A Spoonie Thanksgiving
As a London boy, my knowledge of Thanksgiving is very limited and mostly stolen from episodes of Friends which I used to watch as a teen.
However, from what I gather it is all about eating lots of turkey, drinking copious amounts of booze, and talking about the things in life that we are thankful for.
As a vegetarian, I won't be partaking in any turkey eating and as Brit I already do my fair share of drinking in my own time.
So I thought today I would share with you a few things that I am thankful for that AS has given me.
Not taking things for granted
After spending two 8 month periods of my life unable to move without the assistance of crutches or a wheelchair, I will certainly never be taking walking for granted again.
I still remember the joy I felt when I had recovered from my first flare and was able to take a few steps unassisted. Because of this, I am so thankful for anything my legs are able to do, whether that is a walk to the shops or dance on a Friday night, as I know what it felt like when I couldn't.
AS has well and truly humbled me, but it is deeper than just my mobility.
Having a lifelong condition that can affect so many aspects of life really puts things into perspective. A clean bill of health should never be taken for granted. Bad days will come for sure, but I am so grateful for any day that my pain or fatigue is low and I am able to go about my everyday business feeling healthy.
Taking care of myself
Knowing that my body is doing a splendid job at attacking itself, I realize just how important it is to do all that I can to make sure that I am keeping myself as healthy as possible
I pay close attention to what I put in my body as I know that it has a direct impact on how I am feeling. In general I put a lot more thought into what I am eating and drink a lot less alcohol (by my country's standards anyway) to try and keep the flare ups at bay.
I also make sure that I keep active and stay safe and sensible when I do it. Gone are the days of swinging around heavy weights in the gym to look as alpha as possible. Now I concentrate on performing exercises with good form and not overdoing it so I avoid doing any more damage to my body.
Becoming more caring
I don't want to give the impression that I was some kind of sociopath before my diagnosis, but I have certainly become a more caring person as a result.
I think having an invisible illness has opened my eyes to the fact that people can have a lot of things going on that aren't obvious to the naked eye.
Nowadays when I ask someone how they are, I genuinely care about their response and it is not just a conversation formality for me.
Connecting with others
By far the greatest blessing that AS has given me is the opportunity to connect with some fantastic humans that I would have otherwise never have crossed paths with.
Opening up about my fight with chronic illness online was the best decision I ever made. It allowed me to get talking to some of the most astonishing people from around the world that fight these conditions too. These people have given me so much inspiration and strength and I like to think of many of them as friends for life.
Not only have they helped me with my fight against chronic illnesses but in my everyday life too and I am eternally grateful.
If you are reading this now and we have ever had a conversation, be it a one-off or something deeper than that, please know that I really appreciate you.
All the love and support I have received since I started sharing my journey has been overwhelming and really allowed me to accept my situation and grow as a person.
Yes I know, it sounds a bit crazy to be thankful for anything that a chronic illness comes with.
But I believe it is a waste of energy to look at the obvious negative impacts that AS brings to our life. It serves us a lot better to take a step back and appreciate the blessings that strangely enough come with this disease.
AS or any chronic condition for that matter is as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one. So for me, I find concentrating on the positives helps me keep the positive mindset that I need to continue fighting this battle.
I wish you all a happy and pain-free Thanksgiving and I hope you have the spoons to celebrate it in whatever manner you want, whether that is the stereotypical way TV has taught me or not.
What things has AS brought to your life that you are thankful for?
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?