- Parents - Who support us, drive us to all of our appointments, stay by our hospital bed 24/7 and try to make our lives as normal and full of happiness as much as they can. In a heartbeat they would switch places with us, if that meant we didn't have to go through all that we do. They search for the best doctors, get second or even third opinions and they fight for our lives. They are why we are still alive.
- Family - Siblings especially who step up to the plate to help run the household when mom and dad aren't home. They don't complain about mom and dad being gone so much and as they try to live a normal life during the time that we're in the hospital, they have the same amount of fear on their shoulders as everyone else - sometimes though the siblings don't talk about it and they keep it all inside.
- Doctors - Especially the ones who aren't afraid to ask for second opinions and the ones who listen to what we're saying. The doctors who while saving our lives don't forget that we're people and not just a diagnosis.
- Nurses - They spend most time with you when you're in the hospital, behind your parents. Their kind, supportive and even though they have to poke us, wake us up in the middle of the night and bug us every hour for vitals - they do it with love and kindness. They see us on our best days and they put up with us on our worsts, understanding that we just want to go home.
- Medical Technology - Advances in medical technology have saved our lives, more than once. Medications, new tests, ECMO, pacemakers, defibrillators, and different types of instruments that make surgery less dangerous. We wouldn't be here without these important advances.
- Teachers - The ones who have been so understanding and supportive of us; especially when we miss a lot of school. They want us to learn and are dedicated to helping us, no matter what it takes. For some of us, our illnesses are invisible so the teachers who can understand that just because we look fine doesn't mean we are - they are worth their weight in gold.
- Friends - When you miss a lot of school, its hard to make friends let alone keep them. So it's always great to find that group of friends who text you even when you're not at school, or they visit you when you're in the hospital. When they text or visit you, you get a small feeling of the real world. They are normalcy to us, they talk about movies, school drama, who's dating who - all of those fluffy non-important things but they take your mind off of what is going on.
- Therapist/Psychologist - I've seen 2 psychologist and 1 therapist in my life; and each one of them has helped me tremendously. Living with a chronic and/or terminal illness, there is a lot of worry, depression, anxiety, fear and even anger at times. For me, the therapist helped with my depression. For some people there might be that stigma of seeing a therapist or that it makes you weak. But its the exact opposite. They listen, they care, they help. To be honest, I don't think I would have such a great attitude and outlook on life if I hadn't gone to therapy and gotten help with how to deal with my illness.
I hope that everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving! I know mine was full of family, laughter and smiles - and hope yours was as well. While I do look forward to Thanksgiving because I can break my low-salt diet, its one of my favorite Holidays for a whole different reason. There is so much to be thankful for in my life, more than I could list. The amount of people I have who have supported and cared for me throughout my journey is what I'm most thankful for. Without you guys, without your prayers, your love, your kindness - I wouldn't be where I am today physically or emotionally. You all have played an important role in my journey and I am thankful for each and every one of you. Thank you.
Hope and Love,