The internet is a treasure trove for people living with a chronic illness. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the internet has nourished me in ways I couldn't have imagined.
I'd been in exile for many years, too sick to read or type. Too sick to think.
I was more fortunate than many with CFS. I had family around me, and a naturopath in Dr. Kelly Upcott who was treating me. But I had no contacts with my town or old friends. It was a crushingly lonely time.
Then my husband bought me a laptop and things began to change. Well, not right away. For the first week, I turned my computer on once a day. Checked the bank account, and my email. Nothing happening in either place. Then, I took a deep breath and began ... to write. Looked for work online. Started my website, ncubator.ca.
We chronics are an isolated bunch. Low on energy, we can't do much. Forgotten by the world around us, the thought of trying to get back in is daunting; the logistics take on mammoth proportions. But if we can type a few moments a day, if we can think for a bit, we can send out our message in a bottle, asking "Is anyone out there?" We can tap the wall and listen for a response from another part of the cavern.
And, by golly, responses ping back. It's like water for a person dying of thirst. Like air for a person suffocating. Response.
Every chronic should have a computer. We use them for all kinds of things.
1. To make small talk
When you don't have the opportunity to chat with the store clerk, or the waitress who serves your lunch, or people in your office, you can't know the hole that absence of small talk leaves in a life.
The first thing I did was join Facebook and find people I could make small talk with. Man, I needed it! Talked about the kids, our hair, car troubles, something funny the dog did. I ate it up. I dished it out. It was the highlight of every day for as long as I could manage to think straight.
2. For friendships
I hadn't had friends in so long, I could hardly remember what it was like. But as relationships blossomed online, it all came back. I thrived on it. Was reassured by it. See? I'm here.