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When a Friend Told Me Not to Use My Illnesses as an 'Excuse'

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I was having a conversation with a friend. I was (and still am) in the middle of a tornado of medical problems. I was getting over an allergic reaction, a lot of med changes, an infection that put me on antibiotics and my immune system just pretty much threw its hands up and said, “Peace out!” Due to all of this and the fact that it was Christmas time, I had shifted myself into overdrive for a few days and was crashing hard. I’m not going to lie; I was miserable.

So when my friend came to visit me, all I could manage was to chat with her while lying in bed. Then she asked what my plans were for the next day. I said, “I’m not planning anything for tomorrow. I need a day completely free to rest.” She gave me this frustrated look and said, “You’ve been resting all night. You slept a lot today. You can’t be that tired! I want to be able to go do things with you! If you don’t want to do things, just say so. But don’t use your illnesses as an excuse.”

That had me fuming and so hurt inside. So I have a quota on how much sleep I am allowed? I have a limit on how much rest is acceptable? How do you know how tired I am? And most of all, if you only knew how badly I want to go do those things, too. I didn’t say anything, though, because I didn’t want the wrong words to slip out.

I guess she saw how much I was struggling because her face softened and became apologetic. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m impatient. And it’s really hard. And I know it’s hard for you, too, and it’s really hard. But I’ll work on being more patient about this stuff.”

Her sudden understanding made me break down because she was getting it. I told her this:

“That’s one thing I’ve had to become: patient. I never had a choice. I’ve been sick for almost three years now… When you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but have to keep going anyway, patience is one of the most important things to grasp hold of. I know not everyone has been in a situation where they’ve had to embrace patience, but sometimes you have to do it alongside someone else.”

This isn’t to say that I’m not striving to get better. I am. I’ve come a long way and am working hard to accomplish even more. However, patience has been key on this journey.

Please be patient with me.

Erika lying in bed with a dog
Erika lying in bed with a dog

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Originally published: January 11, 2016
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