Michelle Gray was an active working mother when she was first diagnosed with scleroderma on November 11, 2016. From that day on, her life began to change—and Michelle changed with it. Michelle’s resourcefulness and ability to adapt to her challenging new circumstances has helped her make a new life. And by focusing on all she does have, rather than what she has lost, she faces each day with an attitude of gratitude.
Scleroderma has changed even the smallest details of Michelle’s daily life, beginning the moment she wakes up and gets dressed. “I have to take more time to decide what clothes I am going to wear,” she explains, “depending on how hard it will be for me to get myself dressed.” Because the tightening of the skin on her hands has limited their mobility, Michelle usually avoids clothes with buttons or zippers, and favors slip-on shoes.
Just eating a meal requires forethought and adjustments. “I have to get a lot of things cut up into small bites, and also cannot really hold some foods,” she says. For Michelle, life with scleroderma means that she is “always thinking about how or if I can do something with how my hands are, or if I will have the energy to do it.”
Still, Michelle chooses not to dwell on the negative. She takes pride in her ability to keep working at her office job and celebrates small triumphs every day. “I’m so grateful that I can still function enough to continue working and providing for my children,” she says. “I also often surprise myself with some things that I can do with my hands still, like being able to put on make-up, or wash my hair… just being able to still do some everyday tasks makes me proud every day.”
For Michelle, living with a sense of gratitude has been the key to enjoying life with scleroderma. “Every day can be a challenge, but I am grateful that I still get to experience life, even though it may be a little bit different.”