Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Image courtesy of MaggieSmith/

Image courtesy of MaggieSmith/

On this Labor Day, I’d like to lift up heartfelt thanks to all the healthcare workers who give their knowledge, time, and care to help me and many others who live with complicated, often frustrating, and ongoing health issues. I know how hard it is to have an illness (more than one, actually) that cannot be cured, and I expect your emotions mirror mine many times when meds don’t work (or work in unexpectedly bad ways), flares bring new and confounding symptoms, and pain makes me less than an easy person to speak with! At those times, I appreciate your patience with this patient – and your wililngness to suggest one more thing, try one more thing, or do extra research into this or that other possibility.

If you, dear healthcare worker, are taking today off, I pray you get much rest and enjoyment out of your deserved time off.

If you are working today, know that I’m praying it will be an easy time, and that, even on the job, you’ll find refreshment and renewal.

Yes, you are appreciated! Happy Labor Day!


Image courtesy of Pixomar/

Image courtesy of Pixomar/

My much-used and appreciated tablet died yesterday. Or, at least, it seemed to die. One second, I was opening an app, the next, the screen went black, and I couldn’t get in or out of anything, tablet, app, or otherwise.

Of course, my first reaction was, “Oh, no! I’ll have to get another tablet!” This conjured up thoughts (and fears) of having to upgrade my ‘tablet experience,’ reload apps and data, and figure out what books belonged where. Sigh!

But then, I wondered, “Is it really dead? Or, did I accidentally do something to make it ‘sleep?'”

I decided to seek a second opinion. So, today, I toted the tablet down to the wise young men at the Samsung store.

“Can you help me?” I asked. “I think my tablet’s dead, but I’m not sure.”

One of the wise workers looked, looked again, put a finger on the power button, held it there for quite awhile, then set the table down on the desk. In a flash, the screen lit up and the familiar boot graphics appeared!

“It’s alive!” I cried (well, said, joyfully).  “What was wrong with it?”

“Could be the app you tried to open is corrupted and it locked up the tablet. If this happens, hold the power button down for several seconds. This drains the power and reboots the tablet operating system.”

Very happy, I thanked the young man profusely, popped my tablet into my purse and hurried home.

Home…Where it dawned on me that life with chronic pain is much like what I just went through with my tablet.  I’ve just been through a very painful period, especially with neck and back spasms and arthritis. It’s been so very painful that I’ve felt zapped of energy, drive and, yes, power. But this turned out to be a good thing because in this instance, I took my own oft-repeated advice that, “When you feel most burdened with chronic pain, sometimes the best thing you can do is resolve to rest until you can ‘reboot’ your tired self.”

This is exactly what I did over the past few days – gently going through exercises and range of motion to encourage movement, but also encourage destressing. And, it worked! Like my tablet, which had been victim of a terrible app, my body responded well to a period of rest and a reboot.

And, now, we’re both humming along once again!




Image courtesy of voraorn/

Image courtesy of voraorn/

resisted the recent spate of “Christmas in July” store and on-line promotions, but there is no doubt that time is flying by and it will soon be holiday season. We each probably have more than one person on our holiday list who is difficult to shop for. The person who has everything. The person who says, “I don’t need anything.”

The person with a chronic illness.

Ah, he or she can be extremely difficult, not because of pickiness or requests that go far beyond our budget or other resources. No, the difficulty tends to be more sensitive than that and goes beyond the typical, “You should get someone a gift that you yourself would want to have.”

A person with a chronic illness might have limitations on his or her diet, lifestyle, mobility, or other aspect and we might hesitate to give “regular” gifts because we simply don’t know what he or she can truly enjoy and/or use.

Some gifts might strike emotional chords that cause dissonance rather than celestial music. A nicely framed picture of a pleasant shared outing in the past might stir up memories that are difficult to reconcile with the way a chronic illness patient’s life has “turned out” because of health challenges.

Little doodads and knick-knacks are well-meaning, but might only clutter limited space and serve no real purpose and/or convey no real sense of understanding current needs and feelings.

So, how do you know what to give?

Here are some ideas:

Offer your time. Especially if someone is mobility impaired or has difficulty hearing or seeing, an offer of time and assistance can be very welcome! Think of couching your gift of time in a pretty card or fashion your own “gift certificate” to be “redeemed” when the person especially  needs your help.

Make a donation. Give a charitable contribution to the particular organization that is championing your ill loved one’s health cause. Ask the patient what group or organization will make the most of your contribution.

Appeal to the funny bone. When we truly know someone, we get to know the sense of humor that he or she thrives on – and derives much support and light when times are tough. Appeal to your loved one’s funny bone – and give the gift of blessed laughter.

Ask. People with special health needs know what they need and your loved one probably has a “wish list” of things that would make his or her life easier, or at least a bit more comfortable. Don’t hesitate to ask what would be an appropriate gift, and stick to that list as you go shopping.

Above all, give your love. Listen to your friend or family member who struggles with health. Be willing to be the shoulder for crying on – and the partner in praise!

Happy holidays!


Image Courtesy of graur codrin/

Image Courtesy of graur codrin/

Pope Francis has announced today, September 1, as the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,” and by doing so has highlighted one of the most important issues of our time and for time to come. Truly, the more seriously we take our stewardship of this world and the people and all other beings that dwell upon it, the better our present and future will be – and the more reflective of God’s love.

There are many ways to pray. Set prayers, of course, that have already been written, and prayers stemming from the words in our hearts and on our lips. But even more crucial are the prayers we “utter” through our actions. That is the focus I will strive to have today, and I encourage others to do so, too. Each step we take to “care for creation,” each action that respects life, cherishes God’s world, and forwards goodness and tender reverence for His creation is a mighty powerful prayer!