To Those Who Stayed

“Curled tightly in agony I edged myself over the side of my bed, collapsing in a heap on the floor. I held my breath as I forced myself to extend all four limbs, releasing the grip that held me still and lifting myself as best I could. I moved slowly, each step more painful than the last, as I made my way to the lounge. Clawing my way onto our spare bed I buried myself in the mound of pillows that greeted me and paused, listening. The silence meant I’d succeeded, my partner was still fast asleep where I’d left him. I groaned, tears pouring down my face as I clutched violently at anything within reach, trying desperately to ease the pain. My body shuddered uncontrollably, yet another sign that I had absolutely no control of what was going on.”

I don’t remember much more. I don’t remember how long I stayed there, nor how long the pain lasted. I think I went into some kind of trance, only coming to when I heard the creak of the door and saw the silhouette of my partner moving hurriedly toward me.

Only a handful of times have I ever felt as grateful as I did that night when I felt David’s arms embrace me. Today I want to say thank you. Two words I most certainly don’t say enough. Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And that’s not just a thank you for David, who’s stood by me through the worst of it and continues to encourage me every single day. It’s not just a thank you for my parents who have tried their very best to understand what’s going on even though they feel helpless and so far away. It’s not just for my doctor who refused to give up until she had an answer. It’s for every single person whose been a part of my life in the last five years.

It’s for the friends who changed their plans and came to my place instead, simply because I couldn’t make it out anymore. It’s for those who told me they loved my walking stick and insisted I should bring it out more often. It’s for that little conversation we had about nothing-in-particular over a cup of coffee. It’s for the people who told me they believed me. But more importantly, it’s for everyone who stayed.

This must be about the single most cliché sentence in chronic illness blogging history but being chronically ill really does show you who cares. I have an amazing network of people around me who have no idea just how much impact they have on my life. Without them, my road to recovery would be a hell of a lot longer and infinitely more terrifying. With them, I know I have reasons to fight and the support I need to succeed.

I’ve wasted a lot of my time stressing about what people think and how far to push myself or go out of my way for others. It took a really long time for me to realise that actually, right now, my health comes first and those who really care will stick around regardless. They might never be able to understand what is truly going, why I do what I do or how I’m really feeling at any given moment, but that’s okay. What matters is that they stayed.

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