First my many new virtual friends that I have met through this blog and the different RA and chronic disease pages on Facebook and other sites. I had no true sense of how many folks out there are experiencing the same thoughts, feelings, ups and downs, pain and so on until I started this blog and began to participate in several online RA support groups and Facebook pages. Say what you will about FB, I have found it to be a wonderful source of joy and fun and support. No it does not nor should it, replace face to face (no pun intended) interactions but what a great way to re-connect and in the case of my new RA friends connect for the first time!
So what these many new connections told me was just how out of touch I was with others who have RA. Back when I first was diagnosed I used to participate in a couple of RA Chat Groups as they were called then, even hosted one for awhile. But as time went on and my life got busier I drifted away from it. Fast forward to a few months ago, when I decided it was time to start an RA Support Group in my area and the rest is history. Through that decision sprang the desire to blog and from there I have gotten involved in other online groups. What has been so nice is discovering not only the massive number of people who are so similar to me in so many ways but also how diverse we all are at the same time. And despite the miles and lack of physical presence, I have found that others with RA can see right through to the core of what I am going through, often better than me. It really has been a wonderful discovery and something I am just overwhelmingly thankful for!
I also want to reflect on the wonderful folks I have the good fortune to work with every day. I truly count them as friends, dear and treasured, as they are there day after day to support me when my body does not. They are as committed to the work we do as anyone could ask for and I am certain that our ability to fulfill our mission as catalysts for positive change in our community is a direct result of their dedication. They inspire me to continue my personal battle with RA and to win!
I also want to mention the wonderful medical team that keep me moving (literally) and make dealing with RA a bearable and realistic goal. The physicians, nurses, lab techs., etc. are all so crucial to my well-being I owe them an amazing debt of gratitude.
I am not even sure where to begin to express my thanks to my family. I would thank them all from the bottom of my heart but for them my heart has no bottom! They have been partners in this journey from day one. They have never complained or expressed a single word of criticism or anger. Their attitude has been one of hope and support and love, often lifting me up both literally and figuratively. They give me a reason to keep on fighting, to keep on trying, in short to have hope.
I don't want to list them all here but they all know who they are and what they have given me. I do want and need to mention my husband. His ongoing, never ending love and his ability to deal with all of what RA has taken from us, simply astounds me. To say I am thankful falls so short of what I feel.
I love the beautiful sentiment in the photo above when I read it I knew it expressed far better than I could how my husband has supported me.
The simplicity of this statement about gratitude is so on target I simply had to share it here. There really is a depth of feeling to gratitude that goes beyond the immediate, reaching well into the past, here in the moment and forward shaping our tomorrows.
I also think of thanks as another way to experience hugs, which to me are the physical manifestations of appreciation...for an act of kindness, as a way of greeting or saying farewell to a person dear to you, to show support in times of sadness or joy, to express pride, to show love and of course to say THANKS! The physical touch that a hug provides is priceless and it is good for your health. Those of us with RA often might find hugs are a tad painful but for me no matter the discomfort, it is soooo worth it for the value of the touch!
I have discovered that I can even experience cyber hugs and they now hold a special place in my heart now as well thanks to my many new RA online buddies!
The bottom line here is that in this world of RA where we are often forced to focus on the the things we are not thankful for I like to take the time now and again to thank those many wonderful people who make my life so special and so joyous.
We need to challenge ourselves to stay grateful and appreciative for all that we have in our lives despite RA! As always, I will not let it define or defeat me.