I am addressing this letter to each person in my life who does not personally suffer from chronic illness, but does suffer from the effects of mine. You cannot begin to understand the amount of guilt I carry because I have imposed on your life in ways that are not fair to any of you. Each person that I encounter on a daily or weekly basis is very instrumental in the journey I travel. Please take each word you read, hear my heart behind them and grasp the depth of my appreciation and apologies.
To my loving parents— I am so sorry for putting you through the years of pain, heartache and frustration as we faced the unknown monster of my health. None of us chose this life, but the amazing thing is that you still chose to love me anyway. I am sorry for the added expense, the weeks in the hospital, the late nights awake with me at home, and the hundreds of buckets of puke you’ve so graciously dumped for me. I need you to know that not only am I sorry for all the times you missed out on what you wanted to do because of me, but I also appreciate the sacrifices you have made for me. Thank you for being an example of how to handle struggles with grace and patience. I love you, and please- don’t give up on me!
To my dear husband— I am so sorry that you have to live through this unpleasant journey as well. The main difference between us is that I didn’t choose it, but you did, and I love and respect you even more for that. I am so sorry that I can’t always live up to your expectations of an active and fit lifestyle, I’m sorry that I can’t meet your “needs” each time you desire, I’m sorry that I cry and talk about how I feel often. I want you to know that I feel guilty on a daily basis for putting you through it all, but I also want to thank you for caring about my feelings both physically and emotionally. Thank you for attempting to learn all of the medical vernacular and gibberish that I already know like the back of my hand. Thank you for picking up the slack with the housework and doing so with a smile! Thank you for giving me something to wake up for and believing in me when I don’t believe in myself. And thank you for tackling this beast with me, hand in hand and heart in heart. I love you and please- don’t give up on me!
To my friends and family near and far— I am so sorry for the countless times I have needed to cancel our plans at the last-minute or for the periods of time that I have essentially fallen off the face of the earth. I want you to know that I feel embarrassed every time that situation transpires and it’s my prayer that you don’t assume that I am flaky or that I do not care about you or our friendship. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Honestly, there are instances where I can’t even muster enough energy or brain power to complete priority tasks, much less the things I would enjoy doing. With that said, thank you for the love and support, the care and concern and all of the understanding, and please- don’t give up on me!
To my boss and coworkers– I am well aware that it’s difficult and inconvenient for you and your work load when I am forced to randomly miss days of work without any warning. I hate it just as much as you (if not more) and I am truly sorry. I need you to understand that I can honestly say that I would rather be at work than at home because I am terribly ill or in the hospital hooked up to machines and medicine. (In case you don’t believe me, or understand the gravity of my situation please read my other post entitled When your Chronic Illness Flares and Doesn’t Ask Your Permission). With that said, please don’t consider me to be unreliable or assume that I am simply skipping out. I am extremely thankful that I can rely on you to pick up the slack on the days that I am absent. It’s tremendously helpful to be assured that my duties are covered so I have the ability to rest and recover. The guilt I carry for putting my burdens on your shoulders as well is enormous, but I appreciate your care and concern when I return, and please- don’t give up on me!
To my amazing doctor— Thank you for believing me! Thank you for investing time and care into my frequent visits to your office. Thank you for calling me on holidays to check on my progress since you just started me on a new medication. Thank you for thinking of me when you hear of new medications, treatments, tests or therapies. I can’t begin to adequately express my gratitude for you and the investment you have made into my health and recovery. Thank you for changing my life! We both are well aware that I have an intricate body and my case is extremely puzzling at times, but please- don’t give up on me!
I recognize that there are plenty of people who experience the exact emotions as I do and wish to portray those feelings to the people closest to them. I pray that this letter be a voice for those who are unable to express it themselves. I ask for all of you, whether I know you or not, please don’t give up on us! We hurt in ways you can’t imagine, and we are well aware that you hurt in your own way as well. We appreciate all you do and wouldn’t be where we are without your love, care and sacrifice on our behalf! So, again, thank you!