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A Letter to Friends Along for the Ride on My Journey With Chronic Illness

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Dear Caring Friends,

We need to have a tough conversation.

One that we likely avoid often, because none of us are comfortable speaking on it. Let’s be honest and straightforward, shall we?

I have a long-term, chronic illness. I’m not getting better fully. There’s no current cure. And although I love you dearly, there are no easy fixes to what the problem is. Do you think if there was, I wouldn’t be on that ASAP? I know you know I would.

I’m not getting better. This isn’t me in a state of depression saying this (although depression is a common side effect of chronic illness). No, this is me understanding my condition and my reality. I know it sucks for not just me; you’re also impacted, too.

I wish your caring ideas really would do the trick. Some of them, I do try. Mostly though, it’s just me and my doctors who have my treatment plan pretty down pat. In my case, that looks like physical therapy appointments multiple times a week, painful stretches both on land and in a pool, visiting doctor after doctor and getting exhausted simply from working on my health, but there it is. I’ve got meds and vitamins I take and a good therapist who hears me vent so I won’t complain about my health as much.

I know my health conditions may feel new to you, that you also struggle coming to terms with them. It’s OK if you are also frustrated. I am often, so why wouldn’t you be also?

You never signed up for this, I get it. It’s tiresome to watch me not get better. It can be overwhelming not being able to help. I see your struggles, too.

I often feel like a burden… More accurately, my health feels like the problem. I just want to be a good friend and return the favor to you. You’ve listened to me vent, share my shock of getting a chronic illness, heard me out on the things that bother me most about my health. That takes a lot and I don’t take it for granted. I don’t take you for granted.

With all of those things said, thank you. Thank you for listening and for being a shoulder to cry on. Thanks for reminding me it’s not fair I’m sick, but I’ve got this.

Thanks for being a part of my journey.

Your chronically cool friend,

Originally published: July 21, 2021
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