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Posted on 3. April 2014

Where Did Everyone Go?

By Tammie Allegro

Without hesitation, I can say that I have always been the life of the party. If there was something fun to do, I was the first one to sign up. If a group of friends was having a ladies night, I was always invited and, in most cases, would be the last to leave. I would always find myself surrounded by friends; at one time, I had close to 800 Facebook friends. I would always surpass my talk time and text allotment each month on my cell phone. I felt pretty popular. I would have confidently said my life was great.

A few years ago, I started feeling “off.” I noticed I was always tired and not always feeling “social.” I would find myself leaving events hours before they were over, and oftentimes, I would decline the invitation because I was so tired. When I did go out, it seemed I had lost my zeal. My fun personality was replaced by someone kind of negative because all I could think about was how terrible I was feeling. The pain had taken over my thoughts. I really just wanted to be home in my pajamas. Over time, my phone rang less and less. I had turned down so many invitations, people stopped asking. 

I know my good friends noticed my absence. They would always text me and check on me and call when they could. Still, over the course of the past four years, I have faded away from popularity to near obscurity. Now it would be easy for me to blame my friends, but I have to take ownership for my part. I wasn’t calling and checking on my friends like I used to. I wasn’t stopping by with treats and letting them know I was thinking about them. I didn’t have a name for what I was going through, so I didn’t really have a place to put the blame.  I just knew I was no longer the life of the party, and I missed the party. 

This change in my life and this illness I am dealing with has taught me a lot about the important things in life. I have a husband who is my best friend. We love spending time together. My daughters are also my closest friends. They get me, and they understand that sometimes I just need to take a nap. However, everyone needs friends who aren’t family. Even if you have one great friend, it can make a world of difference. I realized I had to change the way I viewed friendships; I no longer sought after quantity, I chose quality. Having just a few close friends who understand that if I text and just say, “Sorry, I can’t make it today,” they know I tried my best. The type of friends who you may not see all the time, but when you get together, no time has passed.

Another lesson I learned is that people who are healthy don’t understand how lonely and tiresome it is to be sick all the time. They have compassion, but until you have been chronically ill, you really can’t comprehend the challenges a patient faces. So I stopped trying to get them to understand. Instead, I spend my friendship time enjoying their company. I want to let go and laugh, and I know they do too. I am not in denial about my sick days; I am just choosing to spend time with friends focused on the friendship.

I may never be the life of the party again, and I am OK with that. I just want to be known as a good friend who loves the people in her life.

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Comments (5) -

Suzanne Colville
8:10 PM on Thursday, April 03, 2014

It was wonderful speaking with you today, Tammie.   I just read your blog and it has inspired me to stop focusing on making my "friends" understand CVID and to just enjoy their presence with me.  It's a hard thing to do when you always feel lousy, but it is a choice we can all make to see the cup half full that day instead of half empty.  It does help to have people that do understand the challenges of chronic illness and chronic pain.  Thanks for listening to me today, I really needed that and you were a true blessing in my life.  Take care and blessings.

April McGowan
9:01 AM on Friday, April 04, 2014

Great post. I've found that real friends don't disappear, either.I found a blessing in that part of chronic illness-what may hurt at first, allows you to see the depth of the ones that stay, and go deeper. They know I'm there for them, too.Many blessings.

Gail
2:32 PM on Friday, April 04, 2014

I have 4 good friends whom I have known for over 30 years. We share our ups and downs, know that each of us has had our trials, and support one another through them. While I have many acquaintances I enjoy being with, I treasure these 4 friends. They don't really understand CVID but do understand when I have to beg off a planned get together. Sometimes they do to - just for other reasons. Cherish a handful of close friends and make time for them when you can.

kelli
2:38 PM on Sunday, April 06, 2014

Thank you for this great article!  I really needed to read it today.  Chronic illness is so isolating and you're right, no one understands unless they've been through it.  I have two great friends who really get me and it makes all the difference in the world.  I'm sharing this article with my mom who has Lupus and has the same issue.  It's so hard to find people who understand!

Linda Thornrose
5:41 PM on Friday, August 01, 2014

Oh how I needed to read this and the comments just now!! I have had a horrible few weeks...a very nasty, itchy rash all over both arms that won't go away, and miserable.  Have been to doctor three times, called four, am on my fourth med, now a mega dose of prednisone now and as most of you know, that makes you even feel worse.  The only thing that helps is ice packs on my arms, constantly.  Cute!  Smile  On top of that, I am trying to get my 85 yr old mom, me and my very supportive husband ready for a big trip in a few days, and am so overwhelmed I am nearly paralyzed.  I know this too shall pass and I pray the rash will go away before we get on our long flight to where we are going.  So frustrating.  I have looked forward to this trip all year, but now I wish we could postpone it for a month.  It would cost $500 to change the flight, so that isn't an option at this time.  So, call me a whiner at this moment.  Thank God the tough times don't last, it just seems that way some times.  I am crying uncle.  Thank you so much for the encouragement.  Such a blessing.  It really helps!!  God bless all of you and may we all have more "better" days.  I have CVID and just had my treatment two days ago, and hoping it will help.

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