A while back a friend had to have a planned surgery with a long recovery time. He told friends about it in advance, letting them know that he’d appreciate food, help with errands, and just being kept company during his recovery. He set up a calendar online where people could sign up for time slots to visit him. Everyone stepped up and he was well cared for, without his partner being completely overwhelmed with taking care of him while still working her full time job and managing the house.
When you have a chronic illness, it doesn’t work that way. The needs aren’t short-term and they’re often not as predictable. I never know a month in advance which days I’ll need help preparing dinner, going grocery shopping, or picking up prescriptions. I don’t know in advance which days I’ll be stuck at home and lonely and wanting company. And even if I did know these things, it’s hard to ask for help month after month, year after year, decade after decade. I don’t want to burden anyone.
That’s why I think that one of the few benefits of a chronic illness is that you see how amazing other people can be. I’ve had friends pick up groceries for me, bring me cleaning supplies, and get my prescriptions when I wasn’t able to get to the pharmacy. Every spring people put in my air conditioners and every fall they remove them. Friends change their plans so they can keep me company at my place. The amount of support has been incredible.
We’ve had some humidity this past week and it’s been pretty unpleasant. A friend had said he’d put in my air conditioners for the season, but he doesn’t live very close and won’t be by for a another week or two. I could wait, but already I’m sleeping badly and I’m having trouble breathing today. Those aren’t good, and they definitely won’t help my poor adrenal system to recover. What to do? I put out a call on Facebook and I was stunned at the response. I had figured it was just a more passive way of asking the usual folks for help. Instead, I got offers from people who I haven’t seen in years! I got offers from people who are more acquaintances than friends! They just want to help. How amazing!
So suddenly I had this long list of people who could help me. I had one scheduled for Sunday. Others said they’d help next week if my Sunday person fell through. There was still the original offer. And then today a friend called to say he’d come by to drop off something he’d borrowed. I’d thought about asking for help with my air conditioners but I didn’t want to impose since he’s already helping me out with something else. So imagine how floored I was when he asked if the a/c’s had been put in yet and if I needed any help!
I see a lot of bad stuff in the world. Sometimes I’m treated quite badly because of my health conditions. But sometimes I see how good and generous people truly are. I’m thankful that I get a glimpse of that from time to time. I sure don’t take it for granted!
I turned on that lovely a/c today and basked in the cool, clear air. It felt amazing. And I bet I’ll sleep well tonight.