I doubt many know that my first dealing with health issues occurred during adolescence. When I was 14 I became ill with what we thought to be the flu. We realized that the diagnosis was incorrect when I didn't quickly recover. I remained sick for the next three years.
My attendance at school was sporadic at best. I was commonly absence for months at a time as the doctors tried to find a diagnosis. Finally, after years of mental and physical pain, we discovered the culprit: I had contracted Lyme disease. Unfortunately the disease went undiagnosed which allowed it to spread neurologically. Two bouts of IV antibiotics, and several months later, I finally regained my strength to return to school full time my senior year.
The teen years are a difficult time to be struggling with illness. I was isolated from my peers and essentially "forgotten" by my circle of friends. I learned a lot through this experience, perhaps most valuable was the importance of reaching out to others when they are struggling. Being sick is miserable, but being sick and forgotten is a pain that cannot be described.
Perhaps understanding the importance of supportive friends cannot be appreciated unless you have felt the isolation that often accompanies an illness or life changing event. I suspect that avoidance of uncomfortable situations is human nature because it seems to be the instinct of so many. When somebody is diagnosed with cancer, becomes ill, or loses a limb, friends and family often fade into the background because they don't know what to say or how to react to the situation.
I am often contacted by friends and family members of a new amputee. They want to know how to help, but they also want to know what they shouldn't do. They don't want to say or do the wrong thing to make the situation worse. Staying away and avoiding their loved one is, by far, worse than saying or doing something "wrong."
Fear of offending the friend should never keep somebody from reaching out. A new amputee knows that they no longer have their limb. It isn't a topic that should be avoided out of a fear of causing pain. I have yet to meet a new amputee who doesn't have the need to talk about the loss! Sometimes having those "this really sucks" feelings validated by a caring friend helps speed the healing process.
Whatever the obstacle being faced by a friend, it is never wrong to reach out and offer support. Please don't assume that others are offering a caring ear and words of encouragement. I know from experience that there can never be too much love and support during difficult times!