Chronic Illness, Support Network

Why Helping Others Is The Best Drug For Chronic Illness

Recently I had three friends reach out to me at the same time for help. A friend of theirs went through hell and back due to a major surgical complication, and they thought of me. I wonder why? I have no experience when it comes to surgery. I kid I kid. In fact, I’d call myself an expert when it comes to surgery. On top of that, there were parallels from what happened to her and the adversity that I have faced in my life too.

After many phone calls with all three of them to learn what they knew, get a feeling for what their friend was going through, her personality, and how they thought I could help, I jumped at the chance to assist another spoonie. Why? Because it’s what I do and it’s what we all should do.

Helping others within your specific community or another one similar to it is like a drug. It’s something I can’t say no to. I’ve been working on saying “no” in a variety of areas in my life, but this is one that word will never come close to applying to. There is a feeling you get when you help someone else in need and connect with them on a deeper level.

And that is the most significant part, a connection that can’t be described in other areas of your life happens when you talk to another patient in need. I’ve always found it incredible how walls are no existent and complete strangers can immediately begin talking like they’ve known each other for a lifetime. No matter what the disease, we all fight every single day and that develops a bond with all other patients in the world before you even meet.

I went into this situation with a little bit of hesitancy. This person was very healthy before the surgery, yet she woke up with her life completely changed. It’s something I can’t relate to because all of my operations were elective and I knew how I’d be waking up in most, if not all cases. I couldn’t imagine what it is like to go to sleep one way and wake up with your entire life heading in a different direction.

Still, I knew I could help since we now had so much in common. Even though she was of the fairer sex, I was able to relate to what she was going through, and also knew what she would be going through in the future. Not only because I’ve spoken to many other female patients about their journeys, but because there are fights that we all go through and chronic illness doesn’t care what sex you might be.

As usual, I started out with no filter. Telling her that I am not like many other guys she’s met and that I would be an open book. She started laughing and from then on the conversation was nonstop. It was hard to hear what she was going through and everything that happened. She had a ton of questions and thoughts on her mind that ranged from

How would I date still? How would intimacy be? How would work be? How will my day to day be?

And many many more questions on top of those. To give you an idea of the depth of our conversation, I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 and didn’t leave until close to 8:30. And the crazy part is, it flew by. Felt like maybe 90 minutes at best. Almost like Avengers End Game. Walk into a 3-hour movie, and it just went by in no time.

But that is what I want to circle back to. Helping another patient is like a drug. It’s a high that is hard to explain because a conversation starts, and then a ton of time went by, and you don’t know how the clock speeds up. It’s not only good for the soul, but it’s also addicting for the mind. There were many times during the three hours when she clearly looked like a weight was taken off her shoulders. She knew life would be different, but she also knew it would be okay and that I would be there not only as her new support network but a friend as well.

So if you have the opportunity to help someone else in the spoonie community, don’t pass up the chance. It will not only be a fantastic deed to help someone else in need, but it will also be a dose of a potent drug that will make you feel incredible in so many ways.

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