4 Tips on Celebrating a Holiday Alone

November 26, 2014 2:45 PM

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I spent the past two Thanksgivings alone -- I missed the usual Thanksgiving dinner, which consists of forty relatives. All my aunts, uncles, cousins, and I are close -- most of us live in the same state. This year I hope not to miss Thanksgiving (or Christmas) but I'm not sure if it's safe to go. I've been struggling with allergic conjunctivitis for three weeks, which has caused tremendous pain in my ears and eyes. My left eye is inflamed. I have a neuromuscular autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis (MG). Like other friends of mine with MG, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and other illnesses, I have to weigh the joys of being with loved ones against the risks of getting a cold or the flu, which can lead to relapses, hospitalization, and weeks (or months) bedridden.

Nobody wants to celebrate a holiday alone. Please don't think I'm suggesting that chronically ill people lock themselves up from their family and friends. What I am saying is this: According to the CDC, between 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu every year. And one in four p...

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