I got Lupus for Christmas. And Sjögrens Syndrome, too. They were wrapped up in a nice little package to go with my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Celiac Disease, and tied up with an imaginary bow. I didn’t get coal in my stocking, but I got the motherlode of autoimmune illness, delivered not by Santa, but by my new rheumatologist, with no Rudolph or tiny elves in sight.
That said, much like the star who struggles to climb atop the Christmas Tree, I always find a way to keep trying, and to keep my light — and my holiday spirit — alive. My star will shine despite these new curses-disguised-as-gifts. Sometimes, the world will have to bend to help me, much like the tree in this beloved commercial from my hometown. Sometimes, I’ll have to make the world bend at my will — after all, these kinds of conditions are all about adapting.
As my doctor pointed out, there isn’t a cure for any of this, and so it’s just a matter of doing what makes me feel good. If I want to go on meds, great. If not, he supports that, too. For once, I’ve found a doctor without an agenda — a doctor who wants me to just live my best life. And that was one great gift this holiday season.
And sure, I got some material presents … but the best gifts were those without a box or a bow: good times spent with my amazing family, my wonderful husband, my fabulous friends, and my adorable pets. The kindness of others. Good food. Lots of laughs. Countless memories.
That kind of good cheer is what gets me through year to year. While I firmly believe that autoimmune ailments belong on the naughty list, I’m happy to say that I still feel like one of the luckiest girls alive — and if you take a good look at your life, you probably will feel pretty darn lucky, too.
Just like material gifts don’t define the holiday season, illness or disability shouldn’t define your life.
So yes, I got lupus for Christmas — but I also received some amazing gifts that will never dim the shining light in my soul.
Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope you had a lovely — and healthy — holiday season. Stay tuned for our annual end-of-the-year arthritis blog, coming soon!
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You are a bright light, Ashley, and a great role model for those of us facing similar conditions. Keeping fighting the good fight! My motto is “fighting with a smile.” God bless you!