#580 – World Arthritis Day and Thanksgiving Day: The Twain Shall Meet

This year, Canadian Thanksgiving was on October 12th, which is always celebrated on the second Monday in October, for those who don't know. It was also World Arthritis Day. As you can see, the twain (two) shall meet.

There is another link between the two. While World Arthritis Day is circled on the calendar on the 12th, the reality is that living with rheumatoid arthritis is a year-long, lifetime event. While we take one day to celebrate Thanksgiving, it need not be that way.

The mashing of the two days provided the perfect opportunity to think and talk about gratitude and to feel - that's the important part - thankful. Yes, even living with a chronic debilitating disease for forty-three years, I find a cornucopia of nouns and verbs (people, places, things, ideas and actions) for which to be grateful.

A feeling of gratitude is part of the many strategies I use to swim through life with RA. A heartfelt expression of appreciation is a powerful tool that can address and undress your stress. See: The Magnitude of Gratitude and A Crateful of Grateful.

Autum. A bench under a tree overlooking a lake.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In honour of the 12th, here are in no particular order, twelve things for which I'm grateful:

  1. The opportunity to partner with Pfizer, once again. You can read about my amazing NYC journey here: Pfizer's First RA Blogger Summit.
  2. In addition to meeting a number of RA bloggers, I was also fortunate to be able to share a lovely dinner with Dorlee, one of my #SummitFriends.
  3. The creative minds at National PR for launching the #ImagineRA campaign. Support, encouragement, hope and strength: a four-legged stool upon which to rest, recalibrate, then get up and continue on with the next steps. As part of our assignment for World Arthritis Day, we were asked to create a one-minute video. I am thankful for that task because I became glaringly aware of a habit that I had no idea I was doing. Now that I know, I am working on changing it. More about this in a future post!

  4. Despite ongoing family and pet challenges, I am able to maintain my equilibrium, thanks to regularly practicing stress techniques and other self-care strategies. What's the alternative? A place I'd rather not go.
  5. Holly, my four-legged personal trainer. I thought we would have to make that final trip to the vet in the summer. I'm grateful for each additional day that she still wants to be with us.
  6. Electricity! With it, we have connectivity to the internet, television, telephone and music. We are able to cook, bathe and do laundry. Ordinary things that we take for granted, but when you don't have them, life is definitely much harder. One day I'll write about growing up on the farm having to do without some of those things!
  7. Hearing aids, while not perfect, they go a long way to bringing clarity to my life. See: Hearing Loss is No Laughing Matter.
  8. Books! See: Favourite Books of 2019, 2018 and 2017.
  9. Accessible nature. See: Centennial Beach and the Delta Watershed.
  10. My extended healthcare team. A standing ovation (emphasis on "standing") for keeping me mobile!
  11. Supportive, fun, creative, kind, intelligent, caring, pragmatic, generous, reliable, honest, determined, trustworthy, curious, tolerant, hard-working, funny friends and family who occupy a place in my heart, home and life.
  12. Water - Whether I'm in it, on it, beside it or drinking it!

A chronic illness is like that giant asteroid that can knock any or all parts of your solar system off its/their orbital planes. Disorder can affect you in a variety of ways: from personal to professional, social to spiritual, familial to financial, emotional, mental, physical and everything in between. I've devoted A Rheumful of Tips to sharing tips, tricks, tools and strategies to help you make changes that can bring some order to your universe.

Small changes can and do reap big rewards. The advice that my cohorts, Lene Andersen, J.G. Chayko, Cristina Montoya, Sharon Hunter, Gina MacDougall and I share on this #ImagineRA video serve to keep our (sometimes) sore feet planted on terra firma. Remember that it doesn't have to be a Big Bang of action, although sometimes, a big scare can explode into overnight changes.

On February 2nd, 2018, I wrote a poem in honour of Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day. I decided to alter a line I used in that poem for the finale in the video I made for Pfizer.

Here is a reprint of that poem:

It will come, and it will go
Advancing, retreating and advancing some more
Mercurial, mysterious, omnipresent
It can arrive slowly, silently
Or come thundering in.

Its presence is felt
Gnawing at your joint linings
Grabbing your muscles, rupturing your tendons
Eroding your ligaments, altering your vocal cords
And, yes, even stealing from your generous heart.

At times, you can be so exhausted, too tired to talk
To listen, to participate, to be a good friend
Sometimes your life is guided
By a disease that claims you for its own
You're there when you're able, when you've had a good rest.

It can drown your dreams
Curtail your ability to work and play
The costs can be huge, lost time - a big price to pay
Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, too
It can change you, make you stronger and more determined, that's true.

If medals were distributed, for effort, perseverance and energy expended
To accomplish what you might call "regular", "everyday" or "ordinary"
Upon the Olympic podium, you could proudly stand
Claim first, second and third, you deserve a hand
For feats favoured by Heracles, Nike and Proteus.

It will come, and it will go
Advancing, retreating and advancing some more
Morning, noon, night, can bring drastic changes
You have rheumatoid arthritis
But it won't have you.

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