We like to refer to the cold as a “common” illness. It spreads easily, and we assume everyone feels similar symptoms: Runny nose. Congestion. Coughing. Sore throat. We know these symptoms are common, but most of us aren’t aware of the uncommon symptoms a person with a disease/disability may endure when afflicted with an illness as “common” as the cold.
The common cold impacts my anatomy in uncommon ways. When I have a cold, my entire upper body swells, which increases my preexistent pain. My compromised lungs struggle to function properly, forcing me to do breathing exercises and use inhalers throughout the day. My hands and arms throb as I move them. My neurological pain increases. If I’m able to fall asleep, I wake up within a couple of hours because my hands ache continuously.
I’m sharing this information as a reminder to never assume that you know what someone is enduring just because it’s “common.” Afflictions and illnesses impact each person differently, especially a person with a syndrome/disability. You may not know the uncommon ways an illness impacts a person, but you can always ask. Ask to hear how (or what) a person is feeling. Ask to hear how you can help. Ask to hear uncommon ways you can lighten that person’s load (i.e. cooking, vacuuming, running errands).
Let’s make reaching out to one another as common as the common cold.