I am grateful to live in one of the mildest parts of Canada when it comes to harsh winters, I do wish I didn't feel those cold brisk days in my bones. I wish I could enjoy winter without extra pain. I wish rainy days didn't make me feel so foggy and tired.
Winter months are a struggle with autoimmune arthritis. How I have come to almost fear the colder months. Please get your flu shot or stay in if you are sick. You can't always tell who has a weakened immune system, a simple cold can affect us significantly.
For Christmas I wish I didn't have limitations and adversity in life. I wish there was a cure for arthritis.
Sometimes, though, it is adversity that teaches you the true meaning of gratitude and support.
My grandmother passed away days after Christmas. I wish Christmas didn't remind me of her passing and how my sense of family also died with her.I wish Christmas wasn't the last time I saw my aunt who passed away the same week I was diagnosed with the same autoimmune for of arthritis.
I wish I could work and pay for my son's Christmas presents. It wasn't long ago where I could, but not since my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis which landed me on the number one cause of long term disability in Canada. His birthday is 12 days before Christmas which is added celebration as well as stress, cost and energy during the cold busy December. I am grateful to have my son to spoil during this month. He makes the cold evenings at home full of love, warmth and laughter. I am grateful my son at 5 years old was able to tell me he understood I can't work because I am sick.
I wish I could be healthy and strong enough, financially stable enough to take him to all the Christmas events around the city. I too want to be amazed by the lights, scents and love Christmas can generate in the air. I can barely keep up with my own self care routine with how busy this season gets. I am running on near empty. I wish my pain didn't increase if I am not careful to over do it. I wish treating my disease wasn't so expensive, others wouldn't make comments on the price we are willing to pay for some relief or to just keep moving. I wish others understood the guilt that comes with being chronically ill.
I wish dating wasn't so difficult as a chronically ill single mother. I wish men saw me for me, not that I have disease. I wish I wasn't alone this Christmas. I wish my invisible illness didn't make me invisible to others. I wish it didn't make me afraid to start anything because my fear of rejection.
I am thankful this year my father is in town visiting from China. He is approaching 70 and has more energy than me nearing 33. I am grateful for the help, I wish having company didn't tend to trigger fatigue and I could keep up with my senior father. I wish I was used to being in pain with someone other than my son around. I wish pain didn't make me feel this vulnerable and weak.
I am thankful those around me have adapted with me and know that when I ask for help, it is difficult for me to do so but it is the physical limitations I now live with, though invisible, do require me to ask for help. I am grateful for my son's father setting up the Christmas tree and lights, he knew that would be too psychically demanding on me now, even though before I have done it in the past. I wish my disease wasn't progressive.
I am thankful for Amazon with their affordable toy prices and to-my-door delivery. Having debilitating chronic fatigue can make the Christmas rush even more difficult, I've learned to pace myself so I can get everything done and not toy too much with fatigue.
I am thankful for the Christmas Bureau, but not thankful for the people who ruin it for others. I wish there was more for us single disabled parents because we are a demographic who gets looked over quite often, even more so when your disability is invisible. I wish people weren't so quick to judge me because I have tattoos, it's not the reason I can't work. It's the debilitating autoimmune disease you can't see inside me.
I wish my hands were strong enough to use the garlic press. I wish chopping vegetables didn't make my wrists sore. I wish standing didn't make my knees, hips and back ache. I wish looking down to concentrate on what I am didn't make my neck sore. I wish I didn't have difficulty lifting the turkey out of the oven.
I am thankful for pre-cut vegetables. I am thankful for my electric mixer. I am thankful for all pre-made options that don't taste like garbage or full of garbage. I am grateful for the foods that are also a medicine and don't irritate my stomach or pain levels.
I wish there was a cure for Arthritis. I wish others understood the disease, showed us more compassion and understanding. For now, I will just have to be grateful for what I have until that cure comes. I am grateful for those that have dedicated their time to research and treatment for those living with arthritis.