We just returned from an evening with friends of some thirty-five years.  As always it was a wonderful evening of good  food (Irish, of course), great conversation, and reminiscing. The eight of us, four couples have lived in the same town only fifteen of those years. We now live about an hour away from them.  the distance does not seem to separate us in any other way than geographically. 

We have stayed friends throughout Mary Ann’s progression from the Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis to the Parkinson’s Disease Dementia that is now emerging. Many who have shared experiences have revealed that friends have sometimes simply left, as the disease has progressed. 

Tonight, bathroom needs, disruptive hot flashes, challenges in eating were all part of the evening’s events.  Those challenges were simply taken in stride as part of what it means to be together as friends.  One of the group, Marlene, has been dealing with a slowly progressing version of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) for around seven years now.  She is completely wheelchair bound.  Her husband Charlie and I have much in common to talk about — he, however, is a much better cook that I.  Chronic illness with no reasonable expectation at the moment of anything other than decline, has not diminished the strength of the friendship that binds the eight of us.  It has seemed to draw us even closer together.

Our experience with this group is not necesarrily the norm.  Some, maybe some of you, have had other experiences with the impact your Loved One’s Disease has had on friendships.  I have lots of thoughts about keeping and losing friends, doing things that can build lasting friendships — even when unpleasant symptoms seem to keep friends away.  Let’s start with your thoughts! 

What have been your experiences, good or bad, with friends sticking with you or slowly disappearing from your lives as your Loved One’s disease has progressed?