Friendship, support, laughter, tears, empathy, encouragement, pumped-up, sometimes chided, love, celebrating, stories, mental hugs, strength, me too!s, vent sessions, pre-approved pity parties. This list could go on and on and you know what? I should make a complete list, as if it could ever be complete, a list of everything that I have gained in my life since I ‘lost’ my health.
I’ve had a few people ask me what, if any, good things have I gotten out of this whole chronic-life experience and I don’t even have to dig around to find one. The people. The women and men that I’ve met since 2006 are amazing. Amazing! The most understanding, giving people I’ve ever had the pleasure to have known. Somewhere in the mix I have become a better person myself. I wasn’t so bad to begin with (tooting own horn here) but I really feel that I have become a better person by going through this whole process.
Tolerance. I have so many friends now who are different than me. We tend to gravitate to people who are ‘like’ us. People that we meet in our lives, say through work or friends, we make friends with the ones who are most like us. Politics, religion, city or country, rock or soul, baseball or football, coke or pepsi. It’s just the way it is. That seems kind of silly right? But it really is how we find our mates in life and the people that we trust the most. When you have a large group of people with the one thing in common that is so extreme; disease and suffering, all of those other factors just drop off. We get to learn about people who are different than ourselves. I’ve learned that I STILL love some people after having to endure the political onslaught that rolled down my newfeed pre-election. HAHAHA oh my. You know who you are Just using politics as an example, in the ‘real world’ i.e. pre-sickness, I probably wouldn’t sit down with someone with a zest for politics at the cafeteria at work because, hey, I would have to smile and nod while thinking ‘are you kidding me?’ And you can’t really start a friendship when you don’t have that common interest. Here’s where it gets good. When disease is the common interest, we learn to support, empathize, and build each other up for those really hard times. All of the other stuff falls off to the side and we get to know someone we might not have otherwise. Bonus! How lucky are we??? And what a way to be able to see people as a whole. Tolerance. It’s a good thing!
Third: understanding people better. I think that because of our loss, we gain a better understanding of all people. Our families that have to put up with a non-stop barrage of doctors visits, stuck in the bed times, seeing us at our base; worst and broken, fearing for our lives when we are in the hospital fighting for them. When you first get sick you think it’s all about you. Soon you realize it is far reaching and affects everyone who loves you. I can forgive myself now for being sick as it’s not a punishment. I can forgive my people who at times have been cruel though only through ignorance, and that went away pretty quickly as everyone wanted to learn all about the disease and what they couldn’t grasp on paper they got to witness first hand with someone they love. Love is the word that keeps popping up and man am I loved. And I love so strongly now, how could there have ever been another way??
OK, I want to share with you someone I met the other day. She has RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and writes the most awesome poems about her experiences. I sent her a message and asked if I could share one here and she said, yes! She is a very cool woman who I’ve no doubt that we will know each other for quite a while. You can just tell when you talk to someone that you will be friends, but instead of shrieking that out like the child that you are (meeeeee) you play it cool and use your big person voice and whatever social skills you have learned thus far. Don’t be afraid Donna, I’m not a creeper or a stalker. he he he he
Here’s a poem that I loved, and felt it. And am going to share it with you.
Sometimes I just want to turn RA off for a while,
One little switch could make me smile.
There are other things I need to do,
And other people who need me too.
I’d produce these switches and give them away,
To anyone suffering in any way.
Just turn off all pain and flip happiness on.
It’s my perfect invention that can’t go wrong.
Check out her page on Facebook
just click the link below