Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

On Harmony and Home

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicChronic illness can truly affect dynamics at home. If a child is ill, other siblings might resent the attention that parents have to give to him or her. If a parent is ill, the other parent might have to do “double duty,” and perhaps resent being so overworked. I’ve heard many times about arguments sparked because of the pressures of illness and pain, not to mention the stresses of financial and emotional burdens that health conditions bring. Personalities, pained and frustrated, can clash like the loud section of a symphony, and scare away quiet, peace and harmony.

I learn a lot from music. Oh, I enjoy it, too, but music theory has so much to teach us. Especially about harmony and how it relates to conflict.

We all want harmony, especially at home. But sometimes we misunderstand that “harmony” does not mean everyone’s feeling, doing, and thinking the same thing. Just as in music, harmony at home really happens when people understand and accept their roles, where they are “at” at a particular time, and what they and the others there are capable of doing. And then, they work together with these different roles to create the “music” of life within a family – the harmony that comes from being different.

Another important aspect of harmony is that it is not static. What one particular musical line does at the beginning of a piece might not be what it does in the end. So, too, it happens at home. What one person (parent or child) was and was able to do might not be what he or she is capable of now. But this does not meant that he or she has “gone away” from the family. It just means that he or she has a different role due to different circumstances. Again, differences recognized and coped with within a family unit create harmony.

It’s not easy, and it’s not something for which there is a quick “fix” and a void of future potential conflict or problems. But it is helpful to remember, all along the way, that harmony doesn’t mean we’re all the same. It means we all work, in our individual ways, within a common place/family – all for the good.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Illness: Less Balance, Less Stress?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I wish I could remember where I heard it (lupus brain fog kicking in here), and if I ever do, I’ll be sure to give credit where it’s due…(and if you know where you heard, it please let me know!), but someone very wise recently said there’s no such thing as “balance” when it comes to our multitasking, ever-so-busy lives. Talk about a very deep, deep breath! One of the most stressful things about living with chronic illness is that we patients often think we need to “merely” add our illness to our already-heavy list of responsibilities and “to-dos” and somehow balance them all throughout our days and nights. But, as we all learn at some point, this is much easier said than accomplished. For every time I’ve tried to “balance” my life with lupus, there have been times where the disease has intruded and taken over. For each carefully planned week, doctor’s appointment here, social event there, I’ve experienced the upheaval of flares or other surprises that have upended and re-prioritized everything. And for each of those times when life as I’d planned became life as I’d never imagined, stress naturally followed. What was I doing wrong, that I couldn’t balance it all? How could I avoid the problems in the future, thus perfectly balancing health issues with everything else? And then came that very wise person and that very wise – and rather obvious, when you think about it – thought: “Perfect balance,” even in the healthiest of times, isn’t achievable anyway, so why stress over it? Why not, instead, put thought and effort into better prioritizing, adding enough flexibility so that when health issues take center stage, the entire apple cart isn’t turned over and our stress is amplified? Looking at life this way, and not pressuring ourselves to achieve that ellusive ideal of balance, is immensely freeing! It allows us to modify our lives as we must, and take those inevitable curve balls more gracefully. It gets us away from self-criticizing that we’re somehow failing if we cannot balance everything in our lives, and it also helps us to work toward “quality” of relationships and experience, instead of mathematically calculating and striving for equal hours or days. Whew! Deep, deep breath, indeed! Blessings for the day, Maureen

Chronic Pain: Own It, Then Put It in Perspective

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Oh, how we wish we could just throw it away! Pains great and small, banish them to outer space and never take them back again. Yes, how we wish…but then, there’s how we feel and how we live. Pain still is. Not something we can jettison, but something we live with, whether it increases or decreases. Chronic pain means it’s with us for a long duration. So, I’ve decided, for my life, two things: It’s here, it’s not going away, so I’ll own it. But, I’ll also put it in a broader perspective. I have my pain, but I also have my life, of which pain is only a part. Sometimes a big part. Sometimes a small part. Of late, it’s been a greater part. But it’s not everything. If this seems simplistic, or naive, or even silly, well, I don’t think so. Some of the most important things we can do for the wellbeing of our spirits and emotional health are very simple (not simplistic). And one of them is to keep a good, balanced view of the totality of living. If we allow ourselves to be consumed by pain and crowd out the other things that we are and do, we become like a garden choked by weeds. But if we prune and tend, we can have a garden that can blossom and bloom, despite the weeds that will perpetually visit, but not overwhelm the good growth within. Blessings for the day, Maureen

Chronic Illness: The Next Generation

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicOne of the most significant ways that our life with illness affects others is in providing guidance and influence over the next generation of patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I didn’t consider this aspect of my “vocation.” I was, as many newly diagnosed people are, focused on my life, my illness, and my “little corner” of the world.

But, as days and years have passed, I’ve become more curious about how those younger are “coming up,” and how they are being molded by societal and individual attitudes. For example when we hear about how unfair and unjust the medical profession is, and how doctors and others are “in it for the money” and not for patient welfare, how does that influence young people to want to dedicate long, hard years of study to the medical profession? Does it inspire them? Encourage them? Or, deter them?

When “quick fixes” for medical problems are advertised so widely and loudly, what kind of influence does that have on young people when they experience the illness of a loved one, or their own illness, that lingers, draws on, and is chronically painful? Are they able to find determination to live well and in faith anyway? Or, do they become angry, disillusioned, and turn away from God’s hope and love?

Parental guidance is primary and vital in all ways, including helping children form healthy attitudes toward health. But, even if we’re on the outside, we can be part of the formation.

Several times, I’ve been asked to speak to groups of young people about what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, and how others can help. Through these workshops, I’ve learned that children naturally want to help. They have few biases about other people. They are naturally curious, too. As they get older, they form more personal ideas about the world, but they are still open, seeking. I try to remember this whenever I interact with young people, no matter how tired I am.

The future of healthcare resides, in great part, in laboratories and healthcare companies that develop and deliver care. But it lies in greater part with the people who will work in offices and hospitals and actually be the instruments of care. The more we help form, teach, and encourage those younger, the better off this world will be!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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