I was raised by my grandparents and I was very fortunate. My grandpa, being a deacon in our church, took me everywhere with him. I was his constant "tag-along" and I didn't mind one bit. He was always my hero. I remember how every sunday afternoon my grandpa would take me on a grocery shopping trip. This, however, was not the normal grocery shopping trip you might expect. After we would get the groceries packed in his old chevy S-10 we were on our way to a different house each week. My grandpa would bring groceries to those households that just couldn't quite afford the groceries they needed. Growing up my grandpa taught me that if God has blessed us, then it is our job to help bless others. I still find that so true today.
Pain and Depression
It hasn't been much over a year ago now when my pain and depression almost haulted my life. I truthfully don't know which one was worse the pain, or the depression. I can honestly say that if there were a day where my pain wasn't overwhelming, my depression was severe enough to make up for that. I find myself thinking often about those times and the time wasted that I can never get back. I feel blessed to be able to feed myself, dress myself, and walk myself to the bathroom. And though those aren't always easy, I am determined to do them for myself, only asking for help when I know I may overdo it. I feel so blessed and I am reminded of my duty and my want to help others who need it.
It has been almost a year ago now when my mother and I had a brilliant idea to start selling jewely. Making jewelry had always been a passion of mine, but I was fearful that my dream would never come true with the constant turning and crippling of my fingers and the severe pain in my hands. But I pursued my dream, working when I was able. And truth be told I threw many pity parties for myself on the days, weeks, and months that the pain was too unbearable for me to create. But somehow, like it always does, the light at the end of the tunnel became so clear that even my stubborn self couldn't ignore it. We started selling on ebay. My nine-year-old who was eight at the time made a couple mens necklaces and decided he wanted to donate a portion of it to the Arthritis Foundation in honor of me. He too was raised with my grandpa's same philosophy.
This year my mother and I decided to open up our own online boutique where we make and sell everything from jewelry to hand painted canes. My dream was coming true and there was no way I was going to let rheumatoid arthritis hold me back. In our many talks about the boutique we decided we wanted to donate a portion of every sale to the arthritis foundation who is always helping others. So before I knew it I was emailing back and forth with the Tulsa chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. As if that weren't exciting enough for us, this year the Arthritis Foundation has asked us to help raise money and sponsor their Jingle Bell Run in December. The amazing news didn't just end there. I was asked if I would like to present on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation at local health fairs and other gatherings. I will be meeting with my contact at the Arthritis Foundation soon to go over the details and to start my training. I have been so blessed with this oppertunity to help others who may feel that there is no help for them.
These last couple of months have been amazing for me. But throughout this whole journey I have learned that my dream isn't about opening my boutique. I have learned that my dream is about helping others. It's of helping the people who can't yet seem to even think about there ever being a light at the end of the tunnel.
Have you been blessed?
So look around today. Have you been blessed? You may not feel that you have. But let's think of it this way...Were you able to dress yourself today? Were you able to open your own bottles of medication? Were you even able to open your eyes without crying out in pain? If you answered any of these questions with a "yes", then you HAVE been blessed. For there are others out there suffering with the same pain we have all experienced who aren't yet able to dress themselves, or open their own bottles of medication. You may say "How can I help, I wouldn't even know where to start." So here's what you do...Go to the Arthritis Foundations website and find your local chapter. They always have things you can do to help. Besides, if I am able to even open my eyes without crying out in pain I feel blessed. We too often forget about the pain of those less fortunate than us because it is too easy to feel sorry for ourselves for the things we can no longer do. What we can do though is help. Together we can make a difference, even if it is helping someone get the diagnosis they have desperately been searching for, or raising money by doing a walk with the arthritis foundation. So look around today and ask yourselves "Have I been blessed?" And if you can answer that with a yes, then help the ones around you. You might just find that the one thing that helps you the most in your fight with rheumatoid arthritis, is helping others. In my case, it's been the best medicine I could ever ask for! Good luck and best wishes!
Published On: May 19, 2009