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Why Everyone With a Chronic Illness Needs a 'Spoonie' Friend

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Friendship is very important for people throughout life. You learn to share, to grow, to love, to laugh, and to have an adventure with friends differently than you do with your family. Your friends help cultivate in you a side of yourself that your parents and your siblings aren’t able to. Maybe it’s because family is always there. Maybe it’s because they often have those same traits as you. Whatever the case may be, friends bring out a different side of you than family does.

The same can be said for “spoonie” friends. These are beautiful, special and unique friendships that bring out a different side of you — that speak to a part of your life not everyone understands. It’s a friendship built on shared experiences and pain. But, it’s one that you would not give up for the world.

I have been lucky enough to make three good friends within the spoonie community recently. Their friendship during the good and the bad times helps keep a smile on my face when all I really want to do is cry. While we may or may not share the same illnesses, we share some of the same experiences: social stigmas, lost friends/family, lost jobs, feelings of worthlessness, the desire to achieve goals, lack of understanding from medical professionals… and the list goes on. Just by being able to be there for each other via text — they all live all over the U.S. — we’re able to support each other, make each other laugh and give each other ideas when we just feel too sick to use common sense.

Spoonie friends can relate to having tubes shoved down their noses and PICC lines put in their arms and being forced to take handfuls of medications twice a day (or more). It’s a friendship founded on a negative subject but, because we’re survivors, we’re able to turn it into something beautiful. Who else can text someone they’ve never actually met and talk about throwing up or having bathroom accidents? Spoonies! Who else can you drunk text (medicated on morphine) at 2 a.m. while you’re in the hospital and have the text make no sense and have them just say, “You’re medicated, aren’t you?” Spoonies!

Everyone needs friendship, whether you’re part of the chronic illness community —a spoonie — or not. You need that someone or someones who you know you can count on to be there, even through text, when you’re having a bad day. I’m lucky enough to have found three beautiful ladies who understand what I’m going through and are there to support me as much as they can. I hope all spoonies can find someone too.

Photo by Kevin Laminto on Unsplash

Originally published: February 5, 2019
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