Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Stress buster: Tips for those long waits in doctors’ offices

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicOooh, they’re getting longer, not shorter, those waits in doctors’ offices. And, if you’ve exhausted all those rat-eared magazines and examined drab artwork long enough, you’re probably feeling impatient, patient. Edgy, perhaps. Or, even angry.

But, wait! (as if you want to do more of this…)

The more impatient, angry, and irritated you become, the more stress you’re bringing upon yourself. And, we all know what stress can do to us and our chronic illnesses and pain, and it’s nothing good.

So, here’s what I do when the minutes drag into hours:

1) I walk.  Yup, sitting for hours defeats the purpose of trying to stay in shape. If I know I’ll be last in a long string of patients, I punctuate my sitting time with walking, even pacing a little.

2) I work a puzzle…or five. During my “non-doctor days,” I save crossword puzzles from my newspaper. On appointment days, I grab a stack of them and dive in while I’m waiting. Keeps my mind from turning to mush under those oh-so-glaring fluorescents.

3) I make lists. For a person with intermittent, lupus-induced brain fog, lists are a must. As I wait, I refresh my memory about the lists I’ve made and begin new ones. Just the feeling of being organized helps with a better sense of control over a life that has so many parts that are not within my control.

4) I read Scripture and pray. A doctor’s office is a perfect place to talk with God – and a good place, too, to read an reread passages from Scripture. I especially like to choose uplifting passages that will enhance my sense of calm and defuse the irritation that comes with waiting.

Some people I know also take their iPads or tablets and watch their favorite comedies or read from a selection of ebooks. Whatever the activity, make it positive, something that helps you either physically, life-style-wise or spiritually. The time won’t seem as long, and you’ll come away with at least a part of your day in the “good” column!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Wisdom from Romans

posted by mpratt

Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

—Romans 12:2

Maureen Pratt Author PicSometimes, don’t you just feel like numbers on a lab report or a pin cushion? Ever pointed this out to the medical pros? Ever tried?

Once, not long ago, I had such a terribly inhumane experience at a “world-class” medical establishment that I wrote a lengthy letter to the chief of the department. My experience lasted hours, however there was not even a water cooler or water bottle to bring relief. The lights were harsh in the waiting room, the chairs a nightmare to sit in. And the waiting. It seemed endless.  Worse, the staff, well, they’d clearly had more than a bad day.

Surprisingly, I received a very nice reply from the chair, who addressed my concerns and said that change was on the way. And, indeed, the next time I went there, there was a little water station with cups at the ready, and the whole process flowed much better. A small victory, perhaps, but a victory nonetheless.

This reading from Romans really strikes me at a time when, more and more, much of the practice of medicine is rushed, cramped, and increasingly reliant upon science to the exclusion of the human elements, especially faith and spirit. If we “conform to this age” in healthcare, we risk contributing to the overall sterile environment that’s growing. But if we refuse to “conform,” that is, we stand up as human beings and, gently but firmly, point out what’s wrong and how it could be better, at least from a patient-at-an-appointment perspective, we just might make the situation better for all concerned.

The chief to whom I wrote thanked me for taking the time to write, constructively, and expressed great appreciation. I appreciated his appreciation – and more, I felt as if I had, perhaps, helped other who came after me.

We are more than our lab tests. Who knows what wonderful things can happen if we take God with us, even into those cramped, exhausting medical offices and exam rooms, and find His wisdom to express our beautiful and worthy humanity?

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Living Lupus: Summer in the Sun (Not!)

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Pat138241/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pat138241/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the things that can be very damaging to lupus patients is something that many people are already enjoying to the hilt in the early summertime: Basking in the glow and warmth of the sun.

Unfortunately for many of us lupies, the rays of the sun (UVB, UVA) can cause the disease to become active, triggering autoimmune responses in the skin and other, internal organs.  Individuals who have lupus should discuss sun exposure and its consequences with their doctors; each lupus patient is, after all, different. But here are some things that I do that have helped me “have a life” while taking precautions to avoid sun exposure:

I’ve adapted many activities to indoors and hours when the sun is not high (or out). Museums, malls, and movie theaters are great places to enjoy with friends – and they’re indoors.

Long sleeves, pants, and wide-brimmed hats are musts when I go outside during the day. I also wear strong sunglasses and sunblock.

Friends and family members understand my need to avoid the sun, and are very accommodating, which is a blessing!

Above all, I don’t dwell on what I cannot do and emphasize, instead, health and doing all that I can to prevent lupus from flaring horribly because of sun exposure.

If you have lupus, I hope you’ll be able to work with your medical team and loved ones to find the summertime balance that’s healthful and right for you. Stay hopeful and you’ll shine! :)

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Illness: Developing a Fighting Spirit

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicOh, my word, another diagnosis. Just when I thought I’d “collected the whole set” of lupus-related, autoimmune illnesses, I’ve been given another. And with it is another medication, monitoring by another specialist, and all the other things that go with it. More about the diagnosis later. In this blog, I wanted to give a few thoughts about developing a fighting spirit that does not take away from faith, joy, and having a life that contains positive and nurturing elements.

I’ve always been a fighter against the constraints imposed by lupus. Not that I try to ignore them or throw them to the wind. Rather, I try to be creative, still intent upon doing the things I like to do, albeit in a different way. “Fighting,” in this sense, does not mean “getting angry with,” but acknowledging whatever health challenge has arisen, and then moving toward the “what do I do now, medically, personally, spiritually?”

My fight always includes God. I don’t see Him as an adversary, but someone right alongside me as I move ahead. The same with my friends and family members with whom I am close (and my doctors). Drawing on their encouragement, support, humor, and knowledge is essential to avoid being a victim of a new or ongoing health situation.

Planning concretely is another good way to meet the challenge of health problems. Make and keep those doctors’ appointments, learn as much as possible, formulate a plan with the medical team, find positive ways to cope.

With these and other steps that take me from a position of “Oh, really?” to “Okay, now what do I do?” I can develop and nurture a fighting spirit within the context of faith and light, building strength all the way forward.

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