Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic illness and gardening: Learning to Grow

posted by mpratt

Decelles FlamingoI’ve heard it said that, “as we grow, we learn.” Well, I’m finding out things a bit differently: “As I learn, I grow.”

Lupus requires that I don’t spend a great deal of time outdoors, especially during the sunniest times of the day, so I have become quite fond of “gardening” indoors, raising African violets. As I’ve delved more into the particulars of these lovely plants, I’ve discovered many things that apply to my life with chronic illness and pain, too. Among them:

1) Plants will grow if given the right combination of light, water, and, occasionally, food. But to become truly lovely, from time to time, they will need to be shaped and pruned.

How like life that is!  What comes from our darkest moments, our most-pruned times, is often the greatest of blessings!

2) As plants age, they lose their baby leaves and smaller blossoms and, under the right conditions and with the right care, they mature into breathtaking beauty.

Once we accept our aging, and learn to “grow” into it, we just might look and act our very, very best!

3) The process of growing takes time, but is well worth it.

I constantly need to be reminded, “Patience, patient!” and tending to my African violets is perfect just for that!

4) The variety of African violets is astounding – yet each is love-ly in its own right.

Just like each of us, we are all so very different, but very much the same in our worthiness for God’s love.

5)  Flowers in bloom beg to be shared!

I’m always eager to share pictures or gift plants to people; sharing these treasures is part of the fun of growing. It is the same with the joy I feel in my faith – Light, God’s love, and all good things from Him are simply too wonderful not to share.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Coping with chronic illlness: Sorting it all out

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicLiving with chronic illness is hard, but sorting through all the symptoms to communicate with our doctors can be even tougher, sometimes. For example, perhaps you feel tired. Is it the same kind of tired as when your illness flares? Is it different from that, but sort of like when you’ve had too good a day the day before (and overdone “doing”?) Or, is it a completely different kind of fatigue, one you’ve never felt before?

It’s these and other situations that take time and perception to understand, but sometimes you don’t feel very patient or perceptive.  Over the years, I’ve developed a tremendous rapport with my doctors, and we “speak the same language” when it comes to understanding what’s going on at any given time. To get to this point, I have found several things to be very helpful in working with my docs to “sort it all out”:

1) Keeping a symptom log. This includes how you feel, what you’ve done that day, and what you’ve eaten or what meds you’ve taken. This way, you can look back and point to specific instances of when a symptom occurred, as well as the circumstances surrounding it. This is very helpful when, during a doctor’s visit, you talk through your pressing health issues.

2) Developing a “symptom thesaurus.” Learn to describe your symptoms as more than “tired,” “sore,” “in pain,” etc. Tap into your inner author and use analogies that better pinpoint exactly how your feel and what’s going on.

3) Quantify your symptoms, know the timeline. For how long did you feel [symptom]? How far did the pain extend along [position of pain]? How many [symptoms] did you have this week, month? Answers to these questions and other quantifiable questions are very, very helpful for your doctors.

4) Learn to listen through the pain. Sometimes, it’s hard to listen to what our doctors are saying when we’re in tremendous pain or frightened about our illness. Ak your doctor to help you listen and learn, requesting that he or she repeat what he/she is saying, or put it another way, so that you understand and can be a stronger partner in your care.

The better the working relationship between patient and doctor, and the more specific the communication between the two, the more effective any doc-patient work will be.  These suggestions above have helped me – Let me know what’s worked for you!

Blessings for the day!

Maureen

Chronic Pain: Many ways to say, “Hallelujah!”

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Michael Elliott/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes, praising God is tough. Physical pain can make it impossible to lift a limb, let alone raise hands to heaven. Emotions might be anything other than joy-filled. And spirits can sag, especially as life with chronic pain goes on and on and on and on…

Today, I was preparing for the music we’re going to sing in church on Sunday, and was struck by how many different songs there are with “Hallelujah!” (or, “alleluia”) in the title. “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus,” “Alleluia! Sing!”, “Hallelujah!”, “Alle, Alle, Alleluia,” and so on. Songs that are fast, slow, high, low – lots of variety there, too. Yes, very, very different, but among them all is a common thread, praise for our God.

Finding your way to say, “Hallelujah!” in the midst of pain is difficult sometimes, but it’s important to remember that there are myriad ways of doing it. And, there is no, one “right” way. You can blink your approval of the beauty of God’s earth – that’s an “Hallelujah!” You can whisper “Thank you, Lord,” for even the smallest blessing during the day – that’s an “Hallelujah!” And, you can raise your head and shout, if the spirit moves you to do so. Yes, that’s an “Hallelujah!” too!

Giving praise to God is one of the crucial duties of we people of faith. Yes, our God is worthy of praise. And, it doesn’t matter how we do it – the joy of it is, we find a way, no matter what!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Living with chronic illness: How do you respond to the world?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of J Frasse/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of J Frasse/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No doubt about it, there are lots of problems in our world. Close to home and far away, the news of the day is full of strife, violence, awful issues, and injustices.

But even closer to home is your and my life with chronic illness, a war of its own, and, many times, full of trouble.

How much “news of the day” do we need to be aware of, given we’re already juggling serious issues of our own? And, if we do tune in to radio, television or print news, how do we respond to it? filter it? let is sink into our hearts and weigh us down more than we already are?

Enter the ostrich.

It would be tempting to do as these large, flightless birds do – that is, bury our heads, ears, and eyes in the sand of our closely-held lives. No stories of humans’ injustices to other humans, or of humans’ violence or neglect toward the world. Taking away the “noise” of discord might bring some peace to our troubled lives, or even comfort…And yet, I don’t think we can forever close out what’s going on beyond the walls of our heart and home.

Some news, after all, is instructional for us. We still need to be aware of the latest in healthcare and insurance issues, economic tips and trends. What goes on in our communities and neighborhoods does affect us, so it’s important to know at least the bare facts. And, even if we are confined to our homes and cannot move about in the world, we can hear of the needs present and lift them up in prayer.

What we do have to be mindful of, as we keep current, is how the news, especially the bad news, affects our hearts. We’re weighed down enough with health issues, we need to be aware of how we bring on extra stress and learn to keep it at bay.

I try to time my exposure to the hard news of the day, limiting my tv and radio time to certain programs or snippets of them.  As for “pop culture,” well, I limit my viewing and listening time there, too. Frivilous news can take a back seat to something more worthwhile or truly humorous. In conversations, if someone with whom I’m talking starts to get too negative or drone on about this or that world issue, I have no problem saying, “I’m not going to talk about this today,” or “Please, let’s talk about things other than the problems in our world.” Friends and family who care truly do understand.

We don’t have to be like the ostrich, but a little rebalancing of our exposure to news and other world issues can help us balance our need to know with our need for peace!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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