Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

TLC Tuesday: Look for Light

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of bigjom/

Image courtesy of bigjom/

“One more doctor visit” bringing you down?

Last week, I had two doc visits in one day, both of which were delayed and difficult. But, at the second one, a “God thing” happened -

An older woman, using a walker, sat down beside me in the waiting room. She was carefully and nicely dressed, but clearly worn and tired. After a few moments, she asked me,

“Have you been waiting long?”

“About forty-five minutes.”

She grimaced. “When was your appointment?

I sighed. “Forty-five minutes ago. The doctor is running late.”

The woman grimaced again, rearranged herself in the chair, and started to talk about how “This isn’t right.” “No doctor should make you wait that long.” “I can’t believe this…”

I was not thrilled with waiting, either, but complaining was not bound to speed things up. How to turn this situation around?

I prayed up. And looked down.

First, at my blue and white slip-on shoes. And then at my neighbors…very same, blue and white slip-on shoes!

I caught her eye. I smiled. I pointed down at her feet. She looked down, her grimace turning to a puzzled look. I pointed at my feet. She looked.

And she recognized the shoes and broke into a big grin.

“At least we both have excellent taste,” I said, smiling.

“Why, yes. Yes we do.”

And we began to talk about how comfortable the shoes are and other things – lighter and of light.

When the nurse called me into the inner office, my neighbor, still smiling, said, “God bless you.”

Today, TLC Tuesday, look for even the slimmest glimmer of light in a dark place. Fan that flame into true Light, until even the darkness cannot compete!

Blessings for the day,


Chronic Illness: When Everyone Has Their Own Ideas

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Ambro/

Image courtesy of Ambro/

Don’t you just know, one person’s rheumatoid arthritis is another’s “Oh, it’s just aches and pains?” Or, one person’s propensity to infection is another’s “Don’t worry, I only have a little cold, you can be around me.” Or, one person’s furry pet allergies is another’s, “Oh, really, no one’s every complained about Fifi or Fido before!”

Back when my high school class went on its class trip, my two roommates wanted to smoke in our hotel room. They knew that I had severe asthma, but, they thought, it would surely be all right for them to smoke if they brought along powerful disinfecting spray and used that to “cover up” the smoke! Oh, not so very, very much!

Yes, often, no matter how well we explain to other people what our situation is and what our restrictions and “special needs” are, others have their own – and very often downright uninformed, silly (or stupid) ideas.

What to do…what to do…

First, of course, we have to do what’s healthful for us. If we have to explain, again, we do that. If we have to leave the situation, well, we do that, too. (In high school, I asked for and was given another room.) Yes, it might create a “kerfluffle,” but, well, that’s life with chronic illness.

Second, well, we have to keep in mind that, although we know what’s going on with us health-wise, most people are just not “in the trenches” like we are. Try explaining lupus to someone who has no experience with it, and watch carefully for the eyes glazing over and confusion to set in. So, to a great extent, “spreading the word” wisely and well is, yes, up to us. How we communicate – and when and to whom – can make a huge difference in helping others understand and act appropriately.

Third, even if you are patient, kind, and very articulate, be prepared for someone to be offended. Fifi or Fido’s owner might still harbor the grudge against you if you hesitate to coo over his or her beloved pets. The cold-carrier might still think you are being anti-social for not coming close. And those high school classmates might, well, never “get it.”

But you? Hang tough, brother and sister. Keep the faith – and stay your course!

Blessings for the day,


Chronic Pain: How Can You Feel Like You Belong?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicLoneliness is one of the hardest things to conquer for many people living with chronic pain. But sometimes, it is not so much the feeling of being alone as it is the feeling of not belonging – belonging to a group, family, church, or workplace team.

When we struggle with ongoing and often severe pain, we sometimes compartmentalize our thoughts and feelings, perhaps fearful that, if we fully realized all that the pain is, we might completely fall apart. So, we push the pain back, into the farthest corner or our minds. Or, we put on a “happy face,” and assure others around us that, “No, I’m fine, really,” when, in fact, we’re not.  This kind of thinking, over time can make us even more isolated, as if we’re being “false” to our situation and, thus, to others. And this, in turn, can distance us even more from those around us and from the very groups to which we do, indeed, belong. Of course, physical barriers to belonging can exist, too, as impediments to participation.

So, how can people with chronic pain feel more like they belong and, thus, be able to benefit from compassion and companionship – and contribute their own gifts, too?

It’s very important to communicate to people what your particular limitations are and, often, your fears about belonging with a group, familial or otherwise. If mobility is a problem, explain what accommodations can make your involvement easier. If timing is an issue (for example, travel over the holidays to join family members), get creative with other ways of participating or scheduling events.

I’ve found that, if I’m overwhelmed by a large group or a big, new “world,” I try to focus in on one instead of many. Meet one  new person, find out one new thing, make one, even small, contribution. If it’s a Web-based group, with multiple topics shooting back and forth among the members, focus on one topic instead of all, and try to have a meaningful interchange with that subject alone.

If my attempts to contribute and feel a sense of belonging and acceptance seem not to take root, well, I usually conclude that the group/activity/place is probably not my cup of tea. Yup, sometimes, you have to close one door to open another – and really walk into a welcome!

Everyone, to some extent, wishes to belong to something, whether it is a social group, a more formally organized group, or even a neighborhood or home-based structure. For those of us with chronic pain, creating that sense of belonging can be difficult, but by no means impossible – if we take the initiative, one step and one person at a time.

Blessings for the day,


Chronic Illness: Worship and Contagion

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicMy immune system is, once again, in overdrive and making new and serious antibodies, among them to my retinas. I’ve had to begin a more aggressive form of treatment, and it will make me more susceptible to infection. As a lupus patient, I am usually much more conscious of avoiding infections than, perhaps, more healthy people are. But this new medication poses more potential problems, which are requiring creative thinking and adapting.

Of course, being out in crowds, especially during flu season, is something I don’t do much of. Movie-going? Hmm…popcorn at home. Shopping? Off- off-hours. Church? Ooh, this one can be difficult, but I’m finding a way…

It would be part true but also part irresponsible to say that you can never get sick from others at church. True, God blesses us abundantly when we worship as a community, and the outpouring of support and positive love from our fellow believers is powerful spiritual and emotional medicine! But whether at church or the grocery store, one person’s hacking, germ-laden cough is a lupus patient’s nightmare!

With my new course of medication, I’ve alerted everyone I’m close to at church about how I must stay away from close contact. I’ve explained that, if someone close to me is ill, I have to remove myself. I’ve also asked for an accommodation so that I can receive Holy Communion more safely (even if Eucharistic ministers use hand sanitizer before distributing Holy Communion, someone along the line of Communion-goers could always pass along one of those dreaded bugs) . My pastor provided me with a pyx and a supply of unconsecrated hosts. Before mass, I put one of the hosts in the pyx, which looks much like a round pill box, and give it to the celebrant. The host inside the pyx is consecrated with the rest of the hosts and then handed to me, unopened, at communion. I use a sanitizing wipe on the pyx, open it, and take the host from it myself.

Sometimes, we don’t think about asking for accommodation at our churches. But our brothers and sisters in faith are only too willing to help us cope with whatever health challenges we face – if we only ask!

Blessings for the day,


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