Every year, we manage to make Christmas work—the presents, the get togethers, the decorating, the financial expenses! We even manage to get in some spirituality, Christmas movies and Christmas songs.
Even though my youngest autistic son has been terribly ill and in pain for the last four years, we have managed to have the Christmas spirit! Last year in November, he was diagnosed with a debilitating, incurable auto-immune illness called ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome). It is a medical condition characterized by long-term fatigue and other long-term symptoms that limit a person's ability to carry out ordinary daily activities. Despite constant sickness, severe pain, fatigue, suicide threats and attempts, expensive medical bills and waning hope, we still made Christmas work.
But can we do it again this year?
The only treatment they have given him in the traditional western medical world, is compression socks for orthostatic intolerance (OI). OI describes a condition in which an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart after an individual stands up from a lying down position. After 40 years of dedicated research, you would think they could come up with something more than SOCKS!
Anyway, after one financial issue after another this past year, mostly medical treatments, we are embarking on yet another diagnosis for his illness and another treatment plan. This time it is for Lyme Disease. It is an inflammatory disease characterized at first by a rash, headache, fever, and chills, and later by possible arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders, caused by bacteria that are transmitted by ticks.
For better or worse, we find ourselves without funds this Christmas. In fact, I have taken back gifts to the stores as much as I can. Do we care? Not really. For what is Christmas about? Sure, it is nice to receive presents and fun things to enjoy. But, oh, what joy and a miracle it would be to have our son well again so that he can move forward with his life and not be sick and in pain at such a young age.
Is our whole family on board? Yes. Even his autistic older brother has said he doesn’t want anything for Christmas except for his brother to get well. So, we will put up our artificial tree with old ornaments, eat from our food storage, watch old movies we already have, visit with friends, do as much service as we can for others and pray that God can give us a miracle of health rather than a new video game or big-sized TV.
As the Grinch learned, “"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." Christmas truly is what you make it.
Cindy A. Christiansen
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