So this weekend it happened again…. Every time I forget how much it hurts to have plans with people you care about, promises made, excitement level high, and then illness interrupts. I often go long bouts of time feeling great, living in a world of bliss, as if my illness does not exist. But as soon as that happens, as soon as I forget for too long, it comes back and swiftly reminds me.
I had set up plans for one of my good friends from back home to come visit me at my new apartment. I was going to show her around the city and just have a fun girls weekend. Friday night, I get home from work and she arrives. We walk around the park and make some delicious pizza. All is going well. Right before I go to sleep, I start feeling off, but I brush it off and blame in on exhaustion. “It will all be better in the morning,” I think.
Well..unfortunately. It was not better in the morning, but only worse. A younger version of myself would have tried to push through it, walking miles through Boston and landing myself in the hospital. But I am glad I have grown up enough and starting caring about my health enough to know I could not do that. That would only end in a greater heartbreak and much more serious consequences.
So it is 6 am on Saturday morning. I am sitting in my bathroom, trying not to wake my friend, crying, beating myself up over the fact that my friend had come all the way to Boston to see me and do some fun activities together, now due to the flare-up I was experiencing, it was not going to happen. I convinced myself she would be upset and disappointed. I know I was. Feelings of high school were looming- the scary feeling that if I stood-up my friends up too many times, too many missed dances, birthday parties, or other important events, that I would slowly, but surely lose their friendship.
However, as I said, I have learned since then. And my feelings on that subject back then were always misled. Had I “lost” friendships? Maybe a slim few. But what I realized is those people that I “lost” were not really friends. I had gained many more friendships, true friendships. Being a true friend, I have learned, means being there for a person in their time of need, at their sometimes, lowest and darkest times. My true friends are the ones who in the moments of not only physical, but emotional pain, were there–to hand me a bottle of Gatorade, or make sure I had the notes from class. To ease that pain, not increase the grief.
I pulled myself together and walked into the bedroom where my friend was wide awake, clearly sensing something was wrong. I had to be strong and just explain to her that I did not feel well and that we could not go on our planned adventures. The first few words are always the hardest, whether it is your friends, your partner, your boss, etc. Hard conversations are never fun, but there is no avoiding them, they have to be had.
Well, even though this weekend did not turn out as expected (as many times VLCAD throws me a loop), I realized I had found a true friend. She was completely understanding. She asked if she could get me anything, staying around for a while, clearly concerned for my well-being. A true friend can sometimes feel like a hard thing to find, but is truly a beautiful thing once it is found.
Despite chronic illnesses often interrupting our daily routines, aspirations, and relationships, I have found that they also provide a new-found respect for those important aspects in life. VLCAD has often been what has made me stop to those appreciate those things, when otherwise I probably would have just kept going.#vlcadprobs