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When a Visit From Mom and Dad Is Just What the Doctor Ordered

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I’ve been chronically ill now for about three years. It seems like my health changed overnight. I went from being a healthy 22-year-old to a 25-year-old who feels like she’s living in an 80-year-old’s body. It’s daily struggle to overcome the mental barrier of feeling so terrible at such a young age. I fight against my body every day and often times that fight can drain me. 

Before I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, I was living on my own in a new city five hours away from my family and friends. I was working an overnight shift and was exhausted every single day. Doctor after doctor told me I was just tired, but I knew something wasn’t right. With my family being so far away, I felt extremely isolated as my health got worse.

Isolation is still something I struggle with now. Taking care of my health has become a second full-time job for me. Doctors appointments, hospital stays, blood work, tests, procedures — my to-do list never seems to be finished. It can, at times, be hard to relate to other people my age who don’t have to deal with these issues. I hate being the friend to skip out on something fun because I don’t feel well or I am just too exhausted. When I push my body past its limits, the consequences can last for days. 

Sometimes it can be hard for people to understand that — mostly because I don’t allow too many people in my life to see me when I am truly at my worst. The two people that have seen it all are my parents. I’ve always been a very independent person, but in the last few years, I’ve learned it’s OK to admit you need help.

I never thought I would need my parents more at the age of 25 than I did at the age of 15. My parents have been there every step of the way. When I’m at my worst, they’re at their best. My health has affected their lives just as much as it has affected my own. There have been times when I have seen fear and sadness on their faces, and my heart breaks that my health can sometimes make them feel so helpless. I know they would take on these battles for me if they could. 

I’m in my mid-20s, but the fact is there are times when I need my parents to help take care of me. They bring me to my doctors, speak up when they feel I’m not being treated well and, at times, advocate for my health better than I can. They pick me up off the bathroom floor after I’ve been sick for hours. They spend their vacation and sick days with me in the hospital. They drive to my apartment to bring me groceries when my joints hurt so bad I can barely walk up the stairs or use my hands. 

Not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I am lucky enough to live near home now. I know it may not seem like a big deal to some, but my parents go above and beyond for me. They always have, but it means even more to me now. 

I really wanted to write something that puts a spotlight on parents. Chronic illness doesn’t just affect the patient, it also affects their family and I think sometimes that gets overlooked. Patients sacrifice a lot, but in a lot of cases so do their parents, and they should be applauded for that.

Going through this process can be scary at times and no one should have to do it alone. Thankfully, many of us, myself included, have great parents who will never give up on us.

Plus, sometimes a visit from Mom and Dad can be just what the doctor ordered. 

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Originally published: October 26, 2016
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