(Editor’s Note—Columnist Ellen Smith notes what she is grateful for—at the end of her column, share with us what you are grateful to have)
Sometimes I must pinch myself and make sure I really mean it when I say I am grateful. I have been living on the edge of life for so many years and am still alive, despite two incurable conditions. And yet, I am grateful and determined to try to not wallow in my sorrows and losses, no easy task, especially when I have my backward moments. But when you come close to death and then experience some improvement to the quality of your life, you become so grateful to even wake up, realize you are breathing and have another day to live.
Yes, I’m grateful.
As horrible as it is to get a diagnosis of any type, we must take the time to learn how to cope and search for ways to still have some quality of life. I just don’t know how else to live life except with some form of hope to hold to. So, I have taken my two conditions and decided to advocate to educate those in the medical field that are in the dark about how to help us with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Sarcoidosis, chronic pain, and cannabis. I also feel it is a moral responsibility in life to help each other. So, if something can’t hurt one but might offer help with someone with the same conditions, I share the information either in writing or speaking.
So despite the 25th surgery in December, and over nine catatonic episodes before a second neck fusion, I choose to be grateful for the good still in my life.
A few examples of what I am grateful for:
- To still be alive!
- A happy marriage to a man for over forty-six years
- Four amazing adult sons we have had the honor to parent
- Four magical grandchildren and another due in March
- The love and assistance from my service dog, Maggie and our little rescue dog, Lilly
- The love of reading, when dizziness cooperates
- The love of gardening when I am able
- The love of cooking, exploring new foods and ways to create them
- Friends that have chosen to stick with me instead of the others that couldn’t handle my medical issues
- Extended family scattered across the country
- A new smaller home with lots of windows to let the sunshine in our home
- My unitarian community we have the honor of knowing
- The ability to find ways to still move the body despite my limitations
- Walking again, leaving the wheelchair in the shed after four years of use
- Breathing successfully with my BI-PAP
- Doctors, nurses, family and friends that have learned to respect my condition and try to help ease the burdens
The list of things I am grateful for could go on and on. It would take nothing to turn this around and instead list all I am not grateful for, but I don’t want to be that person. There is a theory that what you focus on is very important to your well-being. It is easy to feel sad, targeted, picked on, left behind, hurting with pain, etc. but that only focuses on the negative. Despite the hardship one faces in life, there is good there too. So many times, I find positive that has happened in my life due to these medical struggles. We have met so many kind, giving, loving people on the journey to hold on to in our life. May you also find and hold on to the good that is there in your life as we approach Thanksgiving.
May life be kind to you,
Ellen Lenox Smith
Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.