I went to my first "meetup" with other patients this Wednesday and it turned out to be better than I expected. It was a local support group that I found online back in March. I had been planning on attending one of their monthly meetings ever since, but something always seemed to come up -- often a crash -- that made it difficult to attend. A couple of times, I learned in advance that the group had scheduled a guest speaker and I simply wasn't interested in listening to an hour-long commercial by some local "health consultant." Finally, the stars aligned for this week's meeting.
I have to admit, I had some apprehensions about attending a support group. Say the words "support group" and I imagine of a bunch of whiny people exchanging trite, new-age platitudes. But it wasn't like that at all.
The meeting was held in a coffee shop and the group took over its own seating section. There was a brief round of formal introductions, but mostly it was free-form mingling...like a cocktail party, only seated...and no booze. I found out there are some interesting and wise people in the group whose experiences make mine look like a walk in the park. My only regret was that I had to leave after an hour and a half. I could have easily stayed for much longer.
It's refreshing to speak with other people who know exactly what you're talking about; who speak the same language and know about the same doctors and treatments. Meeting people online has been great, but in-person meetings add a whole new dimension where one can actually look another in the eye and communicate with tone and expression. The experience also made me feel less like a statistical anomaly knowing that there were as many other CFS/FM patients living nearby.
Now it's really game on. The ice is broken and I'm looking forward to going to more meetings and networking with actual real life CFS patients.