Graduations, Elephants, and Christmas Blessings

Graduations, Elephants, and Christmas Blessings

Scleroderma and the Ordinary Girl

Last weekend was our son’s graduation in Dunedin, a city in southern New Zealand that is home to Otago University. We were extremely proud to be there to watch him receive his degree in physical education.

Traveling to Dunedin involved a five-hour car trip, complete with bathroom breaks and lunch at a nice coffee lounge. I was sure to stay hydrated and have all my medications close at hand. Arm and leg stretches were compulsory to stop me from seizing up, and warm clothes were packed to combat Raynaud’s, despite it being summer in New Zealand.

(Courtesy of Kim Tocker)

I’ve become used to traveling with scleroderma and have developed a comprehensive list of do’s and dont’s. Consequently, our trip went without a hitch. 

However, there was one thing I didn’t have the foresight to prepare for.

Seeing one of your children graduate is a momentous occasion. It is an event not to be missed. It is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, alongside weddings and the birth of grandchildren. So, as I lie in bed after the exciting day had come to an end, it was with dismay that I found myself beginning to wonder whether I would be around to see my kids’ other important life events unfold.

Now, I know this sounds like a depressing thing to be focusing on after such a wonderful day, but honestly, I think most people with serious medical conditions have these thoughts. I think that it is important to acknowledge them rather than use up my precious energy trying to avoid thinking about it. For me, acknowledging the elephant in the room makes it less scary.

The other thing that happens is that if I can see the darkness, then it makes the light brighter. I’m not certain if that’s the way it works for everyone, but it certainly does for me.

So, while it was sad to think I may miss some things, in acknowledging this, it actually means that my current blessings stand out like the precious gifts that they are. Each wonderful milestone I get to experience with my children is a treasure to be prized and cherished.

The additional spinoff is that this appreciation spills over into other ordinary things in my life.

This Christmas, I feel truly blessed, not only to be experiencing another happy holiday with my family but also because I have been able to find the gratitude to appreciate this and many other gifts life has to offer this Scleroderma Warrior.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

***

Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.

I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.
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I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.

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