Reflecting on this weekend’s holiday, I can’t help but pay tribute to the concepts of freedom and independence. While these mean a great variety of things to a great many people, for those living with chronic illness, these concepts can take on new meaning. Even the simple liberties like freedom from the restroom, from infusions, medications, doctors appointments, dietary restrictions or other daily burdens. These can be cause for independence celebrations of their own. Strangely, even freedom from fireworks. (Hey I love fireworks as much as the next guy, but this year I’m celebrating that they no longer seem to be exploding in my rectum).
Sometimes simplest freedom can feel like a grand liberation. Eliminating just one restroom trip per day might be the miraculous break that some of us wish for. Or sometimes salvation comes in ways healthy people would have a difficult time understanding, like being liberated from one’s colon. While most folks would instinctively retain all their organs at seemingly any cost, ulcerative colitis patients can find a colectomy to be a welcome deliverance from months, years, or even decades of agony.
Regardless of what perspective we bring, we have all likely enjoyed some forms of freedom in our healing and coping processes. And we also all dream of other liberties that are yet to come. As this weekend’s celebration of independence passes into memory, I encourage us all to be mindful of ways in which we have enjoyed freedom, even simple liberations—and to keep in perspective the other ones we’d like to achieve. And let’s also not forget those who helped us along the journey, in a great many ways—as a grateful nation surely, but also as thankful neighbors, friends, and family members.
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