A little support from well-known strangers

Last night was a bad night.  A very very very very very very very bad night.

After 6 weeks on a strict elimination diet, I thought I was done with the bad GI episodes.  The daily and near-daily nausea, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, and abdominal pains were gone and I was thrilled.  I also hadn’t had an episode in a while.  For me, an “episode” involves diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pains so bad that I start to wish for death.  An hour feels like 10 hours and I wonder if it will ever end, even while a little voice in my head tries to tell the rest of me that it’s only temporary.  It’s hard to believe that voice.

I love Tuesday nights in general because it’s the night of the Chronic Babe chats.  I rarely make plans in the evenings, but when I do, I try to avoid Tuesday nights.  There’s a great community there that’s so different from anything else, and I always leave the chats feeling better than I did when I started.

So last night a friend wanted to come by to pick something up from my place.  I told her she’d have to leave by 9pm because of the chat and she completely understood.  I felt a bit off all afternoon, and 10 minutes before she was due to arrive I started feeling really lousy.  I didn’t cancel, though, because I figured she was already on her way and I knew I could always kick her out if need be.  She’s an old friend who understands.  Besides, I was trying hard not to admit there was a problem.  So she came and we chatted a bit, and all the while I was feeling worse and worse.  I finally asked her to leave.  I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I was in denial.

Then it hit.  The GI symptoms were as strong as ever.  It didn’t make sense – this was supposed to be over!  I sucked on the Pepto tablets and rocked back and forth on the couch, running often to the toilet, hoping it would be over soon.  After what felt like several hours I looked at the clock – it had been 30 minutes.

Eventually the symptoms lessened enough that I was able to pass out on the couch.  A while later I woke up and stumbled to my bed.  Thank goodness.

And this morning I got the most wonderful treat: two of the other regulars in the chats had emailed me, each asking if I was ok!  I had told one of them I’d definitely be there last night, and I’m usually there every week, so they were concerned.  How sweet!

The amazing thing is how much we know about each other without actually knowing each other.  I’m still a bit paranoid about anyone finding out who I am, so no one knows my name, even my first name.  No one knows anything that could identify me.  And to be honest, I don’t know much about them either.  I know one’s occupation.  I know one’s first name.  I know about their pets and families… but I don’t know who they are.  Just like they don’t know who I am.  This is a new experience, having a support network of people I don’t know.  It feels odd, but I like it.  I like that we care about each other and that we understand each other.  I like that we do not place any demands on each other, but we are still there to support each other.

And I love that I found two caring messages in my inbox this morning, when no one else had even known I was especially ill.  It makes a big difference.

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