Sunday, November 13, 2016

What Thanksgiving Means to Someone With Mast Cell Disease

Gone are the days of sitting on the bench style seat at my Grandma's kitchen table, succumbing to the gluttony over a plate of her famous "foam cookies" and chocolate fondu. Many will not be partaking in the food centered festivities of this year's Thanksgiving, myself included. This may be due to a variety of reasons. However, with a diagnosis of Mast Cell Disease, this sort of exclusion extends beyond the dinner table. Thanksgiving is no easy feat with mast cells overreacting more than my Great Aunt Betty, never failing to imply that my flushed cheeks are the result of embarrassing relationship inquiries rather than a waft of her cheap perfume.

So, what does Thanksgiving mean to someone with a Mast Cell Disease?

Thanksgiving represents the struggle to live.

It means settling for bland white rice instead of the regular turkey, stuffing, and pie.

Or downing elemental formula through heaving gulps or pumping it via feeding tube.

It includes reactions from airborne food triggers being cooked in your presence.

It means isolation, retreating into a room with a fancy air purifier to escape the swells caused by the perfumes and detergents of the guests.

This is not the life that anybody necessarily wants, nor is it one that is deserved. A holiday like Thanksgiving is hard to attribute a positive meaning to when the day is brimming with hardships. But Thanksgiving also signifies something deeper when you have Mast Cell Disease. The faulty cells release a thousand reasons for gratitude with every harmful mediator. It is more than the isolation.

It represents thankfulness to live, to continue fighting another day.

It means to consider the repulsive formula, feeding tubes, and lines as a positive.

And the fancy purifiers a blessing, cleansing the air of the negatives while replacing them with a new perspective with each inhalation.

It is a reminder to be appreciative of the people in our lives, even good ol' Great Aunt Betty ensuring her new perfume permeates any olfactory sense up to a mile away.

"Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." - Psalm 107:8-9