For those of us who live life with chronic pain; suffering; doctor’s visits; medical tests; medications; medical bills; insurance problems; fear; worry and the rest of it … there is a label..it is called, Hypochondriac. It is a term that is most typically & flippantly slapped upon us with a very negative connotation. We can speak briefly to someone (either a medical professional or not) & earn this label within moments. What is troubling about this for me is that many of us who are given this label, do not deserve the label/classification or the dismissiveness that comes with it. That is, some medical professionals and family members are so quick to label us, that we do not get diagnosed or treated (both medically or socially) in the proper manner. And worse, we are made to feel as if we have some mental defect worthy of a DSM IV diagnosis because we have been the unlucky recipient of a medical illness or host of them. None of chose to be “sick” and feel bad all the time. And none of choose to obsess or spew our symptomology to anyone who will listen, though I know there are those “true” hypochondriacs who do. It is difficult for people who do not live the daily challenges of a painfully afflicted life to understand what those of us who do, are going through. I would urge those otherwise healthy individuals/physicians to consider for just a moment, a past, horrible flu, illness, pain from some injury, etc. and how it would be to live with that condition on a 24/7 basis. It is difficult to not think about our condition when it permeates every moment of our lives and we cannot escape it. It is also easy to obtain this label when you are dealing with a medically complex group of symptoms that do not fit neatly into a specific diagnosis box. For the physicians who may not be trained to recognize an illness such as Sjogrens, it appears as if a patient is continually presenting with a host of separate symptoms ( not always presenting at the same time or in combination with eachother), thereby not recognizing the syndrome diagnosis as a whole and treating each visit as a separate incidence/illness. It is easy to call this kind of patient a hypochondriac instead of taking the time to put all the puzzle pieces together and looking at the big picture. And sadly, many patients have gotten used to being treated that way and/or have given up on finding a diagnosis. We question our own sanity and find ourselves wondering if we really are hypochondriacs? Yes, it is often difficult not to feel as if our identity is now our illness. But if you are going to give us a label, please take the time to make it a medically correct one.