Learning to Be Thankful for What I Have Instead of Envious of Others

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by Ari Anderson |

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sma technology | SMA News Today | Main graphic for "Soaring With Hope," a column by Ari Anderson

Have you ever looked at pictures of people on social media and wished that was you?

The human race is made up of many different shades. At some point, though, we all turn green from envy. These feelings can greatly affect people with chronic illnesses and lead to an especially potent form of bitterness. This poison used to flow through my veins, but I found a cure.

Right now, the pandemic and the coronavirus delta variant are making it dangerous for many of us to hang out with one another. However, I used to go on Facebook and see all the fun people were having with their friends and loved ones. As I saw them beaming, I wished for a life that wasn’t mine.

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Such dangerous thinking had a way of making me devalue my own life and not appreciate what I already had. True, I’ve never had the freedom to get in a car and drive myself wherever I want. If you knew me, you would see that I have much more independence with my Quantum Edge 3 wheelchair than most would ever dream possible. It is far from a standard wheelchair that allows me to drive myself around.

Through the miracle of Bluetooth technology, I can use my powered chair to control everything else in my room that requires electrical power. Since I can’t raise my arm to flip the light switch on my wall or raise the remote to control the TV, all I have to do is slightly move three of my fingers to operate the controls on my chair. These controls, in turn, activate the phone mounted next to them. By continuing to manipulate the chair controls with my fingers, I can choose which app I want to access on my phone. I have an app for my fan, TV, air conditioning, ceiling lights, and even special party lights in my room. I bet you wish you could control all of that with just small finger movements, and without even getting out of your chair.

Now tell me, who envies whom?

As far as being jealous of other people’s close relationships, did I really lack the loved ones and friends I desired? Maybe I don’t recognize this enough, but a lot of people have done so much to protect me and make sure that I had what I needed. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

I’ve written plenty about North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, and how he has gone out of his way to save my services. Whenever I’ve asked him for help, he could have just said, “Well, I’ll see what I can do.” Then, understandably, he could have forgotten about my plea 10 minutes later because of all the work he has to do.

Keeping your word to help someone in need is a true mark of any friendship. I’m not using the word “friendship” lightly. Sen. Tillis and I contact each other even when there isn’t a serious matter to discuss. Just a few days ago, he emailed me to see how I was doing and tell me how much he enjoyed reading my last column.

In my writings, I’ve also expressed my gratitude for a nurse who worked six nights a week for me for almost a year. This may not sound like a huge deal, but it literally saved my life. I have way too many crucial respiratory needs at night, so I simply can’t go uncovered during those hours if I want to keep breathing. To complicate matters, due to their own medical reasons, I have no relatives that can fill in at night when a nurse isn’t available.

My special nurse saw this dire need, and selflessly decided to make whatever sacrifices were necessary in her personal life to save mine. She sacrificed her sleep and even much-needed time with her husband. By putting my needs ahead of her own, she defined for me what caring is all about. I will remember her example for the rest of my life.

I hope that what I have just shared gets you thinking about the precious things and people in your own life. Can you think of anything that would make others envious of you, instead of the other way around? When you remember what’s valuable in your life, you will glow bright with pride instead of turning green with envy.


Note: SMA News Today 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 SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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