"Happiness is a Choice." quote taken from an interview of Drew Barrymore by Kevin Sessums

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Through out my life, I have noticed that you truly learn who your friends are when you are in crisis. The first time I experienced this since being a mom was when our oldest son suddenly became incredibly ill during our younger son’s birthday party in June 2005. Our oldest son has asthma and yet it was clear that what seemed like a mild cold the day before was suddenly much, much more. It was a Saturday, but his pediatrician was on-call. After speaking to his pediatrician twice and reporting his increasing temperature, he got irritated with me and said that if I was that concerned, I should take him to the ER. So in the middle of the birthday party, Mom and I took my oldest to the ER and immediately was he admitted with pneumonia. When we called Michael and told him what was wrong, I then spoke to a couple of adult female friends who were at the party and asked him to pack some things so I could sleep with him at the hospital. After the party was over, Michael brought the packed items and then went home with our youngest son while I stayed at the hospital. The next evening, I came home so that my husband could take a turn at the hospital while I returned calls and got some much-needed sleep. One of the calls was to my best friend who was also the godmother to both boys. I was exhausted so the conversation was short, but I told her how he was doing and I thanked her for helping pack things for me and also helping to pick up the house after the party. We made plans to talk again the next day. I left messages over the course of several weeks and even spoke to her mother who she lived with her and asked if my friend was sick or mad at me. No, she wasn’t sick and her mother didn’t know why my friend wasn’t returning my calls. To this day, we have not talked since. She hasn’t answered one email, one card, or one call. Recently my mom even called and left messages, one even with her mom, and still no return phone calls. Here I thought my best friend and the godmother to my sons would be there for me when one of my sons was desperately sick and instead she disappeared with no warning, no communication, no fight, nothing.

So when I was diagnosed with RSD, I was bracing myself for how people would react. My parents were upset because Mom knew exactly what RSD is and explained the diagnosis to my father. My brother was also upset and was also educated by my mother. They were taken aback that a woman who was always a tomboy and had bumped and bruised her way through life was suddenly a RSD patient. Yet despite everything, they have been by my side and have listened to all the highs and lows I have experienced throughout this journey.

But when it came to friends, word spread quickly among our school’s PTA that I was now ill. A dinner-delivery sign-up was put together by a PTA member and several dinners were indeed delivered to our home. Some women who barely even knew me signed up and indeed delivered some of these dinners to our home. Others who I knew better did not sign up and at the time I figured that they were too busy, didn’t want to cook, it was the holiday season or money was tight. I never took personally who didn’t sign up, but was incredibly grateful to those who didn’t even know me and yet brought these incredible meals.

So after the holidays were over and I continued to be symptomatic, it was amazing to see who called, who asked how I was and who even asked if there was something they could do. A couple of closer friends did all of these things initially and even suddenly dropped out of sight. Again, calls don’t get returned, emails are ignored and I don’t see them at all. It hurts me like crazy and I wonder if this is about the RSD or if this is just the way they are; they make friendships, dump them and then move on.

What has surprised me the most is that some of them were not what I would call “friends”; we didn’t have get-togethers beyond play dates and didn’t socialize outside school-related activities and yet I figured we had enough in common for them to at least check on me, ask if I was okay, or did I need anything. It was disappointing that they wouldn’t do the simplest acts of kindness.

However, what was surprising was how many people who I barely knew did indeed do these simple acts of kindness and, as a result, have become friends. It is not so much the act itself that makes it so special; it is the fact that they THINK to offer or THINK to call that makes this kindness extra special. It is nice when you don’t even have to ask because they offer instead.

Unfortunately it happens all to often that when someone is diagnosed with an illness, some people act is if it is “contagious” even if it isn’t the case. I’ve seen this happen to people who I have been literally at death’s door and I’ve seen this happen to people who have something that is permanent yet not fatal. Regardless of whether the person who does this is an acquaintance, a friend, a family member or a best friend, the pain caused by this “desertion” is indeed devastating. I wish people who have behaved this way recognize that indeed they could have done more for their friend in need and I also hope that this never happens to them. People need to learn that these acts of kindness not only help the person in need, but helps those who do the act learn more about themselves.

So to those who have been there by my side the entire time since my accident to now, thank you. To the friends that I am making now as a result of this blog, I understand how it feels if this has happened to you and you are not alone.

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