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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Food for Thought: The Theory of Everything, Part One

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicMovies can be tremendous entertainment, taking us out of our ordinary lives into an extraordinary world of storytelling. But sometimes, movies strike so close to home that they set off a cascade of thoughts, feelings, and questions.

I recently say “The Theory of Everything,” the based-on-a-true-story movie about Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane. I suppose people who do not have a serious chronic illness might react differently to the movie, but those who do have challenging health problems probably will see a deep, and perhaps too-true, parallel with their own lives and how they relate to their loved ones.

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Stephen and Jane meet, fall in love, wed, and have a family. But throughout this journey, Stephen’s physical health deteriorates drastically because of ALS, “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” a neuromuscular condition. As Stephen’s condition gets worse, Jane’s love is tested as she juggles three children and her husband, making her own goal of a PhD seem out of reach, at least for a time.

I won’t give away the whole story. (Of course, those who know who Stephen Hawking is probably can guess or already know some or most of it.) But I will say that the tale of a couple challenged by illness, challenged to the very brink of breaking, is not an unfamiliar one to many of us who struggle with life-altering illness and pain. And, when it’s put up on the “big screen,” it can be very, very difficult to watch.

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The movie stirred up lively discussion. How long would you, could you stay with a loved one whose health is so bad that it consumes your life, as well as your loved one’s? Are marriage vows, in the face of catastrophic health, breakable? Does God intend for someone to devote his- or herself entirely and “til death” to their sick spouse, or are they “allowed” to leave the relationship when the going gets tough?

When is a promise a promise, when does it become something obsolete, and when is a commitment a cross we are meant to bear? After all, we who live with pain and illness do not have the luxury of tossing it aside when it becomes too inconvenient or painful, when our journey hits the really bad spots and death or greater longevity with more complications loom.

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As our society becomes more self-centered (as if it isn’t enough already!), and life at all stages of development or existence seems be become more disposible, the questions stirred up by “The Theory of Everything” will only become more strident, the answers to them only more telling of what we as a society have become and what we as Christians are challenged to do and be.

In my life with lupus, I have seen so very many relationships break apart because of the illness of one partner. I’ve experienced rifts and ruptures, too. But I also have been blessed with tremendous, loving friends and family. And I praise God for that! I praise Him, too, for the blessings found in the midst of suffering, especially that of God’s eternal, abiding presence. And I pray that those who love people with illness and pain will find meaning and blessings in their lives of hard work, commitment, and exhausting love.

To be continued next week

Joy and Peace,

Maureen

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A Praying Spirit: Prayer with a Friend

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of ArvindBalaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ArvindBalaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jesus told us, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

This is particularly powerful when you think of prayer with others. Of course, God is with us at all times, never leaving, always loving. But the image of Jesus being “in the midst of” us when we pray with others is, well, almost palpable. And it brings up another image, too: Jesus as friend.

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Indeed, when we pray, whether with others or alone, we are not merely reciting words or tossing thoughts and desires, sins and praise, into the ether, the nebulous “beyond.” Rather, we are conversing with and listening to a dear friend, one who is “in our midst,” one who forgives, comforts, loves, and lifts up.

The next time you pray, think of Jesus as that friend who is right next to you, not far, always ready to respond.

What a difference that makes!

Peace,

Maureen

 

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Chronic Pain and Illness: Why the Front Office Matters

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicThey are more than just bodies that stand or sit between you and your doctor. They know more than what your co-pay is or what the office hours are. But, oh, how often, do we forget that the front office workers at a physician’s office matter, really, they do!  And the better we can work with them, the easier our care can become.

From the first call to get the first appointment to the last minute on a holiday weekend when you need a prescription refill, a doctor’s receptionist, record keeper, or billing staff provide invaluable assistance. The best of them have become almost like friends to me! Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful dealing with front office staff:

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Get to know the names of all (or at least most) of the front office staff in your doctor’s office. Call them by name, communicate on a human level.

Try to be mindful that the receptionist or staff member in charge of calling in refills might have a number of calls or requests ahead of yours.  If it’s an emergency, communicate politely and firmly.

If you’re calling to get a first appointment, you might be told it’ll be weeks before there’s an opening. Schedule the first available appointment, then ask to be put on a waiting list (most offices have them), and call back periodically to see if a spot has freed up.

Make every attempt to keep calm when asking why you’ve had to wait so long, or why your chart wasn’t pulled. (I know, this can be difficult!) Mistakes and delays do happen. (But if they happen a lot, you might consider changing doctors.)

Some medical offices don’t allow this, but for some of my docs, I give some kind of holiday gift to show my appreciation for everyone who has helped me throughout the year. A basket of cookies, a poinsettia plant, or just a card are nice gestures – and a way to show that you are thankful that they care!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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TLC Tuesday: A Breath of Fresh Air

posted by mpratt

pic for website 2012Today, give yourself a breath of fresh air. Not just a shallow, timid gasp. A full-fledged, rejuvenating intake of blessed and cleansing oxygen.

When we’re busy or tense, stressed or preocuppied, we might ignore the simple ways that we can reconnect, even for a moment, with God’s creation and the miracle that is our bodies. We might take for granted that our hearts beat, our muscles stretch and contract, and our lungs provide us with the air we need to function. But if we drag ourselves away from the pressing tasks that devour our attention, if we allow a few moments of fresh, cleansing air, we can better relax, regroup, and be set to face the rest of our day, breathing a sigh of blessed relief when our work is done and we can truly relax.

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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