10 Signs: You Might be a “Professional Patient” If…

I was shopping for my Mother’s Day present today and I brought my 40% off coupon with me. As I was reaching for it, I pulled out my latest prescription. You know you’re a professional patient when you’re paying for a blouse with a prescription! So what is a “professional patient”? A professional patient is someone who spends so much time fighting illness that it becomes a full-time job—often times many of us have to juggle this job with other responsibilities like being an employee, spouse, parent, or student. The worst part is that we don’t get paid for it—in fact, we lose money from being sick! Indeed, fighting four chronic illnesses (bipolar disorder, polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and Myasthenia Gravis) is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. Even when I had one disease (Bipolar II), that was a lot of pressure. Without further ado, here it is:

You Might be a Professional Patient When…

#10   You’re out shopping and you pull out a prescription instead of a coupon.

#9      You find yourself measuring everything in milligrams. Example: “I need a picture frame that is 5 mg X 8 mg.” OR “So I’ll meet you in 15 mg?” Photo07_1280

#8      You carry a cane and wear gloves BUT you’re not Willy Wonka!

images#7      Your toddler child/niece/nephew knows what this is:

#6         You know the intricate plot lines of TV shows you hate.

#5         You spend all your PTO/vacation days in the hospital.  This is why I “vacationize” my visits and wear a lei to the hospital.

#4        You talk to your pharmacist more than your best friend.

#3        Your pharmacist instantly recognizes your voice.

#2        You have a nickname for your cane, wheelchair, walker, IV bag, etc.  56-3My cane, Erica Kane, is my “Wilson.”

<<drum roll please>>

#1          Every time you hear an alarm, you reach for your meds.

Are you a professional patient?  Have anything you want to add to the list?

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno

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Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

7 thoughts on “10 Signs: You Might be a “Professional Patient” If…

  • May 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I can read prescriptions pretty well, and got a 98% on a “could you be a pharmacist” quiz. If anyone in my family has any question about a medicine, treatment or illness, they call me – if I don’t know, I know how to find out. I’m my friends’ and family’s “mental health expert” as well, so if a friend of a friend, or the neighbor’s granddaughter is having some anxiety issues, or a bad funk, they ask me – and I usually talk to whoever it is, especially if they’re young and/or new to treatment/diagnoses. I go to doctors appts with some friends and family as a sort of translator. Wow, maybe I should work on a list myself! I’ve got a million of them, but I started my list of illnesses young.

    • May 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Laura! I’m glad we can laugh about our illnesses together. (Next month, I’m starting a series with readers who want to share their stories so we can learn from each other–let me know if you’re interested.) Sounds like you have a lot of wisdom and experience at such a young age. Way to use your pain t help others. Thanks for making me laugh today. –xoxo

  • May 8, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    You might be a professional patient if …
    – you get your recommended 6-8 glasses of water/day just from taking all of your medication!
    – when someone on tv names a medical condition or symptom, your husband turns to you and asks “is that a real thing?” and you answer “yes – I have that, too!”
    – the pharmacist greets you by name when you walk in the store
    – when travelling, you need a separate bag just to carry your medications & medical treatments/supplies
    – when you have more doctors in your contact list than friends or family members (who you actually talk to)

  • July 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Yup, I gave my most pressing issue a name. THOR …..because it’s a problem in the thoracic. So I would regularly bitch at ‘him’ and what a bastard ‘he’ is and couldn’t I get a break and all that…like a sneaky ex I could never escape from !!

    Then the movie came out and that guy is such a cutie !! I could no longer curse out Thor….. :p

  • August 28, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    11. The entire night staff at the nearest emergency room knows you. I go to check in and they go “aren’t you the girl who broke both her ankles at the time, had pneumonia, sprained her back, has an anxiety attack so bad she puked 12 times in 12 hours, etc…” Pick your story, the answer is yes

    • August 28, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Wow! That’s intense. We need each other to keep our sense of humor to survive this. Thanks for sharing. –Jessica

  • August 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I don’t leave the house without my little bottle containing three day’s worth of my daily meds, as well as bottles of Percocet and xanax in case of eme. rgencies. I also have a three page medical history packet, with all my meds, contacts, and insurance info, as well as past surgery and hospitalization dates, because all the meds, treatments, and fibro have ravaged my memory.


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