They spent nights in diners with me when I didn't want to go home and helped me escape a horrific relationship and pulled together to keep me safe. They shared in the joy when I met someone new, and encouraged me to be happy. But then something terrible happened, I became really ill, I laid in my bed all day crying in agony until my boyfriend drove me to my parents and we spent weeks trying to get a diagnosis from my GP, I was in so much pain and so ill I couldn't eat, I could barely keep water down and my heart would race if I had to stand up.
|Happier times before I was ill|
One morning my parents were so worried about me that they called a paramedic and that gloomy January morning I was admitted to hospital. I laid in a hospital cubicle for hours whilst the doctors tried to work out what could be wrong and found me a bed on a ward. 8pm that evening my parents had to leave and I was all alone, the hospital staff weren't the friendliest and treated me like I had some infections disease and shut me in a room with no windows for a couple of hours whilst I waited to be taken to the ward. A nurse in A&E had flushed my vein too hard and I was in pain and couldn't move my arm or get it comfy, life had hit an all time low. About midnight I was taken in a wheelchair to a ward high up in the hospital block, it was dark and quiet and I laid in the bed and cried. I was alone, scared and hurting. I had never been in hospital before so this was a scary experience for me and I longed for a familiar face to be sitting beside me to say it was all going to be ok.
The next morning I just lay there in the early silence waiting for goodness knows what. I heard the rattle of what was to become the very familiar sound of the tea cart, manned by a very sweet lady who seemed to really care, she smiled kindly and asked if I would like anything until she spotted the nil by mouth notice above my bed. She said she would find out if I was allowed a drink and quickly returned smiling and nodding. She gave me a cup of tea, but as I put the cup to my lips the smell instantly put me off and I couldn't bear to drink it, so I just continued to lay.
Within an hour I was almost passing out in the shower, vomiting everywhere. That's what happened to me whenever I tried to stand up, my body would suffer severe exhaustion and I would be sick. I was so weak that I couldn't even sit up in bed, my body wasn't strong enough to hold me up. The next few days were full of pills, pills to help the problem and pills to counteract the issues other pills would cause, I would dread the nurses coming around with the drugs trolley as it meant it was time to take another plethora of pills all whilst trying to combat nausea.
The drugs trolley wasn't the one that filled me with the most dread though, that was reserved for the phlebotomist. I had been tuned into a human pin cushion, and had to have blood taken every day so they could monitor me, I have a phobia of needles and having to face my fear everyday was terrifying. At one point a trainee doctor was sent in to practise on me and me such a hash of it my whole arm turned black and blue. I looked like a horror story.
For anyone who has ever been in hospital for an extended period will know there are two things that keep you going and define your day, the sound of the tea/food trolley, and visiting hours. You wake up and count down the minutes until they bring your breakfast round, then you count down the minutes until the next tea break, then lunch, then visiting hours and hoping a familiar face comes to sit with you for a short while. There was more than one occasion where I cried like a baby when visiting hours were over and my boyfriend had to leave.
I felt so isolated and lonely, I had gone from the social girl so full of life to an empty shell spending my days on a hospital ward with women old enough to be my grandmother! I longed to see my friends, to laugh and hear all the gossip. But they didn't come.
My boyfriend and another friend apparently tried to arrange for them to come and visit me, my boyfriend even offered to drive to a tube station just outside of London to get them so they didn't have the hassle of getting trains all the way. They came up with lots of excuses as to why they couldn't, one even said "oh its like 30 stops, but I'll send her some flowers instead" you're not allowed flowers in most NHS hospitals and anyhow I didn't want flowers, I wanted to see my friends! I felt so insignificant to them, and I was incredibly hurt. I wasn't important enough for them to come and visit me in my time of need and I became even more lonely.
One of the girls from the group came down that day and spent some time with me, we went down to the Costa Coffee in the waiting area and spent some time catching up, I was so grateful to her for coming and I don't think she will ever realise how much that meant to me. For the friends that did visit me I am forever thankful, for the ones that didn't, you hurt me more than you'll ever know!
I spent two long weeks in hospital, but I quickly became ill again when I left. In May 2012 a friend got married and we travelled down to Kent to attend her wedding. I was excited and nervous to see all my friends and ready to let bygones be bygones. Standing in the hallway of the registry office I saw the group of friends walk in and eagerly said hello, rather than being excited to see me they instead looked horrified and awkward and barely said anything to me at all. When inside they all went and sat together on a row that left no space for me so we took a seat on the other side of the room. I felt embarrassed at how they were treating me, I didn't want my boyfriend to see me upset so I just shrugged it off.
Once outside for the photos, more of the same continued. They chatted amongst themselves and left me out. When it was time to head over to the reception venue we offered a lift to friends that needed it but no one wanted to come in the car with us apart from the one friend who visited me in hospital. I felt more and more isolated and awkward, and to make matters worse I started to feel unwell. We had been standing for a long time and I was growing tired and for me that meant one thing, I started to feel nauseous. The colour drained from my face, and I was finding it hard to stand. By the time we were shown to our tables I had to run off to the toilets and was sick, I was gone for quite some time yet none of my friends came to check on me considering my boyfriend could hardly stroll into the ladies to see if I was alright! It was as if I didn't matter at all to them, they couldn't care less if I was alright or had passed out in the bathroom.
|I was pale and unwell, still trying to reach out to my friends|
I made it back to my table and managed to get through the meal, by the time the evening disco started I was completely exhausted and all my friends were sitting around another table without my boyfriend and I, so we decided it was time to head home. He helped me back to the car and I burst into tears on the way home, I have never felt so hurt, isolated and insignificant to the people I cared so much about. The friends I'd shared so many memories with treated me as if I was a leper.
In the months that followed they barely spoke to me, they chatted through a new Facebook message thread that I wasn't in and they slowly forgot about me. They sent the obligatory invites to birthday events, but I didn't feel the need to attend another gathering where they would make me feel like an outsider, and I resentfully thought why should I travel all that way for their birthday when they considered it too far to travel to see me when I needed them.
I was particularly hurt by one member of the group as we were quite close, she had turned to me on many occasion with troubles and I was there for her during hard times, travelling out to sit in a coffee shop one evening when she called distressed that her boyfriend had just dumped her for the world's most stupid reason. Staying up late texting her when she freaked out that her boyfriend had told her by text he loved her, among other personal issues. She turned to me and I listened and helped as much as I could. And yet in my time of need she was nowhere to be seen!
It's been 3 years since all of this, and it still hurts and I'll admit that I've cried whilst writing this because it made me re-live all the painful memories again and how betrayed I felt by them.
Moral of the story is, friends are supposed to be there for the good and the bad. Don't under estimate how much you mean to some one and how the smallest thing you could do could make their day. If you ever have a sick friend, just remember they are the same person, you don't need to treat them differently or feel awkward around them. They still just want to hear about how much you hate your boss, or how annoying your boyfriend is being at the moment and the awesome burger you ate at this new restaurant you found that you'll take them to when they are better. Don't abandon them because you don't know what to say, that's the worst thing you could ever do!
If you have a friend story, good or bad please post in the comments below. I would love to read your experiences.