What is it about illness that invites so much input from others? Everyone has an opinion and seem somehow emboldened by my vulnerability to express it, as if they have suddenly become the expert on all things health-related.
Since my diagnosis, I have been counselled to exercise more, eat more meat, eat no meat, get magnetic therapy, see a psychic, see a shrink (as it is surely all in my mind), and seek a second opinion. All offered with the best of intentions, I am sure.
One friend even called from her therapist’s office and said she was on her way to get me, as he was positive he could help me. “He says that what you’re doing is not enough,” she told me excitedly. “He has worked miracles with me.”
I have no doubt that he has helped her, and I bite back my desire to tell her that both he and she are being unbelievably arrogant as they have no idea what my course of treatment is at the moment, nor any idea what I have gone through to get to this point.
Diagnosis of ME/CFS does not happen haphazardly. It comes after a series of specialists appointments, eliminating other diseases, and adding up to this particular one. In my case, it has been four years of doctors, and testing, and worsening conditions that have led me to this point. In the meantime, I have also been working with therapists and experts to find healthy solutions – specific to my ailments!
What I want to tell others is that while I appreciate their concern, the discussions drain me, and while their friendship is treasured, I have to limit my interactions, so would prefer to not keep going over this sensitive subject. Trust me that healing is my number one priority, and that I am making healthy choices for myself.
Take a page from my friend, Naomi, who arrived for a visit last Monday.
“I can only stay for a quick visit,” she announced, then steered the conversation to a discussion about our mutual interest – grandchildren. After a precise amount of time, she said she had to go, and added:
“I know you are doing everything you can to get better, and I know you will be successful.”
Uplifted by her visit and vote of confidence, I saw her to the door, then headed for the fridge to find something for lunch. Imagine my surprise and delight to find a fridge full of fresh fruit, and a ready prepared dinner, plus a few other special treats.
In her unassuming way, Naomi brought me great comfort that day. Her actions, not just her words, spoke volumes in support of my healing.