Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Feeling Like a Failure?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At some point in a life with chronic illness and pain, we feel as if we’ve failed. Failed at keeping healthier. Failed at following doctor’s orders. Failed at relationships. Failed at life. No matter how many reassurances we get from friends and family, and no matter how much we tell ourselves that there are “extenuating circumstances,” the sharp stab of inadequacy can really hit us, and hit us hard.

I suppose this difficult feeling of being a failure is part of life, especially part of a life fraught with health problems. But that doesn’t make it any easier. And as we go along through more years of illness and pain, the burdens seem all that much more heavy upon our fragile shoulders.

If you’ve read even a smattering of my blogs, here, you know that I fully acknowledge there are “good days” and “bad days” with illness. I hope you also realize that my faith transcends these two categories of describing daily life with lupus, etc. – I don’t believe the bad days, especially, are brought from God to punish or chide or even necessarily challenge. For me, it’s just very simple: there are good days and bad days for us all, and the point is not so much that we rest in them, but it is what we do with them that matters.

So, on those bad days, when we are tempted to chide ourselves and slap the “failure” label all over ourselves, I have to apply the same way of thinking. That is, we are human and life with chronic illnesses and pain is not a linear proposition. We will triumph (“good days”), but we will also stumble (“bad days”). We will sail through some storms, and feel pummeled in others. But, as long as we believe that God loves us, cares for us, and forgives us completely, how can we believe we are failures?

Sometimes, we might feel as if we’ve failed. But, at those times, if we focus instead on God’s goodness and the hand He extends to lift us up, that feeling of failure will dissipate into His unconditional love, giving us renewed strength for the next leg of our journey.

Blessings for the day,
Maureen

 

Seeking a Mentor

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicWhen I was first diagnosed with lupus, I asked my doctor if she thought that joining a support group would be a good idea for me. She hesitated, then said, “No. There will be people who are depressed, negative, and very, very ill. You don’t need that kind of atmosphere.”

I was surprised. From what I had heard prior to my diagnosis, patient support groups were good places, where people could seek support, encouragement, and information.

A few weeks later, with my flare raging and all sorts of emotions and questions swirling in my head and heart, I located a support group for lupus patients and went, a little scared, to a meeting tucked in a community room at a local mall. There were two patients who were negative, angry, and who painted an awful picture of my future life with lupus. But, there was also the group leader – a positive, gentle, encouraging woman who had battled many awful flares, but whose spirit had not suffered. She took me under her wing, and we’ve been friends ever since. Most special, she has been a tremendous mentor as my life with the disease has unfurled.

Distinctive from being merely a friend, a mentor is, ideally, someone with more experience, cultivated wisdom, and the desire to assist others who are not quite as far along in their health journeys.  He or she is the person to whom you can go with the “what do I do now?” or “how do I sort this out?” questions that inevitably arise.  A mentor is a marvel! And a true treasure.

I’m glad that I went to that support group. I totally understand what my doctor meant by discouraging me from going, but if I hadn’t made the effort, I would not have found the mentor who’s been so very, very wonderful.

Whatever stage of your health-challenged journey, keep your eyes open for that special person who has been where you are, understands, and is willing and eager to give you just the inspiration – of a human kind – that you need. You’ll be so glad you did!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Alzheimer’s disease caregivers: What not to assume

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of worradmu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of worradmu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I  mentioned in a previous post, I am going to focus  this Alzheimer’s disease Awareness and Education Month on the role and work of the caregiver.  These amazing men and women (and some younger people) are in the trenches daily, nightly, and they give of their hearts so much that they often don’t think about themselves – or take care of themselves, either. You might be in awe of the neighbor, family member, or coworker whose loved one has Alzheimer’s and still lives at home. And you might be tempted to assume that, because they don’t reach out for help, they don’t need any assistance. But that might not be the case. Here’s why:

Some caregivers, especially if they are taking care of a family member, might think that others outside the family do not want to have anything to do with helping in a tangible way.

Others might be so new to the world of Alzheimer’s that they simply do not know what to ask for.

Caregivers might feel as if they’ll lose friends if they “talk too much” about the struggle they are going through.

Or, they might be so tired by the end of long, hard days that they are simply too exhausted to make one more phone call or initiate one more conversation.

So, how should you, as a friend who cares about the caregiver, proceed?

Ask.

And if the caregiver says, “Oh, there’s nothing you can really do for me,” ask again. Show that your interest in giving assistance, even if it is sitting with the person with Alzheimer’s while the caregiver has a short nap, is genuine and not perfunctory. Truly, even on the broadest of shoulders, the burden of caring for someone with ALZ can be overwheming.

Your question, “What can I do to help,” asked one more time, can make all the difference in bolstering the spirits and strength of yet another, amazing caregiver!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

How do you grow a good life?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicSo often, I hear people who have chronic illness say, “I want a life!” or “I don’t even have a life!”

I understand what they mean. All of us experience that wrenching away from what we have enjoyed or found comfort in. Cherished activities, relationships, meaningful work. And it can be really tough to see anything as good in the future, especially life in general, one’s own life in particular.

But do we really “have” a life? Even if we are in good health? Or, would it help to look at life a little differently?

As a writer, I know that none of my work, be it articles, books, or this blog, will get written unless I put the pieces together one word at a time. In this sense, I don’t “have” a written product at all, but rather I “grow” it from all of the pieces that I bring together in it. Words, yes, and thought, perspective, information – there are all sorts of “seeds” that I plant on the page in order to have, one day, a fully-grown authored work.

So it is, I have found, with life with chronic illness and pain. There’s nothing easy about these days and nights when health concerns are foremost, seeming to hold us back and down from what we really want to have and do. But, if we look at our lives as works-in-progress where we “seed” our time with good things, we can see that, in order to enjoy a good life, one that brings at least some satisfaction, light, and joy, we need to work at it seed-by-seed.

The things we do today will impact how well we are able to cope, relate, and benefit from the good seeds we’ve planted.   A grand thought to take to heart, especially as so much of the rest of our lives is out of our control, as it is with chronic illness.

Wonderful friendships aren’t “had” as if they can be bought off the shelf. Fitness, education, faith, the very essence of who we are as God’s children – each of these, too, is built, grown, and strengthened by each step we take.

How do we grow good lives?

One blessed seed at a time!

Blessings for the day,
Maureen

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