For a long time, the holiday season was more than simply a time to decorate the house, see lots of family and friends, and engage in all the rituals and traditions we hold dear. It was also synonymous with being in the hospital—for seven out of the last eight years, I’ve spent either Thanksgiving and Christmas or the days before and after them in the dreary world of the hospital.
Between end-of-semester craziness, grueling hours, all the associated extras of this time of year, and the infections and viruses that go hand in hand with the colder months, I didn’t stand a chance of getting an infection and not ending up in the ER or the inpatient floor.
While Christmas and Thanksgiving and all the time in between are marked by illness, New Year’s has started to take on much more positive associations for me. Three years ago on New Year’s Eve, I met the man who would become my husband. (See the article about this published in the Boston Globe Magazine here). With that meeting, my life began to turn around. Right round the same time, I was diagnosed with PCD and celiac disease, started my daily chest PT and rigorous new medication regimen, and finally began to fully understand why I had always been so sick. Just as my medical history finally started to make sense and I was on the right track in terms of establishing some stability, my love life fell into place as well.
Since then, New Year’s Eve has been much more meaningful to me—I’ve always hated the stupid hats, noisemakers, and inevitably disappointing parties that symbolize typical New Year’s revelry. But now it’s the anniversary of when I met John and stands for the period in my life when things started to change for the better in every sense—which, by the way, is no coincidence.
Every New Year’s since then I try to build on that sense of renewal and hope and try to build on the gains in my health (and my relationship and professional life) that I started to accumulate three years ago.
Last New Year’s Day I needed to go to the hospital. However, unlike most of the trips of my holiday past, I was only there overnight. This New Year’s was a huge milestone for me because it marked exactly one year since I’ve needed to be hospitalized for respiratory problems. Sure, I’ve had plenty of nasty infections, lots of bad days, and new complications. But I’ve been able to maintain a stable prognosis for 12 months, something I haven’t been able to say in more than a decade—here’s hoping 2007 continues the trend.
For all you chronic people out there, no matter what your goals for 2007 are in terms of maintaining your best health, lots of luck!