Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: How do you describe it, exactly?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicTime often flies by when you’re living, and when you have a chronic illness, time passes sometimes in odd ways. Slowly, in some measure, because living with pain is especially, well, painful, and the more pain you feel, the slower time seems to move (just think of waiting for a med to kick in, for example).

Time also passes quickly, especially when it comes to your external life. I am constantly amazed at how I can go weeks without talking to a particular friend, but it seems like much less time has passed.

When illness isolates us, loneliness can be hard to cope with. But when we emerge from our flare, or are finally able to reach out, again, it can be difficult to deal with, too. Because many people, whom we call friends, have not been with us for that particular siege, and with the passage of time and the seriousness of the episode/flare/illness events, we do change and grow, however subtly.

How, then, do you describe to those you haven’t seen or spoken with in ages, how you really are? How life is for you? What your relationships with them is, now that more time has passed and things haven’t exactly been easy in the interim?

As much as we love our friends and dear family members, illness affords us only so much quality time to devote to individuals while we’re struggling to stay afloat health-wise. I learned long ago that it’s okay not to have as many “close” friends as I once did, because I simply don’t have that much time and energy, as much as I’d want to. So, I bring my closest friends along with  me on my illness journey (and I’m along with them), and for others with whom I’m friendly, and when I “come up for air,” I try to explain briefly, and then move on with the present.

In short, we don’t have to explain to everyone everything that goes on with our illnesses – we’d run out of energy mighty fast if we did! But we should stay close to those with whom we are close, and treasure those dear friendships that sustain us and with whom we can also be a good friend.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Illness: Managing the Munchies

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of voraorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of voraorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I really, really, really like chocolate. Chocolate and almonds. Or, just chocolate.

And yet, I know how bad it can be if I over-indulge. Extra weight on lupus-arthritic joints can add pain on top of pain. So, I try to manage…well…try is the operative word, here.

The same reasons we like to munch on goodies in health can be the same reasons we munch when we’re fighting chronic illness and pain. The sheer pleasure of it, of course, but also for other reasons. For example, perhaps you’ve sailed through a milestone in treatment. Does “celebrate” equal “munch away!”?

Or, you’re in the midst of a terrible flare, and nothing seems to be going right. Does “I’m so hurting…” equal “munch to medicate the sadness?”

Just as we manage other aspects of our lives, managing the munchies is really important. Almost as if we have to be our own “coach,” we can dole out goodies in a healthful way – and run all dietary items by our doctors first – and still placate the little nibbler in all of us.

We can substitute food items for other fun things – a day out, a good book, a trinket, or time with friends.

We can turn our thinking to “only the best for the best,” that is, as beloved children of God, who wants only the best for us, we can commit to good actions and healthful food items as a way of living out our Christian walk.

After speaking with our medical team and verifying what’s okay and what’s not with them, we can find we need not completely deprive ourselves of what we crave. Only, we might have to manage better  - and thus reap the benefits not and moving forward!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Illness: Managing the Usual with the Unusual

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicI’m typing this with a sore arm and a couple of month’s journey – again – to determine “once and for all” the reason why I don’t hold onto iron. For years, I’ve dealt with iron levels that get lower and lower until, finally, I have to have an infusion. And, for years, the reason for this, or, rather, the “usual” reason, is that I must be losing blood from somewhere, enough to account for the loss of ferritin. Only, turns out, I’m not. Turns out, for me, it’s another of those medical anomalies, and a reminder that some patients are, sometimes, more “unusual” than “usual.”

There are labs and there are diagnoses, “usual” proofs of certain conditions and then, well, there can be the “unusual” side of chronic illness. Lab results, for example, with their “normal ranges,” and people whose symptoms defy those ranges, even though the opposite should be true.

I think part of the reason for anomalies in lab reports and clinical manifestations is that, for many illnesses, the learning curve has yet to be fully explored. Some diseases are still not fully understood, and each patient is more like a piece in the overall cloth of medical understanding than a pinpoint on the well-established-in-stone “line.” And this brings an added responsibility on the patient to communicate clearly and help his or her doctors understand his or her particular situation.

After this latest spate of tests, invasive and non, I think the doubt has been lifted and the path is clear: I just don’t absorb iron, and the infusions will be a regular part of my overall healthcare. Not especially pleasant, but I’ll make the best of it, as it will definitively address at least this one component of my health problems. And I’ll be sure to keep all reports and records documenting this so that, if I have to see a new doctor, I can bring him or her on board immediately.

It’s quite an individual thing, this art and science of diagnosis.  Meaning, the patient and his or her doctor have to work very closely together, both understanding that, at times, the picture is quite usual, and other times, even though rare, quite unusual.

Reminds me of the Scripture passage, to paraphrase, that we are, indeed wonderfully and fearfully made!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Scripture: Sometimes, I Have to Laugh

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Arvind Balarman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balarman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I once told someone that I find much humor in the Bible, that I even laughed sometimes, as I read it. She looked at me as if I’d spoken heresy, and mumbled, “I can’t imagine…”

I didn’t mean that I was making fun of Scripture, but that there are some passages that seem, on the face of it, a bit absurd, or, when looked at deeper, reflect the foibles of we humans in the face of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.

One example:

Psalm 88 is described in my Bible (New American Version), as “A Despairing Lament.” Verse 2 is:

“Lord, my God, I call out by day;  at night I cry aloud in your presence.”

Certainly, the speaker is deepy troubled by something, and in despair, praying and praying to God about his or her problem. Haven’t we all been there at some point? But, the humor of it for me is Verse 3, when taken with Verse 2:

“Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry.”

Now, I fully doubt that the Lord did not hear the calls and cries expressed in Verse 2. In fact, I think we can be very sure the Lord heard every, single one. The humor I find here is expressed in the oh-so-human response of the pray-er: He (or she) keeps pelting God with pleas, but is deaf to hearing God’s response because of the verbal salvo.

Isn’t that so like we humans? We think that if we pray more, God will answer us exactly as we want him to. And in our praying and praying, we don’t take time to listen. We don’t even pick up on his subtle hints, his spiritual “call-waiting” beeps that let us know, yes, that he hears us and is responding.

Yes, sometimes when I read Scripture, I shake my head and laugh. Because, reflected in those words and people of long ago, I so clearly see humannity today. I see myself.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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