Inevitably with Gastroparesis you will go through several periods of feeling completely isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. Due to society being so centered around food and being out and about, it makes it difficult to always join in with friends. Sometimes you are barely able to leave your couch, let alone meet up with some friends. As such, you frequently have to cancel or play things by ear and decide at the last minute if you are well enough to go.
Needless to say, this causes strains on many friendships. Personally, I have noticed that my friends began to start falling into two categories. There is the category of friends who try to understand and learn about Gastroparesis, are very flexible when it comes to making plans, and also get creative with the types of activities to do together. This category also sends notes of encouragement and tries to find small things to get you out of the house on occasion.
The other category of friends don’t understand Gastroparesis but know it can’t be fixed. Since they can’t “fix” me, they don’t know what to say to me. The combination of them not being able to understand or fix me causes them to start to distance themselves. I don’t believe this is a conscious decision, but nevertheless it occurs.
I will say that over the course of the past year with my Gastroparesis flairs becoming more frequent, lasting longer, and hitting harder, I have been both amazed and saddened by humanity. It is extremely difficult when people start falling into the second bucket. You want to try to hang on to them, but simply do not have the energy to. (As mentioned in previous blogs, there is a limited energy supply with Gastroparesis so you have to use your energy wisely.)
Energy is better spent on getting out of the house for a creative meet up with the friends from the first category. These friends might not talk about Gastroparesis much but you can tell that they have researched it on their own. They also seem to know that just seeing each other in person from time to time helps give me an energy boost. They will stop over at the house for a short visit, have me over to theirs, meet for coffee, go to yoga, or just go sit on a bench and chat. They make you feel as though your life is at least partially what it was like before all of the Gastroparesis flairs. They wait for me to bring up GP and will gladly talk about it, but also know that there are other subjects out there.
So tonight, I am looking forward to having a couple of friends over to the house to play board games. I’ve had to abruptly cancel on them several times in the past few months and they have never once complained or been remotely upset. They would wish me well and then hope for the best next time. These are the types of friends that are worth expending the limited Gastroparesis energy supply on and I thank my lucky stars that I have a lot of them.