Honestly? I've been extraordinarily blessed.
Yes, there have been negative experiences but this illustrates the mistake I made and I've seen many others make - anyone who would cast you aside over an unavoidable health problem is not a "friend", so let's stop dignifying them.
They have no place here.
My family shared all of my frustration - they worried with me about time off work, ranted with me when I'd yet again come up against an obstructive doctor, and held my hand when I just needed to cry. More importantly than that they reassured me that it was in fact perfectly acceptable to cry. It still makes me cringe thinking about how many days of work my self-employed Dad lost through that first year.
Dad was living with me so saw the best and worst of all of it, and I am very grateful for his patience and forbearance even when I was undoubtedly being a pain in the neck.
My Mum has been there in spirit all the time, although living in a different city caused its problems. She has an astounding ability to say the right thing at the right moment and puts up with all my ups and downs.
My partner is a hero. Because he sees it all - all the different facets and all the punishing trial and error, all the times I don't know where to go next or what to do - and never flinches. And I'll be the first to admit I am not the nicest of individuals when being in pain and lack of sleep combine. Hell hath no fury like a lady who's fed up.
(On a recent reconnaissance mission to scout the "outside" - posing as a wedding, naturally.)
"Immeasurably blessed" was not an overstatement. My friends are incredible - whether it's talking about the problems, accepting I don't want to talk about them, asking the right questions and not asking the wrong ones or just purely being there if and when needed, they are a treasure utterly invaluable.
One of the huge positives of my situation - and I am aware that seems an odd thing to say - is the friends I've actually made as a direct result of being ill. Some I already knew as acquaintances and the friendship developed through the common ground of ill health. Fellow bloggers Jenny and Shane are two such examples - and I'd ask anyone who has taken the time to read this to have a look at their blogs too. There are more and I'm grateful for each and every one. Through writing this blog I am constantly coming into contact with new people and it's been a very uplifting and cathartic experience.
To finish - you'll no doubt have noticed the talk of Bloodstock Open Air in So Say We All? Well, one of said friends and I have a pact to fight (or maybe enlist help!) our way to the front on the Saturday evening for Avantasia's first UK appearance.
Image courtesy of powermetal.cl)