When you live with a chronic illness you begin to become acutely aware of how other people react and adapt to your condition. There are two particular extremes of behaviour that have become the most prevalent in my life. These behaviours show themselves when someone around you is unwell themselves.
Some seem to be a acting under the false pretence that because I am ill, I won't want to hear about their current situation. Or worse, that they are somehow belittling my condition purely through expressing their own symptoms. I hear constant cries of "...But it's nothing like you are going through..", or "...But obviously you have it worse.." almost immediately after talking about themselves. Like they've caught wind of the words that have just come from their own mouths and feel insta-guilt.
There is no shame in being a sick friend of your sick friend. Please try to remember that our illness is a PART of our lives, not all of it. We want to know that you are doing ok because we care. In fact most Crohn's patients will profess that they've found themselves to be more accepting and understanding of others conditions through adapting to their own. We have simply become more awesome despite Crohn's.
It's unnecessary to feel you cannot be open about your own issues for fear of offending us. It personally takes a lot more than telling me you have the flu to offend me. Although please do remember to choose your moments and activate your common sense; i.e. Complaining about a rash when someone is on a life support machine probably isn't appropriate. Or so that nurse told me anyway.
At the other end of the sickness scale, some people will feel more inclined to talk about their own illness to sufferers of chronic illness because they consider us to be some form of walking-talking fount of all medical knowledge. It's certainly true that in living with Crohn's we have been probed more regularly than E.T's phone. We mostly have a vast and varied knowledge of medical procedures and medications. We KNOW pain relief and the signs of an oncoming flare-up. But we are not doctors. (Well I'm sure some of you are but you know what I mean).
On the whole we are happy to help and advise when you come to us with a problem, just again bear in mind that it's tough for us and we don't always have the energy to solve our own medical mysteries ourselves let alone yours.
So in conclusion, please talk to us when you are sick and grant us with the same compassion we try our best to offer you. Let us help you when we can to the best of our ability. Because anything you do to remind us or make us feel that we are not who we once were is more offensive than ever telling me about that weird spot on your backside. While I'm eating.