Beliefnet
Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Second close-up of pictureAs you begin to find answers to your questions after a diagnosis with a chronic illness, you and your doctor will be working on fine-tuning your condition and setting up an approach for treatment and follow-up. I discovered quickly that my life changed drastically – from social and professional appointments I went into days when medical tests, procedures, and doc appointments dominated my waking hours. It took a long time to understand all the ramifications of my diagnosis, and there were stops and starts along the way. Each person reacts to medications, for example, in a slightly different way (especially when they are combined in some treatment regimens). I sometimes felt as if I was talking with my doctors more than with family and friends!

All of this, of course, can be stress-filled and exhausting. All the more reason, I found, to carefully and tenaciously guard times of rest and reflection.

One of my favorite meditations in my book, Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness, is about using the metaphor of an athlete in training for life with chronic illness,. No better time to begin than in those early days, just after the diagnosis, when all things health come to the fore and dominate our days.

Key to the image of an athlete is, of course, high performance. Being alert, ready, and fit are hallmarks of an athlete who can achieve great things. So it is with us, too, as patients – being alert to how our disease is manifesting itself so we can report symptoms promptly and clearly to our docs, being ready to communicate what’s going on with us to our loved ones and medical team (taking notes is especially helpful), and being fit for the tests and tasks we have to do to protect our health (guarding our time for rest and recouperation).

We might not be athletes in the traditional sense – not able to run marathons, for example. But we do run hurdles as we take each test, each flare one by one. We do call upon inner stamina and grit to get to the end of long days. And we do use imaging of our own, thinking of what we can positively do to help ourselves be as strong as possible.

Yes, imagine that! We are athletes – and we are strong!

Peace,

Maureen

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