Thanksgiving

On the day before Thanksgiving, I’m at home with a huge cup of coffee. There’s some snow on the ground outside, and the windows are frosted around the edges. I’ve got a whole day ahead of me of whatever I want to make of it, ending with the Thanksgiving service at church tonight.

And I want to be aware and thankful in all of those moments.

It seems easy for me to be thankful and aware of my blessings, but then I realize how many blessings there really are. It isn’t just family and health and friends and the big stuff. I was lying in bed this morning looking at the moon and thinking about how our planet is built specifically, and where it is placed in space which seems to go on forever, and how the moon orbits perfectly, and the thought of all the things that go on in life that I take for granted is incredible and overwhelming.

I can’t be cognizant of every blessing I have because my mind cannot fathom them all. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 says: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in a human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

So knowing this, knowing that for every blessing I count I have countless more, here are some of my thanks.

I’m thankful for my family, always. I’m thankful for how they’ve loved me and pushed me and helped me grow into who I am today. I’m thankful for them when all I can do is be mad or annoyed and I’m thankful when they are the greatest thing I can imagine.

I’m thankful for the friends surrounding me that have become family. At our early dinner this year our friends outnumbered family and everyone was there for a reason. There are the people who have stuck by me since high school, no matter how awkward an adolescent I was, or those who have seen me grow up in college and figure out who I want to be, and those who have surrounded me the past two years when I may have needed it the most- trying to navigate being an adult-ish person.

I am thankful for the very idea of Thanksgiving. I love the massive quantities of food and leftovers, and I love the idea of people you love gathering around a table together. It gives me great joy.

I’m thankful for the season of snow that’s coming, and that I can carpool some days to avoid driving in it. I’m thankful for my job which I would do for free; for the coworkers I have that inspire me to be better and for the kids who fill my days with light and laughter. I’m thankful for my small groups, past and present, and how they show me what community should look like. I’m thankful for people that I’m not afraid to be vulnerable with, because that is a true gift from God, and I’m thankful for coffee and tea and blankets and a good book (currently reading Allegiant!).

There are infinities and greater infinities of things to count in the world, but here are a few of mine. Thanks guys, for being a part of my life in this and every season.

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Doctor

A couple of years ago I was being bumped from doctor to doctor, driving all the way out to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and hearing the same thing: Sorry. We can only offer you this medication, and it’s scary. This was said in the tone of telling me that this was a last resort, that this medication would probably kill me, and that I am out of options.

Then I was transferred to my current doctor and in our very first appointment he looked at me and told me that he wanted me to live a full life. At this point I was struggling with going to work every day; I couldn’t keep food down and I was seriously worried about how I was going to keep it up. And then he told me more about this scary medication, made us feel comfortable with it, and got me started.

I had a check up on Monday, and I am STILL in remission. I feel good and I’m able to work and volunteer and live. I still have moments of anxiety- I keep waiting to be sick again, and I’m quick to interpret a tired day as something more, but he reminded me that this is the most stable medication I’ve ever been on, and that I’m doing so well on it. Usually at this point in my treatment the meds lose effectiveness slowly and I slip back into a flare-up- I don’t think I’ve felt this good, this stable, since before I was diagnosed in sixth grade. Years and years.

I am thankful for being well. I am thankful for a doctor who wasn’t intimidated by treatment plans and who is willing to treat difficult cases.

Sometimes I’ll have flashbacks almost to a few years ago, when I didn’t have enough energy to go to class or get out of bed or even shower, to drinking ensure because real food caused too much pain, to living a shadow of a life and thinking that I’d never be capable of working normally. And this life that I’m living now seems like a miracle compared to that.

After this whole appointment, on his way out, my doctor asked if I’d be interested in going to Las Vegas to speak to a pharmaceutical company again about life with Crohn’s and how my meds have worked for me. Depending on work and what they’re looking for, I might have the opportunity to go share my story to people making medicines that change lives, which is pretty incredible.