Today you are going to visit a friend with chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Here is a guide to the experience:
Expect a short notice cancellation. Your friend will have tried their best to be ready but there is still a strong chance that, despite resting in preparation and the fact they have been looking forward to your visit all week, they got out of the shower and didn’t have enough energy left to get dressed. Be gracious about the cancellation, they feel terrible about it.
Arrive on time. They have planned their day around your visit and it uses up valuable energy sitting up waiting for you to arrive. I know it seems like they are home all day so it doesn’t matter so much but I can tell you it does.
You don’t need to bring anything. Books to lend and flowers are the best bet if you don’t want to turn up empty handed. They probably have dietary restrictions, so if you want to bring food, check beforehand. They’ll just be glad to see you.
Offer to pick up groceries for them on the way over. Buying dishwasher tablets can be a day’s effort for them, or beyond. They’ll reimburse you when you arrive.
Make the tea. My darling friends do this when I’m not well enough and I really appreciate it.
Some people don’t like to be told they look good. Personally, I love compliments and would rather look good and feel terrible than look like I feel. Some days that would be scary and may frighten small children. So tell me I look pretty but don’t expect that to work on everyone.
Don’t stay long. You know your friend better than I do, so you’ll see when they are fading, but at my worst I could only really sit up for half an hour. It doesn’t mean they aren’t pleased to see you or didn’t enjoy your visit.
Leave things as you found them. Tea cups back to the kitchen. If your kids moved things, put them back. As soon as you go, your friend will go straight back to bed to rest.
Give them a gentle hug and don’t mind the tears. They might feel a bit more emotional than you are used to seeing, it’s tough. Just give them another gentle hug if you don’t mind.
Bonus friend points for bringing in their washing, unstacking the dishwasher, watering plants, putting a new doona cover on. Yes, these are all things I’ve asked my friends to do and really appreciated. Yes, I do have lovely friends. I hope you do too.
Tell me, would you give your visitors this guide?