Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: Dare to Be You!

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Aduldej/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Aduldej/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Most of us who live with chronic illness become very creative when it comes to coping. Perhaps we have an “alter ego,” in the shape of a stuffed teddy bear or other inanimate object, and vent our frustrations on it instead of our loved ones. Or, perhaps we have a favorite color and “trick out” our canes, walkers, or sun protective clothing accordingly. Maybe your voice mail greeting is your “creative turf,” or perhaps, like me, you enjoy wearing different colors and styles of wigs depending on your mood.

These and other coping mechanisms might seem odd to others, but we know that they help us through our days (especially our really bad days), and thus we can go about our days and nights with better moods.

But, sometimes, as we cope, we might get odd looks. Sideways glances. Or, head shakes and the dreaded, “Really?!” We know what these folks are thinking. “Is he/she cracking up?” “Is it too much for him/her?” “Doesn’t he/she realize how serious the situation is?”

I will admit that we need to take our illnesses seriously. But we also cannot let our health conditions rob us of what makes us uniquely us – and we cannot allow any amount of skepticism take away the spirit and humor that helps us, indeed, that often sustains us. We can and should express ourselves, let our imaginations soar, and plumb the depths of the creativity and other wonderful qualities that make us who we are.

So, don’t worry about standing out in a crowd. Dare to be you. I’ll dare to be me.

Who knows? Together, and individually, we just might start a trend!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

On the Inside Looking Out

posted by mpratt
Image Courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just as churches seem to be placing even greater emphasis on “community,” I and many of my fellow chronic illness and pain sufferers are gearing up and going inside before colder weather and cold and flu season. Indeed, for some of us, the sniffles can turn very ugly very quickly, especially if we are taking immunosuppressive drugs, which make us even more susceptible to infections.

But, wouldn’t you know it, we’re also moving into a spiritually potent time – ramping up celebrations and services of thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas.

How do we handle the seeming divergence of “community” and the individual constraints put upon us by our illnesses?

I think that, first, we have to be both trusting (in God) and realistic (about our unique situations).   In other words, God does want me to deepen my relationship with Him and do His work. He also expects me to be  responsible when it comes to health matters, even if it means “staying inside and looking out.”

Yes, sometimes, people in church might view this as being aloof, or not trusting enough. But I must listen to the small voice inside, not to the louder voices outside that fundamentally do not understand the whole picture. And, I feel it’s important to help others understand that within “community,” there are individuals who might not all be able to “go with the general flow.”

Of course, staying inside and away from “community” activities does not mean twiddling my thumbs!  The time is still to be used to grow spiritually and reach out in other ways (like this blog and other writing).

Yes, being “on the inside looking out,” is not optimal, but it is what it is. And, along with our more active and mobile brothers and sisters in Christ,  we can still spiritually grow, contribute, and thrive…just in our own unique way!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

The Essence of Coping with Chronic Illness Is a Strong and Willing Spirit

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of nuchylee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuchylee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do not stifle the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:19

I cannot count the times that this simple sentence has resonated in my head and heart.  As we all know, life with chronic pain and illness can be wearing, tearing down our resolve just as it depletes our energy. But the five words above always bring me back to what is really important, at least in my little corner of the world.

Although we are physically weaker than we would like to be, and we are sometimes not as emotionally resilient as we need to be, the more we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, the more we can rise above the struggle and keep shining with God’s love and grace.

Praying, “Lord, fill me with your Spirit and let it move me through the day,” is a powerful way to invite this essential component of coping into our routine.

Keeping these five simple words at-the-ready helps reinforce their strength in the midst of our weakness.

Understanding that the Holy Spirit is with us, even when we might not be able to consciously sense it, helps us move from stifling it to allowing it to work.

And, when the Spirit works, oh, my! What a difference it makes in all ways, large and small!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

What Season Are You In?

posted by mpratt

pic for website 2012After nearly 15 years with lupus, I’ve come to realize that the journey with the disease moves along much like the seasons of the year. Spring, full of energy and promise and new things, is much like the early days of getting the diagnosis. After a long time, you finally know what is wrong (and are validated that, yes, there is something wrong, even though many people told you it was “all in your head”). Spiritually, you’re full of praise and thanks – God’s finally answered your prayer and you know what’s wrong!

Next comes summer, when the heat is turned up and the days are longer, muggier, and you really begin to feel what life with lupus is about and how drastically it will change your “regular” self and routine. You pray for guidance. Perhaps you pray for better doctors. You pray that the labyrinth of  insurance and other paperwork will get sorted out. You pray your loved ones will understand and stand by you.

With the realization that lupus is chronic, from “summer,” you move into autumn. The days are chillier and you feel it in your joints and bones. The sunlight, which you enjoyed before your diagnosis, is much less present, and you feel less cheery. But, you cannot sit idle. After allowing yourself to rest during the “spring” and “summer” phase, you begin to seek more medical opinions, advice from other lupies, information from books and the Web. You are restless and not so very happy that this chronic illness is, well, chronic. You might pray more that God will heal you, take away the disease, or at least lift much of its burden from your shoulders.

“Winter” is, for me, much like being in the depths of a flare. The pain is worse, the disease activity is ramped up, and the meds are, perhaps, increased. But relief seems a long ways away. If it will ever come. God, at a time like this, might seem far away. It might become more difficult for you to emotionally desire to give thanks or praise Him. You might be too tired to pray at all.

But, then, the flare subsides. Your emotions thaw. You begin to have a little more energy. You can see the early-spring green emerging from the hard-packed, cold ground.

The beauty of thinking in terms of seasons is that we can understand a bit more about the swings we go through as we live years with a chronic illness. Although it might seem difficult to believe at times, there is a cycle to it, and there are ups and downs. And, especially, the more we understand that the lows we feel will not be forever, the more we can rest in the faith that God stays with us throughout and is always ready to comfort us, even in the coldest winter.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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