From the father of linkage, Jay Lake:
Good stuff. Number 5 particularly rings true for me today.
#5. Friendships can be dramatically affected by illness.
I’ve also written about this before, but there’s no denying it: friendships and chronic health problems often don’t mix. Some of my friends have disappeared; others have stayed around, but our relationship has been changed by my illness.
Before I got sick, I loved to share the details of my life. But now those details are not so appealing: a catalogue of symptoms or a list of side-effects from a medication; the details of a doctor’s appointment. It took me several years to learn how to be a friend while sick. Now I try my best to focus on subjects other than my medical condition (some days I’m more successful than others). I’ve discovered that doing this can be a welcome respite from my illness.
Have you ever seen your friend’s face change into that weird mask of sympathetic tolerance while you’re talking about symptoms/health issues? It’s awkward. And before I got sick, I didn’t know that there was a “sick” type, although they do appear often enough in literature.
I’ve since worked with people who consider the coworker relationship an opportunity to discuss all their health problems.
Bottom line: I don’t want to be that friend, nor do I want to be that coworker. (Especially not that. Gack.) But I don’t want to be the sufferer in silence, either. I want people to be comfortable in asking me about ulcerative colitis, and not to worry that it and I will dominate the conversation forever and ever. I think her advice of conversational respite is spot-on.