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The Unexpected Gifts My Lupus Has Given Me

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No more trips to the great outdoors or amusement parks with my children. No more dreams of making an archaeological discovery that rewrites our understanding of prehistory. No more shopping trips with that person I mistakenly believed was my friend. No more amazing sexual — well, now, my husband would not appreciate my going there for all of you to read.

Everyone in my circle understands what lupus has taken from me. But this disease has given me and my family some unexpected blessings, too.

I realized this one day more than a year ago when my husband, my primary care giver, was home sick with the flu. While I was up in bed, he was downstairs on the couch, keeping his virus as far away from me as possible. Knowing he was in worse shape than me, I pushed myself to go downstairs to make him chicken noodle soup and tea. Our teenaged son came through the door just as I was serving it up. He took stock of the situation and declared, “Now that is the kind of marriage I want to have someday.” He made me consider the gifts lupus has given us.

Besides an example of a give and take marriage, it has given my children an understanding of what it takes to be a husband and father under difficult circumstances. My husband brings home the bacon, fries it up in the pan and scrubs the pan clean. He cleans up after me, his sick wife, while expressing love and affection to me even though I look nothing like the lovely woman he married some 25 years ago thanks to age, illness and medications. The kids are watching and learning from him, and that excites me.

It has given my husband a wife and children who appreciate and respect him. He works 40 to 80 hours a week at work depending on the due dates of his projects, cleans the house and handles all the kids’ stuff like sports and other activities that I used to handle. Our children are proud of him.

Lupus has given me an appreciation of who I am, what I have and what I can do.

I have a strong, healthy circle of family and friends who support us.

I have discovered a creativity within that has allowed me to focus on what I can do. As a result, I have self-published two books and am working on another.

It has given me the courage to express myself without fear of judgment and rejection.

It has taught me to prioritize. I choose my battles and focus on what is truly important.

It has taught me to stop trying to remove the splinter in another’s eye while this log is in mine. Too many have judged me and my handicapped placard. I don’t want to do that to others. I hope empathy and compassion have taken the place of judgment in my views of others.

Finally, I have learned to look at my husband and my children in a different light. Some days are good and some days are bad, but each day with them is a gift. Seeing them, talking with them, being together is enough to make me smile.

Thank you, lupus, not for what you have taken because I still hate you for that, but for the unexpected gifts you have given. I shall treasure them always.

Originally published: July 27, 2016
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