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Avoiding Sick People

Avoiding Sick People

It’s that time of year, where all of the viruses and infections are going around. Trust me, I just experienced it with my oldest son having strep, and I think he shared. Usually I try to avoid people that are sick, but that’s obviously not an option when your child, or someone you live with is sick.

I’ve been told that I’ve said rude things to people, without really meaning to. When someone says they are sick, while we’re all hanging out, I’m like, “Oh no. You gotta keep a 15-foot radius away from me. Stay away from my imaginary bubble!” Someone got his or her feelings hurt when I said this, and I obviously was trying to make it funny, so I wasn’t being rude, but I guess it came off rude.

So I’m going to try and explain on the WHY I won’t willingly go around sick people, as I’m sure others with autoimmune illnesses are the same way. Basically, with MS, our immune system is mistaking our nerves as bad bacteria, and attacking. So, naturally, I don’t want to have my immune system kick up to fight a virus/infection, cause that’s when it starts misfiring.

Basically, it’s nothing against you personally, if you’re sick. I’m just trying to make sure that I don’t end up in a infusion clinic for 3-days straight on IV Steroids, because let me tell you, some people think it’s relaxing and the atmosphere can be relaxing, but why you’re there in the first place is NOT relaxing. You had to get an MRI to see if you were in a flare, most likely, and those are in no way RELAXING. And then there is the AWFUL taste you get in your mouth, while getting IV Steroids. Which by the way, if you ever have to get an infusion of steroids again, get a big bag of jolly ranchers, or something like that. It helps with the nasty taste in your mouth.

Now let me tell you, some people things I’m overly cautious about avoiding sick people, like I have a time-frame of when I will go around them, depending on when they started meds, the last time they had a fever, etc. I’m not taking any chances. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t really care if people things I’m a germaphobe, or crazy. I’m doing what I feel I need to do, so that I don’t end up laid up sick, or in an MRI machine, or getting IV steroids.

Also, from experience, if someone is sick with a virus/infection, and I somehow get sick because I was around them, shared a drink, etc. I will not only end up with what they had, but 10 times worse. Not even exaggerating here, it happened last year, around this time actually. My husband is a firefighter/EMT… and they are obviously exposed to illnesses. Even though they try their hardest to kill all the germs they come into contact with, it’s not always 100%. So there was something going around the department, and James, my husband, ended up getting it. Now most of you know, you can have the virus/infection for a little bit without showing signs. So I contracted it, before James started having symptoms.

Needless to say, I ended up with Pneumonia, and they were telling me that I might have to be hospitalized. Yeah, no thanks, I’ll pass. This doesn’t even begin to cover the increase in symptoms that can be experienced when your immune system is fighting an infection/bacteria.

Lets not forget that if you’re getting an infusion of Tysabri, like myself, I can’t get my infusion if I’m fighting an infection. So then there is all of that nonsense that can be affected as well. I know for most, if you get sick, you go to the doctor, rest take meds, and then you’re better. That’s not how it works for me.

Something else that I also want to talk about, that is still on the topic… and can be used in different obstacles of MS as well. So let me just answer the question that I get asked, when people see how crazy I am about not getting sick…. “No, I am not overreacting. The things I am trying to avoid are not being blown out of proportion.”

Obviously, there are people out there that think I’m overreacting to certain situations, or making things to seem worse than they really are. But until you see it first hand, you will NOT understand. My father-in-law that lives with us didn’t fully understand it until he saw what happened first hand. Now, if someone at his work is sick, he tells him or her to keep their distance from him.

Now with that being said, I won’t have the same ‘reaction’ to every situation. It all depends on what illness is going around, etc. It could just keep me in bed for a certain amount of time, or it could cause a flare up. There is no telling what can happen, and the unknown is one of the scariest parts for me when dealing with MS.

All right, that’s all for now. Since I’m currently not feeling good, and I think my son shared his strep throat with me…. Do you see why this topic came up? I know I’ve written about it before in ‘Tis’ the Season’, but I wanted to brush up on the topic.

Until next time!


Ashley Ringstaff

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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.


  • flora68
    2 years ago

    This is my first post so I REALLY don’t want to make anybody mad, but I must be honest…..the fear and dread of sick people you mentioned just hasn’t been my experience AT ALL…..but then MS obviously isn’t the same for everyone. Clearly it’s “good luck” to avoid sick people, but it’s often not feasible, especially when you’re a health care worker like I was; I was working in a family practice medical office (FULL of sick people year round) when I was diagnosed with RRMS in 2003 at the age of 52, and we’d ALL noticed that, although the entire staff got sick at least twice a year with whatever was going around, I almost never did. Or every few years when I DID catch something, I was always well again within a few HOURS, literally, instead of days. (I’m not bragging here; this just happened to me, like MS; I didn’t do anything to create it.) I mentioned this to my neurologist when we were discussing whether or not to get a flu shot, and he said that it was actually pretty typical for a patient NOT on immune-modulating therapy to be healthier than most: he told me that the immune systems of people with MS (and some other auto-immune diseases) actually tend to be STRONGER than average, and I’d already noticed this from personal experience since I basically almost never got sick despite constant exposure. The thing is, at that point I WAS on Copaxone, briefly, but soon had to get off it and have taken nothing but LDN for the 12 years since then; before the Copaxone I was on Avonex, also VERY briefly (it made me suddenly and overwhelmingly suicidal exactly once a week!) To be clear, I got sick as often as anyone else did when I was a kid, but apparently my immune system learned and grew stronger with every illness (just as it’s meant to), and I’m grateful that it’s usually kept me safe. I retired on disability in 2008, mostly due to a spinal injury rather than MS, so I’m no longer surrounded by sick people, but I still take care of sick family members and friends and I still don’t get sick. I’ve only taken an antibiotic once in ten years and that was for a UTI. (Sorry.) Oh, but I DO get flu shots, and the pneumonia vaccine. (Hey, I said I’m lucky, not stupid!) Best wishes to all.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    2 years ago

    Glad to hear that you have such a strong immune system! I wish I had that luck with mine. It never fails that when I catch something going around the house, it’s ten times worse for me.

    But as they say, MS is the ‘Snowflake’ disease, and none are the exact same. Also, people deal with it differently.

    Thank you for sharing your insight & being apart of the community here!
    Best, Ashley Ringstaff

  • orsinichris
    3 years ago

    Can you do your readers a favor and proof read this and repost it? I love the content and I would like to share it with the staff I work with but I work for a school. I can’t bring myself to share an article that is full of grammar/vocabulary errors and “…”s with educators.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    2 years ago

    Sorry, I do the best that I can, I’m more focused on getting my message/thoughts out there. Rather than how it is worded/punctuated.

  • SuFuMu
    3 years ago

    I can relate, Ashley! I carry gel hand sanitizer in my vehicle along with quality anti-bacterial wipe singles – always use after shopping, etc. I always bring a few wipes into restaurants to clean anything we may touch – especially s&p shakers, and the tabletop. If I remember, I’ll also bring plain alcohol wipes for the flatware. And I’ve told friends and family I can’t see them if they are sick.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    3 years ago

    Oh! People think I’m a germaphobe for cleaning EVERYTHING… but it’s worth it to me, to take the time to sanitize things, than end up getting sick.

  • JoyH
    3 years ago

    This is so timely for me! I was just diagnosed in February, 2016, so I’m still kind of new to this & trying to figure things out. I’m getting over a cold & I have just been feeling lousy! Cold symptoms are pretty much gone, but now I’ve been feeling a little “loopy” for the last few days (scary because this is how my relapse that led to my diagnosis started…)-not as bad as the relapse, but still not feeling well! It makes perfect sense though, because my immune system is already on hyper-drive, so just fighting a cold is throwing it into super-hyper-drive! Just reading these posts help me understand what’s going on in my body better than anything else can & help me feel not so alone in this. Thanks!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    3 years ago

    Glad you enjoyed the article! I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and the cold you battled. I hope you’re feeing better and had a wonderful Holiday!

  • Catgirl66
    3 years ago

    Regarding the jolly ranchers for the foul steroid taste, this is a great idea. Sweet tastes really do help & with hard candy taking so long to dissolve you don’t have to gain 50 pounds each flare. My neuro gives me oral steroids when I have a flare, so what I have learned to do is buy empty vitamin capsules from whole foods (also available on amazon), split the pills & stuff them into the capsules. I even go so far as to wear gloves, use tweezers & keep a dedicated pill splitter to reduce the foul taste.

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