It is difficult to think of reasons to be thankful. Chronic illness patients aren’t exactly at the top of the luckiest people in the world list. I often find myself asking the question, “why me?”. I can hear my parents telling me that life isn’t fair but truly, life isn’t fair to those of us who suffer from chronic illness. It’s easy to fall into an abysmal pit of despair, always groaning about how unfair life is, how difficult life is, or how angry you’ve become in this life of chronic illness. The past six years of my life have been very difficult. I started 2017 with a Crohn’s flare so severe that I could not do any of the things I love in life and spent more time in the hospital or doctor’s offices than I did at work. 2018 improved but I was still struggling to get into remission. 2019 was the year of my redemption. I found remission, started training for races again, and saw my business thrive. Unfortunately, 2020 was not the year I planned. I worked hard to get my fitness levels back and train for Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga only to see my efforts wasted by a reaction to my biologic that caused me to lose my ability to exercise. 2021 was exceedingly dismal and I unsuccessfully tried to drag myself out of a manic-depressive state by declaring I was lucky to have health insurance and enough money to live. Well, I eventually declared that I refused to use the “L-word” because there is nothing lucky about my life. Despite all of this, I have started to find some highlights in 2022 and Thanksgiving Day really showed me how far I’ve come and reminded me there are still things to be thankful for in life.
My husband, Steve, has really been through a lot. He has stood by my side through everything and 2022 he showed me that even in the worst of times, he is there. Steve has supported me in my sickness, in my struggle with depression, and my business. I am so thankful he is in my life and today I’m reflecting on how lucky I truly am to have a husband who is so supportive and loving. I’m a dog mom. If I could afford it, I’d have a few more fur babies to fill my life. We celebrated my oldest, Coco’s 13th birthday this year. These dogs are so sweet, they wore party hats and indulged me in over the top festivities just because they knew it would make me happy. I started running again this year. It wasn’t easy and I spent the better part of this year in pain that ranged from wincing to debilitating. Through all this pain was my new running buddy who ran with me and encouraged me through some extremely difficult runs. I know I would have quit without her partnership. For this, I am thankful. Thanksgiving morning, I ran the Alexandria Turkey Trot. This is an annual 5 mile run through our neighborhood that I signed up for believing I would very slowly run or possibly walk. I averaged just over a 9-minute mile. This may sound like nothing to the average person but for me, I struggled to even walk just a year ago. Running has not been easy for me and just last week, I was struggling after a trip to Paris. I felt triumphant. My run was followed up with some snuggle time with Steve and the dogs while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade and the National Dog Show. This is when I realized that my life truly is remarkable. It’s so easy to focus on the negative but there is also so much love in my life that it’s difficult to not say the “L-word”. I always say that I’m toxically positive but this Thanksgiving, I’m going to say that I’m thankful for being lucky. I’m lucky to have such a loving husband and fur family. I’m lucky to have met my running buddy who helped me get to where I am today. I’m lucky to have recovered from such a severe reaction to a drug and be able to run again. It’s easy for a chronic illness patient to find nothing to be grateful for in this life. Today, I’m thankful for so much in my life; my husband, my dogs, my friends, my new blog and podcast, and a new outlook on my life. I’ve started over again many times and here I go again. I’m thankful for the strength and resilience my illness has given me and with that in mind, I’m thankful for my ability to stand back up, once again, and be a strong and resilient woman.