|Players Right After the Snap|
I have found that adaptability is a good trait to develop (if you aren't already blessed with it) when you have autoimmune disease. I realize it's news to few of you but, for most of us, having a chronic illness means that you have much less control over your life. How you feel varies on a day to day basis and making plans in advance can be futile.
I have had to work on becoming adaptable. It's not in my nature. I like to set a goal, apply laser focus, and accomplish it within a specific timeframe. If only life were still so simple now. Becoming adaptable has meant finding new interests or enjoying my previous hobbies in different ways. I used to play sports, exercise, go to the gym. These days exercising no longer means competitive sports or going for a run and pushing myself to the limit. I'm lucky to exercise at all.
One channel I have found as a way to replace my enjoyment of participating in competitive sports has been to become an avid sports fan. I used to enjoy the experience of attending sports games, but I didn't watch many games on TV. In my new "autoimmune life," I decided that I would start watching football and "learn" the game. I found that I actually grew to love watching and, as an added attraction, it was a great way for me to bond with my husband--a major football fan.
To my surprise, I came to realize that football is a really complicated and intricate game. It is one thing to get the basic gist of what's going on in the game and another to have a good grasp on the multitude of offensive and defensive plays. (I still have a long way to go.) Understanding football became a project, one that I could do while lying on the couch. The excitement of the games often made me forget that I wasn't feeling well.
As my enjoyment of the game continued to grow over the last few years, I made attending a NFL game in person a goal. I wanted to watch my favorite team, the New York Giants. The catch was that I needed to be well enough to go to game.
The last two months I've had some improvement in my autoimmune symptoms and this fall seemed like it could be my chance. My husband and I got tickets to a game, keeping our fingers crossed that I would actually be able to make it.
For a change, everything actually worked out. The weather was perfect for me -- in the low 70s and cloudy, so I wasn't concerned about the sun causing a flare. While I was disappointed that the Giants played dismally, there was excitement to just being there with 80,000 other people cheering and rooting. I can't remember the last time that I've had that kind of experience. A year ago, I couldn't have imagined being well enough to make the trip to the stadium, having the energy to sit through four hours of football, and contend with large crowds and lines.
This experience certainly reminded me that while it's important to accept having a chronic illness and its limitations, it is just as important to celebrate those moments when I can tell autoimmune disease to take a back seat. Now, hopefully, the Giants will turn their season around so I have something to look forward to watching this fall on Sunday afternoons!