There are many things that we lose as a result of chronic illnesses. It is freedom of choice, independence even control over our body at times. The one loss that seems to hurt the most, for many, are the relationships that we once had due to the limitations of our circumstances. When you can no longer run as you used to then you can find that path in life gets less crowded. Change is one inevitable fact in life. As time goes on people have children, they get married, move or just grow up. No matter what the cause, people change and their spheres of influence do as well.
I have read accounts of people with chronic illnesses have have lost touch with close friends, spouses and family because their illness(es) had just become too much or simply because their situation had changed. Imagine having a close person in your life that ran the same way you did or shared the same interests. Often times when someone is ill you make time to go visit them, send a card, a gift basket or even balloons. You take time out of your life to let them know that you care. Acute illnesses are disruptive to all people affected and you find ones that are eager to rally around to give support. However, what happens when the illness is chronic? You see that lovely crowd of people that meant well eventually thin out to one or two dedicated ones or perhaps no one at all. This yet another casualty of being chronically ill.
I experienced both sides of the coin, one as the fading friend and the chronically ill person. My life was forever changed almost ten years ago with the onset of several symptoms that were unexplained at the time. I had no diagnosis and each time I had an episode it felt like I was going to die. My focus of importance was my children and trying to stay alive. I didn't know what was happening and it was even hard to explain to my own family. I saw the people I that knew thin out more and more. I stopped reaching out people and I stopped showing up to events. I could no longer manage it. My singleness of mind was on this specter that took over my life. It is hard to explain to people that something is happening to you and that you can't say what. In fact most people I was friends with ten years ago, I don't even speak to anymore. No one is as fault really, just the lack of communication. However, if anyone bothered to ask, I would tell them what I could.
I too was one of them. I lived a very busy life. I had friends in different circles and I traveled in and out of each of them. I was also a mom of two so that kept me busy as well. In your twenties you do not expect to have close friends who are chronically ill. I actually didn't expect that to happen until I was much much older. However, I had a dear friend who had a kidney condition that eventually left her on dialysis and with a major amputation. While I was still in New York I made time for her. Even when I moved away and I tried to keep in touch but the distance was too much and my life here began to change. I drove to be by her side when I heard of her amputation because I was told that at she might not make it. Thankfully, she did but the distance was too great. Now I hope that she is still with us and doing well.
Being on both sides, I can see how life just happens. I don't harbor bad feelings at my family or friends that I lost contact with those years ago. I am fine and I am living. Some days more slowly than others but I am still here. If any of them ever read this just know that there is nothing you did nor I. Life just intervened and I wish you the best. I am thankful to be alive. My day to day is different. I need more help these days but my smile is just as bright.
One day at a time.