For the past seven weeks, I have experienced life as a one-legged man. While I have spent years using crutches, of which plenty of that time was non-weight bearing, none of it quite compares to having the leg missing. Needless to say it has been a humbling experience and one that has made me realize how grateful I should have been for the ease of doing so many things, which have now become so difficult to do. It has also made me realize how grateful I am for what I still have and simple things such as a pair of crutches. My leg has been replaced with a pair of crutches, something most people would avoid needing at any cost, however my crutches have become my most valued possessions and something I am extremely grateful to have. Without them, I would have lost my freedom and independence.
November is the month in the United States that Americans give thanks for all the things we are grateful for, so I thought it only appropriate to write about what I am thankful for in my life. I have many, many things to be thankful for and the past seven weeks have reminded me how fortunate I am, so I will try to express my thanks and promise to try not to make it too sappy.
I am thankful for my family
I have been blessed with three healthy, smart and good kids. They each are special in their own way. While they certainly have their trying moments, I am very fortunate to have my kids and they have given me joy and pleasure every day since they were born. I am also blessed to have a wonderful wife. There’s no question that when going through an illness or disabling condition you learn if you’ve married the right person. I most certainly did; my wife’s support has never wavered and I could not have ever got through the past six years without her by side.
I am thankful I was given the strength and perseverance to survive adversity
After years of surgeries that were unsuccessful ending in disabling pain, I could have easily given in, taken to my couch and collected disability for the rest of my life. Sadly, I have met plenty of people who reported that their disabled spouses have taken to their beds instead of accepting their losses, using what they still have to get out and live their lives. Every day, while I am out living my life, I am grateful that I had the strength and perseverance not to allow my disability to destroy not only my life, but the lives of my family as well.
I am thankful for my job
My job might not give me the satisfaction that teaching gave me, but it is a job and I am earning income which is doing my part in helping to support my family. The odds were against me as an unemployed newly-disabled 48 year old man. Not only was my age and disability against me, but we currently live in an economy where jobs are almost impossible to come by. Therefore, no matter what is happening at work, good or bad, I always stop and think about how fortunate I am to have not only a job, but a decent job. Suddenly all the office B.S. doesn’t seem important.
I am thankful for extended family who I can reach out to for support
During times of sickness and need, people outside our immediate families can provide necessary support. While going through my recent amputation surgery, my extended family members were a huge support, not only to me, but in giving my wife some much needed breaks. I am grateful to all my family members who visited, called, texted and kept me company late at night when I was feeling like crap and didn’t want to be alone.
I am thankful for my home
My family and I are very fortunate to live in a warm comfortable home where we have everything we could ever need and more. With so many families in this world living without shelter, warmth, proper clothing or food, we are the luckiest people in the world. This is something I often take for granted and I need to learn to be grateful for this every day.
It is important that we keep life in perspective. No matter what our own troubles may be, we need to be grateful for what we have. During the past six years, I have always kept perspective of my situation, realizing that there were so many others going through much worse. There are so many people in this world going through injury, sickness and impoverished conditions that make my situation seem minor. At every turn in my journey with this ankle I have pushed forward knowing I did not have a life-threatening disease and the worst that would happen is I would lose my left leg. Yet I would survive, I would use crutches, get a prosthetic leg and learn how to live a full life.
I have survived my worst, amputation, and my life has most certainly not ended. Not only in the month of November but all year long, stop and take time to be grateful for all that you have. When you keep focus on all the good things in your life, your problems are easier to bear.
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