I started getting sick often soon after moving to a new town. I actually considered that I was perhaps allergic to this new town. I’d just lost a job, still trying to cope with the death of my brother, still in the middle of figuring out a whole other lot of other things. Getting sick was not very conducive to making new friends or keeping old ones who lived several hundred miles away.
It was at least 5 years before I got the SLE preliminary diagnosis. During which time I had trudged through several jobs, gotten gravely ill several times, made and lost a couple of friends, went through a failed relationship, plunged into severe depression, picked myself up and got myself back on track and then almost died from kidney failure.
No, things don’t get better. You learn to cope and to survive as long as there is breath in you. You learn to see the beauty and the light. And in that way it becomes easier.
Perhaps the most important lesson I have learnt, is to Appreciate the support I have. In a way, it also means not tolerating negative vibes and petty relationship politics. If you are an energy vampire I steer clear of you, maybe I’ll even cut you out of my life.
At the same time, no matter how I am feeling, I try to bring positive energy to the people around me. And if I find that for some reason there is no positive exchange between us, I excise you out of my life.
This might seem a strange thing to do, considering the fact that people suffering from chronic illness often have to deal with so-called friends disappearing from their lives.
It is true. I am not the popular life of the party girl I used to be. Not very many people are inviting me to their parties. I get very few calls or texts from people just wanting to know how I am. I can count the people I call friends on one hand and still have fingers left over. But the point is, I do have those three people I can count on. And it is important that I be a positive addition in their lives.
Because when I’m puking my guts out, or shivering in that hospital hallway – they are the ones who show up bleary eyed and trying to hide their fear. They are the ones who kick me out of bed for that walk I’m not so enthusiastic about. They are the ones who call me at 12.43pm to check if I ate lunch and have remembered to take my meds. They are the ones who point out how beautiful that flower in the garden is turning out to be. They are the ones who remind me that it is not all about me, that I have so much to offer the world. They are the ones you just cannot afford to neglect or take advantage of, because they are friends indeed.