How to not be an ass when your friend or loved one has HG (or is chronically ill)

Being chronically ill is depressing and isolating. You’re out of touch with everyone else, managing your daily needs can be a chore and if you’re illness is severe enough, the very idea of getting up and going to the bathroom can be a feat in and of itself.

I am still part of a support group over on for people with HG (hyperemesis gravidarium) and many of the women over there don’t have any real life support. Their friends and family don’t know how to deal with them, don’t know anything about this disease or don’t want to, and generally ignore or are passive aggressive towards the ill person.

I’ve experienced some of this and it hurts. A lot. When the people who love you or, who you thought cared about you, don’t seem to want to have anything to do with you when you’re going through a bad time, well it can be damaging.

When I first got sick, I had hope that it would end at four months. Once that didn’t happen and the sickness worsened, I began to get depressed. Between hormones and the feeling that no one understood or cared or that I was somehow being punished, every day was a trial.

I don’t usually ask for help. But I told my friends and family that I was sick and what I had wasn’t just normal morning sickness. It wasn’t going to go away, adjusting my diet wasn’t going to help, and simply putting on a happy face wasn’t going to make me well.

I was lucky, I immediately gathered a support group. Not through anything I asked or wished for but simply because I was immensely lucky to have certain people in my life who cared about me and my health enough to support me through this. My husband is one of them.

It was trying to get certain family members to understand what was going on. I came up against a wall. They either didn’t want to know or didn’t care or in some cases thought I was making a mountain out of a mole hill.

That hurt the most.

Some of the women I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of interacting with have had it much much worse. Their HG, more severe than mine, confined them to their beds and made them slaves to the vomiting and nausea that consumes us all.

No one knows much about HG. It is a disease. It’s a chronic illness with varying level of severeness but with one thing in common. There is no cure. There is a chance of a respite and there is always a chance of a relapse in the worsening of symptoms. I have a mild case. If I get pregnant again, there is a very high percentage stating that I will jump from mild to medium or severe.

It’s hormonal and it’s chemical and that’s only the current theory.

I’ll tell you what it is though. It’s a scary and unbiased beast that will attack and keep you pinned down even while you’re screaming “Uncle”.

It can shutter you in a dark place that exists only in your own mind and create such a siphoning void of exhaustion and despair that depression is the only option.

From weeks 28-39 the HG slammed into me. Vomiting, extreme fatigue, headaches, horrible nausea, dehydration and just general irritability. At around week 31, I started shunning my support group because I began collapsing into myself. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to give birth. I just wanted relief. I would’ve done anything. In fact I did. I did accupressure, I walked, I walked some more and did more accupressure. Anything to feel like I was doing something.

I leaned more on my internet group because I didn’t have to talk and they knew, more than anyone, what I was going through. Reading their stories, telling mine, got me choked up a few times.

I was also lucky and had people that educated themselves on what was going on with me. For that I can’t help but be very grateful. However, the truth of the matter is; the only people that will ever know, with 100% clarity, what you’re going through are the ones that have gone through it or are going through it.

This is true for many chronic illnesses. I will never understand what a cancer patient or AIDS goes through because I have never had those illnesses. I can relate to some of their feelings but I can never fully understand.

But you know what, sometimes all a sick person needs is understanding.

From my own experience I can safely say that the people who will stick by you are the ones that will help you up rather than watch you lie there.

But here’s the thing folks, being a caring and thoughtful person costs nothing and if you’re not the caregiver or in the support circle, then NOT being a dick should be easy peasy.

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