As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am humbled by so many reasons to feel fortunate. Living with a chronic disease is not typically the sort of thing a person gives thanks for, but I still celebrate the blessings it has brought me. Certainly I have gained valuable perspective about sickness, health, disability, finding strength through challenges, and life lessons that help me better understand others and the wide variety of adversities that people face.
Having an illness also makes me appreciate the incredible accomplishments of modern medicine. I am thankful for prednisone, even with its loathsome accompaniments. I am thankful for azathioprine, and Asacol, and the biologics. I am thankful for flexible endoscopes and pill cameras and, yes, even barium.
I am thankful for the people who dedicate their lives to caring for patients and finding a cure. I am thankful for genetic research. I am thankful for new medicines, and the patients who undertake unknown risks to test their safety and efficacy.
I am thankful for support groups, and information lines, and brochures, and web sites. I am thankful for patient advocacy projects and the leaders who bring them forward. I am thankful for summer camps that change the lives of afflicted children.
I am also thankful for the people who help to fund these endeavors.
And most of all, I am thankful for the people in my life who help make it possible to live and thrive, despite the challenges. The sacrifices they make. The inconveniences they accommodate. The listening ears and crying shoulders and encouraging words. The gestures they offer, both grand and simple, that tell me I’ll never be alone in this world.
I wish you well in celebrating and enjoying these and other blessings of your own. And by all means, please share your gratitude, far and wide. Happy Thanksgiving.
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