I get tired of answering the same questions about my health and insurance woes from my family and friends all time, and they feel awkward about constantly asking. It would easy to just have them follow this blog, but I’m keep this blog anonymous, and only a select few know about it. So I send emails.
I don’t send too many emails, and the last one was several months ago. I always find it tricky. I want to include enough information to answer everyone’s questions, but not so much that the email is cumbersome to read. I want to cover everything, without overwhelming anyone. I want to share enough, but not too much.
There’s no guideline for this. There are online tutorials for writing the perfect business-related email. There are tips on writing difficult emails to a friend. But I’ve never heard anyone mention a group email to update friends on a chronic health condition. I try to keep the tone light, but informative. It’s serious, but not too heavy. I only started this a couple years ago, and most of the earlier updates were insurance-related, so it was easy to make fun of the system. It’s harder to make jokes when I’m writing about my health.
And then there’s the audience to consider. Close relatives and less close friends and everyone in between are all on the list. They’re all people with whom I feel comfortable sharing this info, so privacy isn’t a concern, but their knowledge is. The people who I’m closer to know a lot more about my health conditions in general and often the specifics that I’m dealing with at any given time. A good friend who I speak to less often won’t know these things. I know I need to include enough details for the latter to understand, but I don’t want to bore the former.
Now let’s say I find a balance for all of that. There’s still the issue of my own shyness around this stuff. I’m happy to answer questions, but feels so self-centered of me to send out these emails, as if everyone wants to know this stuff. I know that’s irrational. I know that they want to know – most of them get this email because they asked to be kept in the loop. I guess I’ve just never been good at being the center of attention for any reason.
I’ve been meaning to write this latest email for over a month. I’ve thought about it from time to time, but I just never got around to it. Today’s the day. I’m going to write it right now. I just wish I knew what I was going to say.
This is going to sound bad (and I don’t mean it to), but at least you have people to update. I have lost most of my friends since getting sick. Maybe they weren’t real friends to begin with, only there for the good times. I made new chronic illness friends but they’re all over this country and the world and I’m never going to meet them. As for my family, they couldn’t care less about my health. They don’t speak of it. It’s weird. The whole topic is taboo. My parents’ caretaker tried to convince my parents that there was nothing wrong with me and that I was just depressed. Now I have my Lyme diagnosis and she never even apologized.
Miss D, I’m so sorry to hear that! I know that I’m very fortunate to have the friends that I do. They’re all fantastic people. That isn’t to say that I haven’t lost friends, family, and romantic interests because of my health issues, but thankfully there have been plenty that have stuck around. I’m very grateful for them. I’m glad to hear that you do have online friends. It’s tough when you can’t get together in person, but it’s still so important to have people who understand.
Yeah, really. Not many friends left and none who ask how I’m doing. I still have my partner but he gets annoyed with me. He’s generally supportive though. As for my patents — I have to go there for Thanksgiving and they could not bring themselves to order one thing I could eat. I could see if it was a big group gathering, but it’s only them, me, and my partner. I mean, I will eat the turkey but come on, one plain vegetable? My mother told me to bring something for myself. Whatever—at least I’ll have something organic.
I’m sorry to hear that. I have the same issue with Thanksgiving. My sister didn’t ask about my food restrictions, and I’m going to have to assume I won’t be able to eat anything. I’ll bring a sandwich, and just watch the others eat. It sucks, but there’s nothing else to do about it.