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Adult woman in bubble with germs

Afraid of Getting Sick

I really marvel at people who go about their lives, never worrying about getting sick.

Our family has always had bad luck with respiratory infections. We are a family of 5, and 4 of us have asthma. That means that any respiratory infection is always much worse for us.

Our family history of getting sick with asthma

In fact, when my kids were little, they were in the hospital 12 times (2 times in the intensive care unit or ICU). Most of their hospitalizations were due to pneumonia, but a few were due to wildfire smoke. When my kids were little and would get sick, they got really sick – really fast. I have seen wide-eyed emergency-room doctors skid to a stop in front of my kid’s ER room as my kid dropped to critical condition. They needed to be quickly transferred upstairs to the Pediatric ICU wing. The doctors were shocked at how fast my kids went from being sick to needing to be admitted to the ICU. (I did warn them...)

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When the neighborhood kids would come over with a runny nose or cough, I would send them right back home. I knew those kids would be sick for a couple of days, but my kids would be sick for a solid month. And my kids would need a lot of breathing treatments with the nebulizer. Their lungs were so bad that they couldn’t breathe in deep enough to use their inhaler. Only the nebulizer would do. The nebulizer turns their albuterol into a mist, which is a lot easier for them to inhale.

It’s been 15 years since my kids were in the hospital for asthma, but my kids (and I) still have plenty of visits to Urgent Care and the ER for asthma. We’ve been battling asthma for the last 23 years.

Another reason to be afraid of getting sick

So when COVID was added to the mix, it was another worry for us. And rightfully so. When my coworkers or friends got COVID, they would tell me, “It’s not that bad – it’s like a mild cold.”


When I got COVID, I was deathly ill for a month. I was coughing so hard I would gag and try not to vomit. I needed breathing treatments every 4 hours – around the clock. I slept upright to breathe easier and had a nebulizer on each floor of my house for quick access to a breathing treatment. I also needed an oxygen concentrator because I struggled to maintain my oxygen level.

I got COVID again in February and was very sick again. My family wasn’t that sick, but nooooo – my body had to overreact. My body was like, “Go Big or Go Home!”

Because our family has a habit of getting really sick while others are just mildly inconvenienced for a day or 2, I am afraid of getting sick. Even before COVID, we all carried around hand sanitizers, travel hand wipes, and a pop-up container of hand wipes in each car.

Additional ways I try to avoid illness

Since COVID started 3 years ago, I have not gone back to church, attended book club, or been to neighborhood potluck dinners. I also skip baby showers, bridal showers, and any other indoor get-togethers.

I still wear a mask when I go shopping or go to the doctor’s office. I was at the dermatologist and she said, “You don’t have to wear a mask anymore, you know.” I told her that yes, I do. I told her that when I get sick, I get really sick. And in fact, I have an oxygen concentrator at home because it’s been a year and a half since I got COVID the first time, and I still have problems with my lungs and oxygen level.

Is anyone else still afraid of getting sick? Are are you one of those who gets REALLY sick while others around you are mildly ill for a couple of days? Is it just me?

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.

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