It’s been a while since I posted; I’ve had a number of life changes and travel over the past month that have kept me busy. I do have some interesting new research, so look for that in a future post.
Today, however, I want to discuss Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that can be bittersweet for those of us who suffer from a chronic health condition. In the past, when I would share Thanksgiving dinner with my family and be asked what I was thankful for, I would always include “my health.” Even as a young many I knew how valuable that was.
The first Thanksgiving after my symptoms flared was a painful time. I felt like my life was spiraling downward and my doctors were arguing against the diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome that I was ever more confident of having. I was scared and upset, and the idea of being thankful for anything seemed laughable. I looked at the other I shared dinner with, with their excellent health, and couldn’t muster the words to be thankful for anything.
That was two Thanksgivings ago. In the time since, a few things have occurred that have helped me to change my outlook:
- I worked through the five stages of grief. While I still get upset at times, I’ve come to accept what I cannot change; namely that I have a chronic autoimmune disorder (which does not keep me from exploring treatment options).
- I’ve learned that others, particularly friends and acquaintances my age, also have chronic health conditions. An old friend who’s life was destroyed by CFS. A coworker that developed diabetes. Another friend with Crohn’s disease. Etc. While I don’t wish any of these conditions on anyone, it does help my piece of mind to know that I’m not the only one struggling.
- Finally, I have had time to adjust my life to my condition. I realize that I still do have a lot to be thankful for: friends, family, a job that I can still work. Financial security for the present. Even though I mourn what I have lost, I have a lot that makes life still worth living.
I would be the first to resist the notion that ‘someone always has it worse.’ While that is true, it does nothing to address the issues that I and my fellow sufferers must face on a daily basis. I do, however, try to turn the statement to the positive, focusing on the things that I still have to be thankful for, even if my health and stability are no longer part of them.
In closing, I do maintain hope that better treatments will come along, and I like to think that I’m at the low point in my health. It may or may not be true, but it certainly makes getting through the day easier.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.