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stop to give thanks


I wonder, sometimes, why people take their health for granted. I understand that the status quo is that most people are functionally healthy for a good 50 years or so and then declining health is expected for the latter part of the life span. But mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow or walking into the grocery store -- all three are mundane tasks that are largely taken for granted, I think.

I should give you a little background. My brother, who will turn 47 next month, is bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis. He was diagnosed with MS almost 13 years ago, but dealt with the symptoms for at least three or four years before that. His type of MS is extremely aggressive and does not respond to medication.

For that reason, he has chosen not to use medication except to deal with occasional infections from bed sores, etc. He cannot walk, cannot sit upright, can barely use his arms and hands and cannot feed himself. His eyesight is failing and he cannot do anything for himself. He can talk and laugh.

He has told me he would give anything just to be able to mow the lawn. Once. He has also revealed that the only place he can go for relief is in his dreams, where he can walk and run and feel alive again.

I talk to him pretty much every day. He is a huge part of my life and I am very close to him. I'm sure that's why he is usually on my mind and why I try to be thankful, every day, for the health I have.

I am so grateful that I can exercise whenever I want. I am so thankful that I can get up in the middle of the night and go the bathroom by myself.

I think most people take good health for granted and come to expect their independence as a basic human right. But I see it as a gift from God. No, I am not always thinking about how fortunate I am. I do get mad at the person who cut me off on the freeway.

I get annoyed when I break out with acne. Currently I have a brightly colored Sesame Street band aid on my neck where I popped a boil this morning. My kids told me the "boo boo" was so disgusting I should cover it with a band aid. Even a brightly colored band aid that will bring more attention to your neck is better than that thing, Mom, they told me with their brows furrowed.

Flu and colds? I'll take 'em. Headaches and itchy skin. Sign me up. Aches and pains? No sweat. I'll gladly deal with the garden-variety bouts of sickness while thanking God daily that I can pick my girls up and swing them around in the air while smothering them with kisses.

I'm just saying what has been said many times before. Please do yourself a favor and stop to smell the roses while you can. Everyday tasks that you take for granted are small miracles to someone else who is disabled.

Just recognize, for yourself, that life is truly a marvel. You can find wonder in everything and anything. Hug your cat, kiss your dog and savor your cup of coffee. Tell your favorite person that you love him or her.

I'll quietly step off my soap box now. Thanks for listening.


2007-02-02 at 10:03 a.m.

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