Beliefnet
Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Image Courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At some point, it happens to each of us who has a serious chronic illness. We feel something “off,” and it doesn’t go away.

Perhaps it is a dull pain. Or a sharp pang. Or a rash. Or a sudden swelling. And we think, “Oh, no. Not again. Really?!”

We might have just been through a bad flare or medical procedure and are simply sick of seeing our doctors, making the effort to get to the docs’ offices, or adding “one more thing” to our long list of ills. Or, perhaps, our condition has been fairly quiet and hope has crept up so softly that we are comforted, optimistic that we’re embarking on a long stretch of relative calm. Maybe we have an appointment coming up, and we don’t want to have to call and ask an over-worked medical assistant to wiggle extra space for us so we can get in earlier than scheduled.

Whatever the back-story, sometimes we wait to call the doctor and wait for the “thing” to go away.

But, it doesn’t. It remains and, perhaps, gets worse.

Even those of us who have lived with illness for a long time have felt the frustration of that new, “one more” thing. And we’ve hesitated to call in the complaint (such a troublesome word for describing our symptoms – we’re not really “complaining,” we’re “reporting!”)

Yet, we don’t do ourselves any favors by hesitating or waiting to call our doctors. As we develop good, working relationships with our docs and their staff, we should at least call in and explain the new “thing” so that a more objective pair of ears can hear and determine if it warrants further investigation. We are sometimes embarrassed that, when all is said, done, and tested, nothing untoward is found. But that’s no reason to think that we shouldn’t report the new “thing,” even if it, too, leads to an “all clear!”

In the coming summer months, many people will vacation, travel, and enjoy activiites outside a normal, calmer routine. It might be reasonable to feel more tired than usual, or have something else “off” crop up.  But, to be on the safer side, the time we take to check in with our docs could help us enjoy more and flare less!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

 

 

American Flag by Michael ElliottA very good Election Day to you! Have you voted? Will you vote? I hope so! Even if it takes some extra effort, exercising our right to vote is one of the most important activities we can engage in -yes, even if you feel that with your health challenges you are more marginalized than mainstream.

I realize that the physicality of voting can pose some issues. In many neighborhoods, polling place locations have changed or have been eliminated, requiring us to go farther to vote. One former polling place that I had to go to was not handicap-accessible (unless the person needing accommodation really pressed for assistance). The harsh fluorescents and hard floors might make for a painful wait to get a ballot and a voting booth. And once we’re in the booth, we might not have abundant enthusiasm for the particular people and things presented for us to vote for or against.

Yet, if we do not make the effort to vote, we are the ones marginalizing ourselves.  And if we do not participate in the process, we have no hope ever of bringing our particular needs and concerns to the forefront.

Absentee ballots are always an option for those who are home-bound or cannot take time to vote on Election Day.  Some communities have a public service of providing transportation for those whose mobility problems would otherwise prevent them from voting. Other areas allow voting on days other than the actual Election Day.

Others will not understand or see the extra effort we have to give to vote. But rest assured that what we do today does matter to us and our communities. The more we participate, the more voice we will have.

Joy and peace,

Maureen

Second close-up of pictureSometimes, faith and our spirituality can seem separated from the stark reality in our lives. We know we should (and do) pray, read Scripture, worship and seek fellowship, but then we go out into the “big, bad world,” and meet all manner of challenges (well, most of the challenges have no manners…but you understand what I mean!).

I think it’s helpful if we try to look at our faith from a different perspective every so often – a perspective of “applied faith.” This concept  is one I focus on in almost all of my writing – it’s how we bring Jesus into our work, play, relationships, and even our long, boring commute. It’s how we look at our world through the eyes of a Child of God (the Creator) and how we look inwardly and listen for the call of the Holy Spirit. If we do this consistently throughout the day, we start to develop a kind of beneficial detachment. Like a  moat that can protect us from temptations and other vices in the world, and make us steelier to withstand the prejudices and persecutions that people of faith may overtly or subtly endure, applied faith is a tool we have at our disposal anytime, anywhere. It is with us if we suffer from illness or are at the peak of health. It is with us whenever we encounter a challenge – and it gets us through that challenge with grace.

Think of applying your faith, like a bandage and a balm, the next time you encounter overt problems in your day.

It helps!

Peace,

Maureen

Second close-up of pictureSo, Memorial Day, I turned on my television intending to watch a bit of the Indianapolis 500 auto race. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to revisit something I remember our family having to avoid when I was young; if we visited relatives in Illinois over the weekend of Memorial Day, we had to leave at odd hours to “get past” Indianapolis in order to avoid the traffic caused by race day.

Today, well, was unexpected. When I turned on the television station that was supposed to air the race, I saw, instead, a “live” high-speed chase down one of the freeways very familiar to me in the Southern California are! The car was certainly not going as fast as one of the race cars on the Indy Speedway, but the action was compelling. And my mind turned to one of the parts of my new book, Don’t Panic!: How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough, which deals with deep breathing. When the unexpected happens, immediately take a deep breath. Or two or three, if you have the time. It helps stave off some of the nerves that occur at such times, and with calmer nerves, we can make better decisions.

I suspect several of the drivers on the freeway during the chase did not know about deep breathing. Or, if they did, they didn’t think to use it. Because as police with weapons drawn at the vehicle (which had run out of gas) waited for whatever was to come (the driver wasn’t budging from the driver’s seat), motorists on the other side of the freeway slowed down (to look?) and moved over to the lanes closest to the “action,” as if to be part of the scene!

A deep breath would have helped better thinking prevail…wish I could have distributed copies of my book!

Anyway, the departure from what I intended to see was an interesting lesson in humanity. When the unexpected happens, well, you just never know. But it helps to take a deep breath!

Peace,

Maureen

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