We Recognized the Great Value in Community During the Pandemic

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by Lori Dunham |

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We are living in unprecedented times involving a pandemic and political and social unrest that has been debated in many homes and communities. 

Even amid all the disagreement and opposing views, I think most of us can agree that the benefits of community have been greatly missed over the past year. The isolation has highlighted the importance of daily interaction with others, connection with friends and family, and the support a community can offer

We all find community in different places. Some find it in the workplace. Others find it through church or school. Community abounds in neighborhoods, and still others find it through sports or the arts. 

Many people lost a great deal of community when the pandemic made it necessary for workplaces to send their employees home, churches to shut their doors, and parks, neighborhood pools, and gyms to close. 

Because our 16-year-old daughter Grace suffers from the autoimmune disease Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), we were extra careful with our quarantine. We felt disconnected when our kids’ school went virtual. Our girls felt the loss of blossoming friendships and the void of extracurricular activities. We missed people and community. 

I think our family felt the deepest loss when our church closed its doors. Not only was church a place of spiritual nourishment for our family, it was also a place where we sought out deep friendship. We gave and received tremendous encouragement and support through our church community. Suddenly, this support was gone and it left a gaping hole. 

Now, a year later, as I see glimpses of community forming once again, I breathe in deep the hope that comes with it. 

It is especially important for those living with or caring for someone with a rare disease to tap into the community available to them. This is critical not only for information, but also for the great encouragement and guidance others can offer. 

Just recently, I had major anxiety over some decisions we needed to make regarding my daughter’s LEMS treatment. Immediately, I reached out to a handful of people that I had connected with through a LEMS Facebook page and online forums. Community was just a phone call away.

All my fears were expelled as I talked through the decision I had to make with another mother of a LEMS patient. Connecting with someone who understood LEMS and the issues my daughter faces on a daily basis was priceless. 

At that moment, I knew that any effort I put into community, whether it’s the LEMS community or the church community, would be well worth it. When we find like-minded people and encourage one another, it produces rich relationships worthy of our time and efforts. 

At its best, community offers a refuge for those seeking a safe harbor. 

It exists even amid the pandemic isolation. Be proactive in searching for a safe community either on the internet or in person when possible. 

Seek that which you need to nourish your heart, soul, mind, and body. It will be well worth it. 

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”

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Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia.

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