I know what I’m grateful for this year: my health. This was, hands down, the worst autumn of my life. I had a month-long kidney stone and a procedure to extract it that made me sick with various infections for a month afterward. I lost 20 pounds in eight weeks because the only food I could choke down was yogurt. I went back on my anti-anxiety medication because I was paralyzed with fear. I spent more time in doctors’ waiting rooms (or on hold) than I did in my own house. When I was in my house, I was hiding in my bedroom, trying to sleep or frantically Googling “yeast infection on stomach.” (Yes, it’s possible to get one and, yes, I had it.) And I felt like I was phoning in parenthood, life, you name it. I wasn’t fully there. I wasn’t fully anywhere. Days rolled into nights rolled into days again, and my sense of place and self and safety evaporated right into my weighted blanket.
I’m so thankful to have come out the other side of that months-long odyssey, more or less. Thank God, these were blips. I am not chronically ill. I do not, to my knowledge, have some other devastating illness. But those eight weeks knocked me flat on my face. It made me appreciate my health. Now, every day that I can pee normally (which isn’t always! really: avoid getting kidney stones) is a good day. Able to eat food? It’s a gift. Waking up at a normal hour instead of at 3 a.m., gripped with terror? A blessing. I’ll never, ever take my stable health for granted again.
I’d like to think the whole fiasco also made me more resilient. I’m tough in a lot of ways. I can talk to anyone. Ask difficult questions of intimidating people for work? Sure. Speaking to crowds is actually fun for me. But when it comes to my health, I am absolutely, without question, a quivering tub of hypochondriacal goo. My anxiety disorder flares; I become obsessive and grasping. Logic goes out the window. I’m inconsolable. I used to be someone who couldn’t even give a blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office during a routine visit; a less-than-pristine result would make me hyperventilate. They’ve had to give me EKGs before because my pulse raced so much, not due to illness, but due to sheer fear. Sometimes I’d refuse to let a doctor take my vitals, period, because the panic that ensued was worse than any reading.
Now I can waltz into an office and let them poke me like a voodoo doll. They can wrap a blood pressure cuff around my wrist like a corset and I’ll deal with it, because once you’ve had a metal rod dangling from your nether regions and sealed with industrial tape while you projectile vomit, well, nothing seems insurmountable. But, most of all, I have a blossoming sense of safety, and I’m thankful for that. The headspace that had been taken up with worry can be focused on my family.
What about you?
“I’m grateful for our homeschooling community and the ability to be able to homeschool. Also just thinking about how the very basics are being ripped away from people makes me thankful for simply being able to wake up next to my child every day. Even the tears, tantrums, long days and frustrations I feel lucky to experience when I remember how kids are being torn from their parents’ arms. I didn’t mean to make this political, but somehow it’s inescapable,” says Marissa.
“I’m grateful my teen has found many adults who believe in and value her, and are encouraging her to develop passion and teaching her marketable skills,” Alissa says.
From Rebeccah: “I’m grateful for the community we live in, which assists me so much in my parenting journey.”
Sarah is happy that her daughter, Yael, is an “energetic, curious, sweet kid who loves to eat and knows how to sleep on her own.”
What are you grateful for this weekend? The chance to sleep in? The fact that you’re not cooking? The fact that you are cooking? I’d love to know. I’m grateful for stone-busting water with lemon, jeans that are starting to fit again (maybe not after this weekend) and the fact that my family stuck by me through the fall from hell. Two months ago, I couldn’t eat breakfast. In two days, I’m hosting 17 people for dinner. So, most of all, I’m grateful for the gift of time: the fact that it continues to march on, bringing distance and perspective along the way.