I’m Thankful for Community This Thanksgiving

I’m Thankful for Community This Thanksgiving
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The past few weeks have been a crazy whirlwind. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving, even though it’s certainly going to be very different this year. With COVID-19 spiking, people struggling, and necessary social distancing, it can hardly feel like a year for thanks, but there are still things for which I’m grateful.

Unlike so many others, I have retained my job, and I work for a school that takes precautions seriously and supports its faculty and staff. This allows me to work with at least some semblance of confidence in my safety despite my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, especially because I have a “safe space” in the way of my office. I know so many others have been hit hard by COVID-19, have lost their jobs, and are struggling to make ends meet. I see you.

Friends and family are probably more important than ever this year. While we may be socially distanced, that doesn’t mean we can’t still support and uplift one another. Those of us in the rare disease community understand better than most that the support of others can help us get through tough circumstances — this year even more so.

I try hard not only to be thankful for those who support me, but also to be a person who supports others. When we all share the load, hopefully we can lessen the burden someone else carries, even if only a little.

Thanksgiving this year will be a low-key affair for my family. It will just be me and my parents, who are part of my COVID-19 “bubble,” though we’re still quite careful around one another.

I’ll help with the cooking. It’s nice that I’ve now been dairy-free for almost a year and a half because I’ve found good ways to adapt most recipes. It’s amazing how much my EDS digestive symptoms have improved as a result. Although it has been an adjustment, the difference in how I feel has made it so worthwhile. I’m glad that after many years I’ve found something that helps to alleviate one of the more frustrating (and frankly embarrassing) parts of EDS.

This is hardly going to be a traditional holiday season. More people than ever see the holidays as a stressor rather than as a joy. While I’m thankful for what I have, I want to acknowledge that I’m likely in the minority.

If you are, like me, one of the lucky ones right now, I encourage you to both recognize that fact and to contribute to the people for whom COVID-19 has been far more detrimental — whether by safely volunteering, donating, or spreading awareness. Doing what we can for others, regardless of what that looks like, allows us to come together and maintain the personal connections that are difficult yet so important these days.

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Note: Ehlers-Danlos 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 Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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