You know, I never thought a lot of things would happen to me in my life. When I was young, I thought that I would become a Vet Tech, probably marry somebody, and…..honestly not much else.
To be fair, I did do those things. What continues to astound me in this life are the things that have happened to me that I never thought would. I never thought I would have children. When I was 17, I had been complaining for two years about fatigue and widespread joint pain to my parents and the school nurse, who said things like, “She’s making it up for attention,” or “Tendonitis.” Finally I complained enough about my hands hurting that my doctor finally took an x-ray. She then referred me to a Rheumatologist an hour’s drive away, who referred me to another Rheumatologist in Pittsburgh. The diagnosis was Systemic Lupus.
I had very little in the way of information about Lupus, having only encountered the word once in a movie, “Gross Anatomy,” about a physician who has it, and challenges her interns to diagnose her, not letting them know that she is the patient. She dies a not so nice death at the end of the movie.
I was terrified.
I was told that children would be difficult and risky, I could expect to be on many medications for the entirety of my life, and that my life, in fact, probably would be shortened due to the damage that lupus does to one’s body over time. Along with attacking all connective tissues (every joint in the body), it also can make the linings of organs like the lungs inflamed, so that it hurts to breathe, or the heart….but they worry most about the kidneys.
People with Lupus are immuno-compromised, so if outside infection doesn’t kill them, since antibiotics don’t work as well in their bodies, as well as many other medications, kidney failure usually does. The body attacks its own kidneys, as if they were a foreign invader.
People who are diagnosed younger tend to live longer.
Ninety percent of affected people are women of child-bearing age–15 to 45 years old.
Bla Bla. I could go on and on but I won’t. The point is–I never even expected to WANT to have children, and was surprised when I did in my twenties. Then I thought it would be a nightmare pregnancy, but it wasn’t…the only nightmare pregnancy I had was the boys–vomiting through the entire thing, tons of complications, premature labor, infections, yadda yadda….My first one was a dream.
So I didn’t expect to WANT them in the first place, then I didn’t expect to have two with a fatal disease, then I didn’t expect to want more–even MORE than I did before children– after my first two died….
I’ve been thinking about gifts lately because somebody put a frozen turkey on my porch the day before Thanksgiving, with a box of instant potatoes, stuffing, even cookies just in case I didn’t have any…and then…somebody else gave me an Amazon Gift card for $100 with the message, “Here’s to help buy some Christmas gifts for your Little’s. Be Blessed.”
These are also things I never thought would happen to me.
I NEVER thought I would be SO blessed that I would bear FIVE wonderful, amazing children, so blessed that I have gifts given to me without even asking, so blessed that there ARE people that love me, even if my family does not, and that my chronic disease hasn’t killed me yet.
So today, I am sending gratitude out into the universe, and a lot of it. For the first time in a long time…I’m grateful to be me.