By Carla Schick
Once a year on a Thursday in November, people gather together and do three things: watch football, eat until their waistlines have expanded by at least three inches and, generally, overindulge. This, strangely enough, is supposed to honor the holiday we call “Thanksgiving.”
Thankfully, many of us see Thanksgiving as more than an opportunity to overindulge. Let’s take a moment to examine what we have and count our many blessings.
Freedom of Speech
Back in February 2004, the social networking phenomenon known as Facebook got its start. This social media platform has given patients and caregivers a voice that has sounded the world over. Facebook has made it possible for people living with chronic medical conditions to be heard, when before there was silence. Treatment options, diagnosis stories, doctor referrals, words of encouragement, lasting friendships and doses of courage all have been exchanged through small conversations, weaving people together by the common thread of illness.
Our freedom of speech also translates into individual blogs where patients go on a regular basis for advice, inspiration or as an outlet for frustration. Letter writing is another wonderful way to express ourselves. Whether we’re writing a friend to personally thank them for their support or we’re sending our physician a note to let him or her know they’re “fired,” the freedom to post, blog and pen our way through our ups and downs is a blessing that should never be taken for granted.
Freedom of Choice
Along with the advances in medicine, we’ve also received some advances in our access to care. Instead of being confined to the services of our local family doctor, we have the ability to choose from a wide variety of physicians who will fit our needs: male, female, specialty languages, specific fields of medicine, etc. We also can select which methods of care we wish to receive, whether they’re traditional or complementary and alternative (CAM) approaches.
What would we ever do without amazing resources like the Internet? Now it’s easier than ever to search online and learn about a disease. So many patients and caregivers are using the Internet to become educated about their conditions; and, in some cases, they have more knowledge about their illness than their doctors. Facebook, another wonderful resource, is full of pages solely dedicated to those with chronic medical conditions. Your avenues of support expand with each new friend added.
Behind any patient is a loving and nurturing caregiver. They are loyal, loving, selfless people who give of themselves in order to better the life of someone in need. We are grateful for their expressions of encouragement, their smiling face and tender touch. Without them, life just wouldn’t be the same.
So after you’ve eaten your last slice of pumpkin pie, look around the table and take a moment to reflect on the blessings that give you a warm feeling of appreciation. There’s a quote from John Petit-Senn that says: “Not what we have, but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance.” So if we’re going to overindulge, let’s overindulge on an abundance of gratitude.
Share with us the comforts, enjoyments and happiness’s that you’re thankful for.