If you have Autoimmune Encephalitis or are a loved one or caregiver of someone with AE, you know dependance. The AE Warrior is dependent. We are dependent on many things be it friend’s and family’s ability to take us to doctor’s appointments, rehab, food stores or for a simple ride around the countryside. We are dependent on canes and walkers, computers, and sign language for communication. We can be dependent on stair or wheelchair lifts. We are dependent on medical teams to understand AE and suggest best treatment options. We are dependent on our AE family as a community to get us thru a particularly bad day or week or month. We are dependent on the minds and hearts of others to help, accept, understand, and love us.
If you live in the United States, you know July 4th, every year, is a national holiday. It is Independence Day. It is a day much celebrated with family or friends, with fireworks and cooking out. It is a day of fun and laughter and overall joyful celebration.
If you are an AE Warrior, you know the need and desire for independence. Our dependence on the many things we need to survive AE may not have been on our mental radar before AE took over our lives in one form or another. For an AE Warrior, independence may mean many things. It may mean not needing someone’s help to turn on the lights or start your computer. It may mean no longer requiring a cane to be able to walk. It may mean no longer needing one infusion or another. For me, independence was the ability to drive again. That day is forever seared into my brain. I felt like driving down some country road, windows wide open, sun on my face and singing at the top of my lungs. It also came when I was once again able to concentrate enough to be able to read and understand a book. I felt like I had conquered a giant mountain!! I felt independence and it felt good, really good! I wanted to shout it from a mountain top!
In the spirit of celebration, I suggest we honor our AE independences big and small. We may or may not celebrate with cook outs and fireworks but maybe a little ‘happy’ dance in the kitchen or phone call to a loved one. May we learn to commemorate those small and large events that mark progress in our AE journey. This may not be easy some days but maybe, just maybe if we celebrate these small milestones of progress, it will help propel us onward on those other days when forward progress seems slow or nonexistent.
Happy AE Independence Day to all of you AE Warriors, loved ones and caregivers!!