September 12th, 2011


Chronic Health Thing #712

I've been on every side of the issue I'm about to talk about. I am not saying that I only do one of the things here.

But there's this thing that happens when you have a chronic health problem. I expect it happens for other chronic problems as well. And that thing is: your friends will sometimes ask your closer friends/family members how you are doing.

And that's great! They're expressing concern, they're finding out the parameters of whether there's stuff they can help's all good.

Where it gets less good is when they ask these other people and don't talk to you.

I'm not talking about the situation where someone is asking after you to be polite and express concern for the person who is closer to you, and only indirectly for you. This will happen. "How is your aunt?" is a polite social query even for those who don't know your aunt.

And I totally get why this happens. There are lots of good reasons. Sometimes Friend A runs into Closer Person B in person a lot more often than they run into you, or else they have an ongoing e-mail thread that provides opportunity. Sometimes Friend A really, truly, sincerely doesn't want to bug you. Figures you have enough on your plate. Doesn't want to make every conversation about your health problems.

This works much better if Friend A then goes on to talk to you about other things, at least occasionally. Like, within a span of months would be good.

I know everybody's busy. I know people don't really know how to talk about chronic health problems. And I know that it's sometimes hard to remember that you haven't actually connected with someone when, well, there's lj! There's Facebook! There's Twitter and Google+ and who knows what-all else, and how can you say that a friendship has drifted apart when you were reading about what the other person had for lunch just yesterday? But friendships do drift. And one of the ways they drift is when we let someone shift into a de facto "friend of a friend" role without meaning to. Friendships ebb and flow--I'm not trying to say they don't. But I'm also saying that it's fairly easy to fail to notice that they're ebbing and then ebbing some more until there isn't much friendship there.

Sometimes we have to accept that that's who we are to someone, a friend of a friend, a cordial acquaintance, someone we used to be friends with, someone we used to send a Christmas card to. But when it happens because of a chronic illness--because someone "doesn't want to be a bother" or "doesn't know what to say," even, beyond the usual "I have less time and energy because of this illness" direct stuff--that can be pretty frustrating. And it can be pretty lonely. And having Closer Person B to give you a list of the people who totally mean you well does not always help if you never hear from a single one of those people.

I guess this is a place to say that things had gotten better for me for awhile, and now they're getting worse again, and we're dealing with it as best we can, with appropriate specialists and consultations called in. And things that I'm not eager to talk about in public, I am a lot more willing to talk about on e-mail when people make it clear that they care--but I'm not going to hunt people down and insist that they hear it all. I am not at a point where posting this sort of thing to my lj is likely to be the order of the day (and no, that's not because it's on my FB or G+). So go ahead and ask a closer friend of mine if you know one well. But talk to me too if you want to. I'm still here.