Embracing the Coexistence of Joy and Sorrow

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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

While reflecting on my life today, a witty phrase popped into my head. I laughed to myself as I thought, “I don’t have to go looking for trouble, trouble will find me.”

As I’ve said before, if I didn’t have a sense of humor about some things, I would cry. Make no mistake, I don’t mind crying when I feel like it.

Yet, does it have to be an either-or choice? Do we have to choose whether to laugh or cry about something, or can we do both at the same time?

Readers of my column may remember that I have a fairly major surgery coming up to remove some large kidney stones from my right kidney. By the way, to get my preferred anesthesiologist lined up, I changed the date of my surgery from April 1 to April 29.

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Honestly, I feel overwhelmed when I think about the surgery. I’m man enough to admit that of all the problems I’ve faced in the past few years, this is an extra weight that brings tears to my eyes.

At the same time, I also feel great joy about the operation. I even feel the potential to laugh about it! After all, I have so much to look forward to after I get over this hump. While seriously planning for the surgery, I’ve also been having fun planning a trip to Disney World. With another COVID-19 variant on the rise, I certainly wouldn’t go on vacation right now. However, I have hope and faith that by the end of August, when the trip is scheduled, COVID-19 infection rates will be way down in the United States.

Just planning every detail of my stay at Disney has already been half the fun. Making an itinerary has kept my mind from dwelling on the operation. I’ve researched everything, from which rides I can go on with my wheelchair, to what I can buy in a themed area of the park called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Researching all of this has taken up many hours. The more I learn, the more excited and joyful I get, and that joy replaces much of my worry.

My trip to Disney World is basically my prize for jumping over the hurdle of this medical procedure and landing on my feet. The more I focus on my trip, the more I want to run toward this hurdle, shouting, “Bring it on!”

Having something to look forward to after a serious event is one way that joy and sorrow can coexist. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, but one that is so realistic.

I have plenty of other things to look forward to after my surgery. Reading about my other exciting news is something you can look forward to in the near future.

I’ve written a lot about building a network of advocates and finding those who recognize your worth. I believe that my most important source of support is my faith in God. Reading Psalm 23:4,6 also gives me a sense of joy and the ability to laugh in the face of worry. “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. … Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

I leave you with one final thought: If you’re ever in serious pain like I was, don’t wait to seek medical attention. It could turn out to be something serious like my kidney stones. You don’t want anything to get in the way of your life.

Thankfully, I’m not in any pain now, and I am about to get the issue taken care of. I eagerly await, along with all of you, for the good news of a successful surgery.

Until then, take care, and find things that you can look forward to in your own life!

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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