Friday, March 28, 2008

Make New Friends but Keep the Old

Since my diagnosis, I have been astounded to see old friends come out of the woodwork to show their support for me. It was incredible that despite not speaking to people, some for as long as 10 years, I got emails and calls from them just days after I began to inform people about my diagnosis. I am amazed at the human ability to care about somebody years beyond physical or even verbal contact.

At first, I wasn’t sure if it was sympathy, guilt or genuine love that inspired these people to reach out to me. My initial thought was that they felt bad for not maintaining a closer relationship over the last few years. Maybe writing an email or sending me a message on Facebook was their way to get rid of any residual guilt that they felt and convey their sympathy at the same time. Then I realized that no matter the time or space in between seeing each other, these were people who really felt impacted from my diagnosis. I then realized that my diagnosis affected not only me, but the network of friends that I had built during my lifetime.

Hearing about MS and knowing somebody that has it are two completely different things. I think my diagnosis was a shock to most people because you don’t expect somebody you know to be diagnosed with something so serious at a young age. Anybody who knows me would tell you that I am vibrant, outgoing, and full of life. My MS diagnosis put a new face on MS for many people. It is important for everybody to realize that serious diseases such as MS can strike randomly and there are no precursors to their onset.

I am so appreciative for the support that I have gotten from my friends, old and new. This experience has even allowed me to rekindle old friendships and get back in touch with long-lost buddies. Although it might be hard to believe, there are some positive things that have happened as a result of my diagnosis. I truly believe that this is one of them, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

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