Friends and illness

The good thing about getting deathly ill is that you find out who your friends are. They stay by you. Even if you are misdiagnosed, labelled, ignored.

It is harder to ignore me now that I am on oxygen. It is difficult to chalk oxygen up to a rumored behavioral health diagnosis. When you have pneumonia and are confused, that is called delirium, not mania.

The bad thing about being deathly ill is that you find out who is NOT a friend. They disappear like rats leaving a sinking ship. Actually I like rats better.

I have one person who says, “I like you well, not sick.” Um, I would rather stay well too. But having seen fully 20 specialists, including four pulmonologists since 2012, a cure seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Meanwhile I seem to be getting stronger in pulmonary rehabilitation. Treadmill, classes about the lungs, stretching and weights.

Another person states, “if you get sick again, I am gone for four months.” Not a friend, right? Not a true friend and never ever will be. They do not understand friendship.

A true friend shows up at my house in 2012. I am lying on my bed using my father’s oxygen. She glares at me. “YOU are coming to MY house.” My reply: “OK.” I survive, even when the hospital sends me home with strep A pneumonia and delirium. Helps to be a physician, though I had to just trust myself, even delirious. The true friends help save me. I can’t even say how grateful I am.

I have a new friend. She is ill. It is progressive. Her husband seems so surprised that I come to see her. But I know how terribly lonely it is to be abandoned when you are ill. I have been there four times.

Blessings on the true friends.

Here is my sister’s blog. I remembered this post as “caged”, but her word is “trapped”.

My sister died of breast cancer in 2012.

Over The Rhine – The Laugh of Recognition

3 thoughts on “Friends and illness

  1. lifelessons says:

    So sorry about your sister

  2. Paula Light says:

    I’m so sorry! That’s horrible how “friends” have treated you. Actually, I had a similar though milder experience with someone. She became ill and needed surgery. I drove her into LA and tried to help as much as I could. I never minded if she canceled an event or left early. Fast forward a couple years. She’s 100% better, but my back began to hurt 24/7. I canceled on an event with her hiking group, and she never spoke to me again. Wtf? People are such selfish jerks!!!

    Take care ❤️

    • drkottaway says:

      It is complicated. My sister and I were very very close during her initial cancer treatment. When she went into remission, she stopped calling me back. I was in counseling and a divorce. I said, “I miss the intimacy.” My counselor said, “Some people can only be available when they are ill. Then they shut the intimacy down.” I said, “It really hurts.” She replies, “Yes, it does.” Sometimes people can accept help but can’t give it. They are the center of their worlds. But then sometimes they aren’t available because they have their own crisis. It is hard not to judge, but we don’t know. We can’t walk in their shoes.

Comments are closed.