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Why I'm Thankful This Thanksgiving as Someone With a Chronic Illness

My life didn’t go quite the way I had planned. At 21 years old, soon after celebrating my birthday with my best friends in New York City, I began having difficulty walking. My strength suddenly diminished and my legs couldn’t keep up. Muscles all over began fasciculating, I began experiencing myoclonus during sleep and a deep throbbing pain set in. This was supposed to be the best decade of my life, but instead my 20s became a long, nightmarish journey for a diagnosis. And the search didn’t end there.

I didn’t plan on having B-cells killed through an IV every six months. I didn’t plan on religiously washing my hands each time I enter my house for fear of becoming sick with a suppressed immune system. I didn’t plan on parenting two children while having days where I can barely walk. I didn’t plan it out this way, and I certainly didn’t ask for any of this.

But you know what? On this Thanksgiving, 14 years after this journey began, I find myself being very thankful for many things in my life. And while it’s easy to feel defeated when you’re chronically ill, it’s far more beneficial to rise above your disease and accept what you still have.

I’m thankful that I was able to have two healthy boys who keep me going even when I feel defeated. I’m thankful to have a husband by my side through the ups and downs of life with chronic illness. I’m thankful to have parents who drop what they’re doing to watch my kids when I need help or drive me to a doctor appointment, because my gosh, there are plenty of them. I’m thankful to be living in 2018 when an infusion can return my cerebrospinal fluid white blood cell count back to zero and hopefully allow for improvement over time. I’m thankful that I have so much to be thankful for.

This may not be how I had imagined my life when my childhood friends and I dreamed of our futures. But now I know just how strong I truly am. I look back and I can see how many hurdles I overcame, how many days and nights I pushed on to make it to where I am today. I’m happy with where I am. I’m happy with who I am. And I can thank my disease for playing a part in shaping my strength, my compassion and my gratefulness.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash