Seven Things I’m Thankful for This Holiday Season

Columnist Shawna Barnes is grateful to be settled in a new home this year

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by Shawna Barnes |

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How on earth is it the week of Thanksgiving already? It feels like we were just moving to Wisconsin, which happened back in April. We’re already seven months into this new life of ours, and six weeks from the start of a new year. How? Why? Huh?

Is anyone else feeling flabbergasted? Incredulous? Dumbfounded? Shocked?

It seems like we’ve fit right in here in northern Wisconsin and have always been members of this community. At the same time, it feels like we just left Maine and everything my husband and I have known for most of our 11 years together. Time is a fickle mistress, isn’t it?

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To celebrate the seven months of being in our new home, as well as the Thanksgiving holiday season, here are seven things I’m thankful for this week:

1. I’m thankful for the new friends we’ve made almost instantly. They’re the kind of friends I’ve always dreamed about having. Upon moving here to the town of Cable, we managed to find them. Or they found us.

2. I’m thankful for my Veterans Affairs (VA) care team, composed of medical professionals who work together to solve complex issues. I’m grateful they can admit when they don’t know something and need to bring in additional specialists or write referrals to get me to where I need to go. When you have a primary care physician, rheumatologist, neurologist, infusion nurse, counselor, and others, it’s important for everyone to work together so that nothing falls through the cracks.

3. Speaking of cracks, I’m thankful that very few things fell through the cracks during such a big move across the country. There were ample opportunities for this to happen, but proper preparation and due diligence before, during, and immediately after our move kept the hiccups to a minimum.

4. I’m thankful for a neurologist at the VA who believes in seronegative myasthenia gravis and who validates my symptoms, both for myasthenia gravis (MG) and other neurological issues.

5. I’m thankful for the ability to receive 100% of my care through the VA, which means I don’t have to worry about copays or insurance denials. If my VA care team says I need a specific treatment and it’s available, then I’ll get it. This doesn’t mean that everything is sunshine and rainbows, as many of the newer treatments for MG aren’t offered through the VA. If I ever needed treatment not offered by the VA, I’d need to use Tricare for retirees, as I was medically retired from the Army in 2011.

6. I’m thankful that my MG is responding well to my current treatment plan. My plan consists of regular intravenous immunoglobulin infusions, Imuran (azathioprine), Mestinon (pyridostigmine bromide), and prednisone.

7. I’m thankful for my husband, who is also my caregiver. Without him, I’d be unable to live as I do. I rely on him for more than I’d care to admit. If not for him, I’d be reliant on outside services and probably would need to be in an assisted living environment instead of the amazing piece of country paradise where we currently live.

Myasthenia gravis has taken a lot of things from me, but it’s also given me things in other areas. It’s easy to get stuck in the narrative of what it’s taken, but remaining in that negative mindset is hard. I’d dare to say that it’s even more work than allowing myself to feel the weight of myasthenia gravis while working toward a better tomorrow.

I’m thankful to be here, and I’m thankful that you’re here with me.

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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