Thankful…..For What?

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In the weeks leading up to today I’ve been admittedly ambivalent. There are numerous commercials, facebook posts and household conversations about menus, cooking devices and travel plans. Make no mistake, I have no resentment toward any of these, in fact they keep me connected and engaged. It’s a day of food, family, friends, football and fun. This is precisely why I feel the way I do! Consider this.

Last year this time I was in Trevose with my parents. I was on a bipap machine around-the-clock so a mask was always on my face. My voice was soft, often unintelligible. I designed a communication chart with letters allowing someone to spell out letter by letter my needs, thoughts and responses. I was totally fed by my CNA, or one of various family members. My food was chopped in a processor. I usually consumed anywhere from several tablespoons to a small bowl. The majority of my calories and nutrition came from Ensure juice, not to be confused with their shakes. Those were too thick for me to drink through a straw with my weakened oral muscles and diaphragm; and a straw was needed to get nectar-thickened liquid to the portion of my mouth that was capable of swallowing. With all of this I was still losing up to 20% of liquids down my chin into my clothing protector. It was only one of many degrading processes my life now entailed.

Despite these challenges I was still able to partake of the delicious holiday meal that my neice, Tasha prepared. Trust me, turkey, stuffing, gravy, candied yams, string beans and such may LOOK differently coming out of a food processor but it tastes just as good! LOL! I had some old neighborhood friends come visit and reminisce, it was enjoyable. It may not have been quite as years past, but I was a full participant.

Now, I’m back in Aldan with Jennifer and our children. Because of my need for continuous monitoring and gaps nursing hours, the family gatherings usually happen here. This allows my household to fully participate without having to rush back and forth. This means there will be a house full of food, laughter, debates (inevitable), good-natured ribbing and conversation. In other words, a bunch of stuff that I can no longer do. Again, there’s no resentment to it happening here; it would be no easier if they went elsewhere and left me with a nurse or if they did a stay-at-home celebration denying the traditional gathering for my sake. The weight of my limitations in this regard are mine alone. Finally, when my parents-in-law Bill and Becky begin the around-the-room “what you’re thankful for” I’m thinking there’s not much for me to say considering everything I listed above.

Suddenly, this dropped into my spirit: “Consider your last 365 days”. Okaaaayy. Wow, I survived a life-altering surgery that despite it’s drawbacks (no talking, eating, vent-dependent, tubefeeder), it has undoubtedly extended my life. Actually, it’s improved my life. No more struggling and failing to meet my nutritional requirements. Though my airway requires care it provides an easier breathing experience than before! I also survived a grueling and depressing 2-month rehab (more on that later as the anniversary of that experience is less than a month away) that saw me taking psych meds and having therapy sessions in attempts to cope. Now I attend church, concerts, theater and parks!

So, it turns out that sometimes when its difficult to identify blessings, and everything seems bleak; a vantage-point adjustment is exactly what’s needed! I encourage you to recognize when all you see is a pile of negative pressing around you, it’s no accident! It’s a plan to steal your joy! Fact is, life is full of positive and negative events. If all you see is negative, then somewhere is the omitted positives! Refocus and fight for your joy, it’s YOURS!!! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for indulging little ole me. God Bless!!

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