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Chronic Illness and Expectations

When I first found out I had hepatitis C I only told James, my husband of  20 years. He has been and currently is an excellent support, caretaker, strength, and provider throughout my health ordeal.

Sharing that you have hepatitis C has all the normal risks and pitfalls of sharing you have any chronic disease. People, in general, can be selfish and often don’t respond just exactly like we hope they would, but add to the pot the fact that hepatitis C also carries a whole other set of problems swirling around it. Like being contagious, judgment regarding mode of transmission, misinformation, incorrect portrayal by media, providers, and even patients themselves. I don’t know many people with hep C that haven’t been hurt by not just the virus, but the response, or lack of response, from the people around them.

Lessons Learned Through the Years

After several years and several mistakes regarding disclosure, I have learned a few things I hope may be helpful to others who are trying to decide how, when, and to whom they should share their chronic illness with. 

The absolute best advice I have ever received and followed regarding the reactions of others is to set very low expectations. Don’t expect others to drop everything, show compassion, ask the right questions, use wisdom, or respond how YOU would like. They probably won’t. Doesn’t make it right, but expecting a poor reaction does make it easier. I remember when I worked up the nerve to tell my Dad, he said: “I can never find my keys in this little apartment!”. Whoa….talk about changing the subject to avoid a hard conversation. It hurt, mainly because I had expected more. Lower those expectations down to nothing and you will NOT be disappointed.

Controling our Expectations

I have found that forcing myself to be the comfort I want is helpful. Serving others despite our own illness is perhaps the quickest and most effective way to turn our own captivity around. Our own resentments, problems, and suffering often fade as we intentionally chose to focus on the needs of others.

There has only been one or two instances where I couldn’t possibly get my expectations low enough to not be shocked by the level of poor behavior thrown at me. In general, intentionally lowering my expectations of others has completely changed my life for the better. It really is the cure for bitterness, resentment, hurt feelings, and offense.  

This may sound a little cynical but it helps to never set yourself up for disappointment by setting any bar for anybody in any situation high. Set expectations low and then when people behave well it’s a bonus!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • highmaintenance
    2 years ago

    I feel like an “expert” on this subject of telling others & not getting the response expected. I no longer have the virus & had a liver transplant over 8 years ago, but still amazed that even those in my Inner Circle have not studied & educated themselves about the road I’ve been traveling for over 18yrs. This article has reignited my experience & The Expectations of how people react to the horrible virus.

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