Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

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

Let’s Hear It for Christmas in July!

posted by mpratt

CrecheforblogI used to think that “Christmas in July” events were only commercial enterprises, destined to convince people to “shop now!” or “buy now!” But, this year, I’m embracing “Christmas in July” for what it truly can be – a reminder to kindle and care for the precious spirit of Christmas all year round, especially when the weather is the hottest and we’re not bundled up protectively against frigid winter temps.

Yes, by this time of the year, many of us are already tired of doctors’ appointments and procedures, pain and illness, and the push-pull of flares that bring us in and out of activities. We might feel that proverbial “murky middle” of time, when we are slogging through individual days and not feeling as if we’re making much progress.

Celebrating Christmas in July, however slightly, helps revive more tender feelings of comfort, light, and fellowship. Hearing a carol reminds us of the gift of the baby Jesus that is not just for the month of December, but year round.

We don’t have to buy a thing in order to stir up the flame of joy at God’s self-less gift, his Son born of Mary. All we have to do is turn to Christmas, now, for it is ever-ready, even beneath the blistering mid-summer sun.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Illness: Faith and the Future

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicFifty years ago, or perhaps even less, someone with a diagnosis of lupus could not expect a “normal”  lifespan. There was so little understanding of the disease, and few ways to treat the symptoms and flares, proctively or otherwise.

Today is a bit of a different story, as it is for other chronic illnesses. People still do die from lupus and lupus complications “before their time,” but, as one rheumatologist said, lupus patients today can expect a relatively “normal” lifespan, albeit an uncomfortable one.

So, with that in mind, it’s a good idea, periodically, to reflect upon the future. And, actually, to envision the kind of life you hope to lead, even with a serious chronic health condition. To put your hopes to prayer, and to work today at being as strong as possible so that your hopes might, with God’s help and your medical team’s support, become reality.

Often, we color our thoughts of the future with the darkness that is ongoing, painful illness. We might think, “I don’t know…if I have to live with this disease for years, it’s not going to be fun/easy/enjoyable/purposeful.” Or, we might lose sight of the trust we have in God to bring us from today to tomorrow with more than a little bit of solace, comfort, and joy. We might not take steps today that can help us in the future (preparing for “retirement,” for example, or thinking about the care we might need as we age).

But, God has a purpose for each of us, and a love for us that transcends the pain that clouds our minds and dims our spirits. As we reach to him now, and renew our trust in him, we can lift ourselves out of today and point toward a future that, yes, might still be punctuated with illness, but will also be filled with many good blessings.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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