I’m in a bit of a sticky situation. A few weeks ago I got a raging UTI and made the mistake of telling a few close friends about it. I didn’t know what was happening to my body, and I was pretty freaked out. I just knew I was in a lot of pain, and that it wasn’t going away. After a few rough days (and some WebMD’ing that made me sure I was cancerous) I finally went to a clinic and found out that it was just a UTI. A round of antibiotics later and it was kicked, but my friends haven’t let me off the hook since. They’ve been calling me Cranberry, Cranny, Ocean Spray, Craisin and a host of other stupid names revolving around drinking cranberry juice to avoid UTIs. It’s embarrassing, and it makes me feel like they don’t care about me. If it was any other stupid thing I’d be able to laugh it off, but I hate that this is about something I couldn’t control. How can I tell them that I don’t want them to call me Cranberry anymore?
First of all I want to say YUCK and that THIS IS NOT A WAY FOR ADULTS TO ACT. I can imagine how shitty it must feel to have trusted your friends with that information, only to have them throw it back in your face - and with such boring jokes too! Cranberry juice jokes about a UTI? Are they kidney-ing? Such blad-der senses of humour! Urethra be JOKING with that! (Fun fact: UTI’s are an infection that can happen anywhere along the urinary tract, including the kidney, bladder and urethra!)
Okay, sorry I’m done! Truly, my first instinct is to tell you to throw the whole friends away. In my mind, if you’re coming to your friends to tell them about something serious and sensitive, you shouldn’t have to worry about being mocked about it.
That being said, cutting every person who crosses you out of your life isn’t the most practical advice, BUT this does give you an opportunity to evaluate what’s going on in this friend group. Is this how all of your friend secrets are handled? Do you normally trust these people with serious things, or are they just people you joke around with? Have you been a part of this teasing before, and has it made you feel good about yourself? If the answers to these questions aren’t positive, then maybe you don’t have to keep spending time with these folks.
If you’re thinking that these are actually great and trusted friends that just don’t know how to drop a joke, you should try being really honest with them. Maybe pick one or two that you’re closest with, and let them know that in all honesty and in all seriousness you don’t find it funny. If they press, or continue to joke, get really real with them, tell them you were in a lot of pain and you didn’t know what was wrong. Let them know you were relieved to find treatment that worked, but that bringing it up again and again makes you remember that time and makes you feel bad. It’s very possible that this joke has stuck because sexual health is something that people have a hard time talking about. People get freaked out by anything that goes wrong down below, and often make jokes to hide the fact that it has happened to them, or the fear that it might. Hopefully if you can be brave enough to remind everyone that a UTI isn’t some crazy sex disease - it’s literally just a small bacterial infection, not much different than a sore throat or a stomach bug - they will stick up for you after that.
As for the group chats, the nicknames, the phone calls etc - stop responding to them. Let the joke fall flat - if someone calls you Cranny, ignore them for a second, and if they push go “oh, are we still doing this?” Part of the reason that nicknames and jokes stick is because they become habitual and part of your friend group’s lore of inside jokes. If there’s something you want to leave behind, disrupt the jokes in a small but firm way, so it’s not such an easy joke to keep coming back to. You might ruffle a few feathers for a few days, but good friends aren’t gonna put up too much of a fight just to keep humiliating you.
And if your friends take your honest plea to stop with the jokes as anything less than critical, send me their addresses. Maybe cranberries won’t be so funny when I CRAN THEIR HOUSES TO THE GROUND.