Like many with an ongoing illness, I am more of a hermit than a go-getter out roaming and wandering. I have a few people that I see and talk to on a regular basis, but I have not talked to many people I have known over the years in a very long time.
When I worked, I hung around with a group and we did things together. We were close and shared many things together. We tried to help each other with problems, shared sorrows and rejoiced in each other’s happiness. I have not seen most of them since I left work in 2008. Most of them have no idea how I am doing, what I am doing, or probably if I am still alive. Funny how we can be so close to people for years, but not stay in touch with each other when circumstances change and we are not around each other.
It really bothered me when I first had to quit working that people didn’t call or visit. But, after talking with others who had gone through the same thing, I realized it was not an uncommon thing to happen. Many others had gone through this and told me to try and get over it and know that I am not alone.
One lady that I hung around with a lot was named Betsy. She was a rather high-strung woman but a very devoted and loyal friend. She would get nervous over simple things and often worried about things to the point of making herself sick. We always took breaks and lunch together and would try to help each other with problems one of us were having. I really cared a lot for her and missed her when I left work. We talked a couple of times on the phone, emailed a little, but eventually our communications stopped. I missed her a lot.
Betsy was the type that could not face problems with people and often brushed them aside so as not to worry about them. When I first started going to the doctor and was diagnosed with MS, she “poo-pooed” this idea and told me I did not have anything so terrible as that. She said the doctors just liked putting big titles on things and trying to get more money by running tests and such. I knew she was wrong about this, but I also knew that it was her way of dealing with it. I guess I had decided to face my problems head on and do the best I could with them. We never talked about and stayed away from any conversation veering in that direction.
She has crossed my mind many times over these years, but I was not going to contact her. I know that she loves me. I also know that it would be hard for her to accept me as I am now. I did not want to have her see me with the handicaps I now have. This was not to be.
Howard and I went to the grocery store a few days ago. I don’t take my cane to the store since I have him and the cart to hold onto. I do not like to draw attention to myself any more than is necessary.
As we walked to the counter to check out, I turned around and was face to face with Betsy. She looked very stunned. We hugged each other, but she seemed so shocked and didn’t seem to know what to say. She asked a little about me, got my telephone number and said we should have lunch one day soon. I agreed.
I really don’t think I will hear from her. The look on her face nearly made me cry. She did not want to face the fact that my MS diagnosis was true and had “done a number” on me. I don’t think she could deal with the reality of being around me. She did not understand the slurring when I talk or the fact that I could not get from one place to the next without holding onto something. I really think it shocked her terribly.
I guess it is a shock to someone who does not go through the process with us one day at a time. To suddenly see the deterioration a disease can cause to a person is a shock I guess. It is also something that most people would not want to deal with and so they don’t pursue the friendship. I hate it, but I will be very surprised if I ever hear from her.
I read things people say on many sites. So many people want a relationship and feel that no one will ever love them and want to marry them. Others have lost many friends through their illness and just wish they had someone to share things with. My heart goes out to them and I wish I could “fix it” for them.
All of us have gone through one or more of these things. Often we have gone through this several times. It does not get any easier with each episode of rejection. Hopefully, we will always keep trying and find those people who will love and accept us as we are.