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Dear Friends: Please Don't Leave Just Because I Have a Chronic Illness

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Where do people go when you have a chronic illness?

They disappear. Why? I personally don’t know.

Are you afraid? Are you uncomfortable? Are you disappointed that we cannot do things the way we used to? Are you worried about hurting us or us dying and you don’t want to be too attached? Are you creeped out by our medical or assistive devices?

Please know that we chronically ill folks still need you. Many of us still have active minds even if our bodies don’t work like they used to. Many of us still need conversation with others and feel like we are part of the real world even if we have to use a telephone to talk instead of go out. Many of us still like to go out to eat even if it’s just a friend that brings over takeout to our home. Many of us still enjoy activities even though they may have to be adapted to our abilities or done in a different manner or platform.

Please don’t abandon us. We still need you. If you don’t know what to say, send a text, email, card or quick call just to say hi and I’m thinking about you. If you have questions about what’s going on with us medically, please ask us. We are usually happy to share with you and clarify anything that may be unclear to you. Most of the time, not knowing is far more scary than the actual truth.

Chronic illness is tough on everyone. As a patient, our lives are turned into endless appointments, painful tests, blood draws and frequent hospital stays. No, we can’t do things like we used to. We may have to become a hermit during flu season. We may have to wear a surgical mask when we go out. We may have catheters implanted into our bodies and be on multiple medications daily. We may have to give ourselves IV medications or injections. We may have a go bag with us all the time for unexpected hospital stays. We may use a walker or wheelchair because our mobility has changed or we tire easily and cannot walk long distances. We may have to test our blood and stick ourselves every day. We may not even be able to work anymore and be crushed at the fact we have lost our personal outlet and career. But, we are the same people inside that we always have been.

So, please don’t leave us behind. Many of us are lonely and often feel like our illness has become our life. We still need others who care about us to stay involved. We need friends and family to help us through tough days so that we can look forward to better ones. We need social outlets and activities as much as ever. We need loved ones to help advocate for us when we are unable to. We may need help with driving to appointments, childcare or meals. We may have a chronic illness, but it does not define who we are.


Your chronically ill friend

Originally published: March 30, 2018
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