If they’re your best friend, then of course you know everything about them that there is to know.
There’s no denying that, or the fact you are one of the biggest factors in their life to most likely give them the drive and motivation to fight through their illness.
But unless you are a sufferer of Inflammatory bowel disease, there are a couple of things you won’t know.
I’m not talking secrets or other things kept from you, I’m talking a few things influenced by the illness that may have had somewhat an impact on things that have happened in the past – and may happen again in the future.
I’m talking the fact that you probably mean more to them than you’ll ever know. You are what keeps them going. Your constant commitment to your friendship is comfort to them that you’re not going anywhere. They appreciate that more than you’ll ever know.
You keep them grounded. When their illness gets too much and their symptoms keep them bed-bound for a day, you’re a reminder of all the times they’ve been able to leave that bed to enjoy life.
You make them feel safe. With Inflammatory bowel disease comes the fear that people are going to walk out and leave due to not being able to cope with the stress of unpredictable flares and trips to the hospital.
You’re the one consistent thing that they’ve always had. You’re the one thing that keeps them going.
While for others, their ‘best friend’ may be the person of whom they have the most fun with, the best nights out with or the person they argue with the least, to them, a ‘best friend’ means someone who will stick around no matter what.
Because of this, your best friend, who has Inflammatory bowel disease, will feel guilty. They’ll feel guilty because they fear that they cannot offer you what you offer them.
They can lend an ear, offer advice, but they will not be able to drive over to your house at 3am because a boy broke your heart if they are in the hospital with a nasty flare. They may not be able to be there for you as physically as you are for them, and that scares the hell out of them.
But because of this, they will try extra hard to be there for mentally. They will sit and listen to you pour your heart out for hours if it means creating the same impact as would be created with them driving over to you.
They will put your needs before theirs, because your happiness is what matters to them most.
Your best friend who lives with this chronic illness wants to thank you for all those times you’ve said ‘It’s okay’ when they couldn’t join you on a night out or for dinner. They want you to know that while you were disappointed, yet understanding, they were laying in bed holding back the tears.
Holding back tears because they so wanted to join you. They so wanted to have fun. They so wanted to bask in your being and simply forget about the illness for a few hours.
When your best friend is not flaring, they appreciate the time spent with you more than anything. They cherish those times where it’s just you and them. Two best friends; enjoying life the way it should be.
Though they know that those times won’t last for ever – the comfort that they will come back, because you’ve promised never to go anywhere – makes all the injections, all the steroids, the countless medication, the surgeries and the recoveries worth it.
Why? Because they know that at the end of it all, they have someone to recover with. You.
Words by Hattie Gladwell