Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Sick Off"

I am not sure how many times I have used the term "sick off" but in case you don't remember here is my definition:  Sick Off a competition between two or more sick people in which they will compare symptoms until someone has a symptom or a collection of symptoms that is far and away "worse" than the others. There is no outside judge, the participants reach a consensus in democratic fashion and winner is declared.  What is more American than that?

I originally coined the term when observing the above mentioned phenomenon in online "support" groups.  I do not believe the people I observed competing in these sick offs were even aware that they were competing but from the outside looking in it was obvious.  When viewed on a message board it is easy to diagram just like a sentence and it is hard to miss. After I first described the phenomenon on a message board I began to notice it in other places.

In person I have witnessed a variation of the sick off I have dubbed sick parity.  I think I can best describe this with some examples.  I was complaining about the brain damage caused by sarcoidosis to my sister.  I began to bemoan the aphasia that has been plaguing me and before my rambling was complete my sister looks at her husband and says I have that too.  At this point sick parity has been achieved.

I believe my sister was operating from a caring place.  My illness has been difficult for her like it would be for anyone.  She operates in denial as much as the situation will allow.  In other words if she has aphasia it is okay if I have aphasia.  When it first happened I was irritated and thought how could she be so selfish but a little time it became obvious that she loves me dearly and thought of me suffering and fading away is too much for her to bear.  Of course she is not really competing in a sick off and in actuality it is a charity match with no winners. 

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