A Thank-You Letter to a Friend Who Understands Chronic Illness

When you have chronic illnesses, one of the most difficult aspects to deal with is feeling isolated from the “normal” world. When you find friends who understand, friends who are patient enough to take on all the extra obstacles just to stand by your side, it means more than words can express.

I met my friend Jessica on Instagram. Never would I have thought she would become one of the most important people in my life. She has chronic illnesses, too. We both have gastroparesis, so she understands how I feel on such a deeper level than most. A few months ago I was going through one of the hardest times in my life, physically and emotionally. My health was deteriorating and I was feeling so down. Then I get a phone call one afternoon from Jess. She surprised me with the news that she was taking me to a Taylor Swift concert for my birthday. I literally started jumping up and down in bed (T. Swift is my absolute fav), but then I wondered how we would do this. At the time I was requiring so much medical equipment and assistance I didn’t see how it would be possible. She knew how badly I needed the escape. Challenge accepted.

Erika and Jessica in the hospital

Not many people find friendships like we have in their lifetimes.

This is a thank you to Jess:

Thank you for driving nine hours straight to come pick me up since I couldn’t drive.

Thank you for hauling the ridiculous amount of supplies I required around with us.

Thank you for wheeling me around Tiger Stadium (with its huge death ramps) and moving like 10 times because they don’t know where to put people in wheelchairs.

Thank you for holding my hand when I had a seizure.

Thank you for holding my feeding tube in my stomach while I put my earrings in.

Thank you for sitting with me in the emergency room for hours and making me laugh (even though it hurt).

Sorry about that surprise ER trip, by the way (who knew shaking it off could make your feeding tube fall out?).

Thank you for appreciating naps as much as I do, if not more.

Thank you for understanding.

Thank you for honest late-night talks.

Thank you for being so patient.

Thank you for everything.

Those two words just aren’t enough.

I love you, Jess.

Erika (right) and Jessica at the Taylor Swift concert

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