again or perhaps getting a whole new illness altogether. This fear and the mental health toll of worrying when the next flare-up will come can be huge. We can only hope that those who don't have a chronic illness may be more empathetic to our health concerns, and the fear around them, after this.

They'll understand more about immunosuppressants and why we're vulnerable

In the UK at least, we're talking a lot about how certain groups of people are vulnerable and at-risk due to their illness and immunosuppressants. IBD is one of these conditions, and although it means many individuals with IBD are highly vulnerable, we hope that this shines a spotlight on how having Crohn's doesn't just stop there. And how we are at risk of so many other more things. So perhaps they won't come to work with a cold and sneeze all over us?

Healthy people will not take their health for granted

Sometimes it can be frustrating when we hear healthy people moan about minor things-such as a bout of mild food poisoning or why they're on a no-carb diet. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying people shouldn't talk about these things. However, I do hope from the pandemic that healthy people will not take their health for granted so much and realize just how valuable (and wished for) a healthy body is.

They'll learn you don't need to be in a bar to be socializing

Finally, socializing for those of us with Crohn's is tricky. We might not be up for drinking alcohol or going for a big meal out if we know it will cause problems the next day or we're feeling fatigued. Yet now, we're socializing successfully from home. Whether it's Skype chats or a virtual pub quiz. When this is over, will people understand this? We can still socialize, keep in touch, and be a friend without necessarily having to leave the house. And just because we can't come out drinking doesn't mean we can't hang out and have fun.

Only time will tell as to whether this pandemic will change us and people's attitude forever. When it is over, and over it will be one day, let's hope those of us with chronic illnesses are treated with the empathy, respect, and understanding we deserve.

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