It's ironic how I never considered myself lucky until after I was diagnosed with scleroderma. Yep, there's nothing like a devastating, chronic illness to help you put things into perspective.
I remember coming home from an appointment with my counselor not long after I was diagnosed. I was still in the "shock/freaked out" stage and was fully expecting to not make it another 5 years. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home just as it started to pour down rain. People were jockeying for a parking spot close to the door. I parked as far away from the door as I could and savored every delicious raindrop that fell upon my grateful head as I walked slowly into the store. I was tickled pink to be able to do my own grocery shopping, even in....no, especially in the pouring down rain. For a time, the sun shone brighter, the air smelled fresher, the rain tasted sweeter and the birds sang just for me.
I have to be honest; I haven't managed to maintain that level of gratitude for the past (almost) 2 years but I do keep finding more things to be grateful for everyday. I find myself saying, "Things could be worse," a lot. That helps to put things into perspective and gratitude falls naturally into place.
I have found that counting my blessings has made me a better person in many ways. Gratitude makes me a more positive person. Instead of focusing on the negative, or on things I don't have, or wish I had, I see all that I do have and appreciate it more. Being grateful for what I do have helps me to focus on the positive. (I still wish I had a jacuzzi on the patio though, strictly for health reasons of course! ;) )
I have come to accept scleroderma as a part of my life - a part of my life, not consuming my life. No matter how much more this disease may progress in me, I will never let it consume me or my life. I am more than scleroderma is or could ever do to me. Scleroderma may someday take more of my body but it will never take my spirit. That sounds all good but it's something I could never do without the help of friends and family.
Since my diagnosis I have slowed down a lot. You can't help it not to stop and smell the roses. So many wonderful little things become big when you pay attention. When you slow down, you can become a better listener, have more patience, see all the things you have to be grateful for and you will become a calmer, more peaceful person in the process.
In a way, sclero has brought me many blessings that I am grateful for and a lot of them are my friends here at ISN.