Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’m Choosing an Action Word

Reflections on the new year and a year gone by

Shawna Barnes avatar

by Shawna Barnes |

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Refresh. Renew. Reflect. Reset.

It’s the time of year when folks tend to reflect on the months gone by and create resolutions for those to come. Those of us in the world of chronic illness, which includes myasthenia gravis (MG), are no different, although our reflections and resolutions might look a little different from others.

As I look back on 2022, it was a year of great upheaval for my family.

It saw my dream of owning a business dissipate when I had to close my print shop due to declining health. Then I started writing for Myasthenia Gravis News. I battled COVID-19 and came out the other side, albeit with some lingering symptoms. My husband and I sold our house in Maine and moved halfway across the country to Wisconsin. And that was just the first quarter of the year.

As we tried to settle into our new home, life continued to throw us curveballs. I “broke in” a new care team. I had minor surgery to have a PowerPort placed that has made intravenous immunoglobulin infusions easier to receive. As a result of regular infusions, my MG finally stabilized and started to improve.

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Quarter three saw continued stabilization of my MG symptoms. However, my body decided that the roller coaster wasn’t over yet, as it ramped up some old symptoms and brought new ones to the surface. I was able to meet more specialists and bring them into my care team while we narrowed down the culprit.

The quarter also saw us getting more involved with our new community, and I even opened up a shop on Etsy to support my creative outlets.

We said goodbye to a matriarch in our family when my great-grandma passed away in early September at the age of 104.

The last three months have been crazy. The culprit for my new symptoms was tentatively identified as fibromyalgia. My husband had to make a trip to Maine for two weeks when my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away less than a month later. Our community rallied around us and took care of me in his absence. My son moved from North Dakota to Minnesota to be closer to us and to help out when needed.

Making plans for 2023

This year, I was thankful that my service in the Army taught me how to respond to and overcome adversity. It is a skill that I have applied and utilized often! It has been a year of constant change and the need to react to various situations. Suffice it to say, we are tuckered!

Every year, my husband and I pick a word to focus on rather than make resolutions. Our word for 2023 is “reset.” Choosing a word allows us to live and act on goals throughout the year with realistic expectations.

Our plan involves resetting our commitments to ourselves. This includes placing our well-being as the No. 1 priority when making decisions or commitments. After years of pushing through to meet unrealistic goals, it’s time to set boundaries and take a step back.

I think one of the things that we in the MG community fail to do — to our own detriment — is establish boundaries with friends and family. It’s hard, because we still want to do all of the things we used to do but now can’t because myasthenia gravis has taken the ability from us.

Many of you might still be processing the grief and sense of loss that comes from a diagnosis of a disease with no cure.

If making New Year’s resolutions is daunting for you, leaves you feeling “less than,” or otherwise puts a bad taste in your mouth, I encourage you to try picking a word. If your year has been full of chaos, maybe your word is “calm” and you do what you can to keep calmness as a focus in your days.

Maybe you struggled with your mental health this year and want to improve your mindset, so you choose a word that helps you remember to refocus.

For me, it’s time to reset.

Reset my mindset.

Reset the definition of what realistic expectations look like for me going forward.

Reset boundaries.

And reset my smile, because damn if I’m not proud of how far I have come, the struggles and adversities I’ve overcome, and the fact that I’ve survived another year.

Here’s to 2023 — may it be what we make of it.

Note: Myasthenia Gravis 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 Myasthenia Gravis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to myasthenia gravis.


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