Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Moore, Oklahoma, and Beyond

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicAs many of us watched in real-time as the two-mile-wide behemoth of a tornado bore down on Moore, Oklahoma, yesterday, I was reminded of another night many years ago when I, a small child, my brother and parents hunkered down in our basement as two tornadoes hit our neighborhood within 5 minutes of each other. There were no warning sirens, then; my mother had felt the wind pressing against the wall of the bedroom, and suspected something was about to happen.

I remember being awakened from sleep by my mother who scooped me up and hurried me downstairs. I remember the roaring sound and odd way the air pressure seemed to fluctuate as the storms neared. No rain, at first, but after the double hit, it started, and my parents baled out the basement bucket by bucket as my brother and I sat together in the dry part of the room.

The next day, the sun shone brilliantly on a neighborhood pock-marked by destruction. Across the street from us, all that was left of one house was the chimney. Next to it, another house sat, unscathed. We’d lost shingles, but not much else. Our neighbors said they’d looked outside and seen one of the tornadoes hover over our house, and then move on. Many others were not so fortunate; we walked around the block and saw building after building either destroyed or half-so.

As I think about the children caught up in the massive twister that ravaged Moore, I pray for them, their families, and those who lost loved ones. Even with the distance of seeing the scenes unfold on television instead, it is an excruciatingly painful scene. Yet, I also want to offer some words of hope.

I can look back on my experience weathering a tornado as a child, and I can say that, although I do have memories, I carry no scars. True, our house was spared. But it was what happened beyond that night that made the difference, I think. First, there was the knowledge of being protected by my parents. Second, there was the coming together of the community in the aftermath, the support, and the strength. Third, and not lastly, there was faith that carried on in the days and weeks afterward.

The tragedy of Moore, like Joplin, and other areas hit by natural disaster, is not to be taken lightly. The losses of life (and young life, in particular) are going to be felt for years to come.  Yes, there will be much mourning. But what I remember from my childhood experience was the loss seen in sunlight and the work that commenced to rebuild.  Nothing can change what has happened. But everyone can have a hand in the positive things that shall come.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Chronic Illness: What Do You Do with the Fatigue?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicPremission to sleep!

Chronic illness, whether lupus, fibromyalgia, MS, or another culprit, can bring on fatigue. Not just the “normal” kind brought on by a busy night or day, or strenuous exercise. No, our fatigue is usually called “unrestorative,” that is, no matter how much we sleep, we awaken tired. Sometimes, we’re even too tired to sleep!

There are, of course, good days and bad days. When a disease is flaring, fatigue can be horrible, when it is not, the feeling of being tired might be more manageable. But, many of us life our lives, more or less, in a constant state of fatigue.

So, what do we do?

We need to talk with our doctors about our fatigue, of course, to see if there are other, underlying reasons for it (thyroid, depression, etc.) But if the fatigue is due to a flare or “just lupus,” for example, well, one of my very wise doctors once told me once that the fatigue was my body’s way of saying, “I need rest.” It was and is all part of having lupus, and this, she reminded me, “Gives you permission to nap. Permission to sleep.”

Oh, my! What a difference that made in my perception that, by sleeping or napping or resting, I was not “giving in” to sloth, I was not weak, and I was not lazy. I have an illness, the illness brings on fatigue, I need to address the fatigue!

Permission to sleep!

If you read my blog frequently, you know one of my imperatives is that we can help ourselves by being kind to ourselves. Just think about how anything or anyone in your life responds to kindness and care – the garden you tend, the pet you pamper, the loved one you do little things for. Well, it’s the same with ourselves. We can blossom best when we are kind to ourselves. Even to acknowledging and addressing how fatigued we feel.

So, what do I do with the fatigue? I understand it. I recognize it (and the level of it). And I try to allow myself the permission to rest, to allow my body to relax. Ah! What a difference that has made!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Lupus: Coping Skill # 3

posted by mpratt

The human spirit can endure a sick body,

but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed?

                 Proverbs 18:14, New Living Translation

Maureen Pratt Author PicThese few words from Proverbs say it all about the importance of a strong spirit when faced with any kind of illness or pain. We can see all the doctors in the world, and seek all the newest or oldest of medical treatments. But under the weight of illness and through the challenge of pain, if our spirits are not strong, we will not “bear it” and be the people that we are capable of being.

A strong spirit is the difference between someone who says, “I can’t,” and someone who says, “I will.” It is the underpinning of the will that enables a young mother  to get up each day and nurture her children, even as she has serious lupus. A spirit that is strong can enable each of us to face an unknown future with great courage, and to let go of the past in order to move ahead.

A strong spirit is the stuff that fills us when we are most empty, and gives us the iron core  of resolve when everything around us seems to be falling apart.

Yet, for all of its importance, I still encounter resistance when it comes to speaking with patient organizations or others involved with “the cause.” Perhaps this is because of the misperception that spirituality and medical conditions have nothing to do with one another. Or, perhaps this is because the invdividuals expressing skepticism or prejudice are unsure within themselves of the state of their own spirituality.

By the time someone has received the diagnosis and learned about it (Coping Skill # 1: Education), and put his or her life and medical records in order (Coping Skill # 2: Organization), he or she usually experiences that ton-of-bricks moment when a greater realization hits, the knowledge inside and out that life will be forever changed and often in difficult and painful ways. No amount of doctors’ appointments or lab tests can dampen the way this realization can instill great fear and uncertainty. But it is exactly at this time when spiritual strength comes front and center.

Coping Skill # 3: Spiritual Strength.

The more we take steps to strengthen our spirits each day, to deepen prayer, to broaden our relationship with God, the  better off we will be, on good days and on bad days.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

 

Struggling to Have a Good Day?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicEverybody’s happy! Everybody’s active! Everybody’s…NOT!

When you don’t feel well, the struggle to make something, anything, good of a day can be exhausting and frustrating and, well, quite frankly, impossible. And yet, between those who say, “You have to have a positive attitude,” and those who declare, “It’s all in your mind,” you might feel as if the inability to lift your mood and get on with life in an uplifting manner is a huge failure on your part. And that feeling of unworthiness might sink you even lower.

Yes, the struggle to have a good day can be frightfully challenging and, I dare to posit, completely unproductive.

There will be days that just start off wrong and go downhill from there. There will be days when, despite our best efforts, we bungle the simplest of things and can’t even begin with the more complex tasks.

There are some days when stepping outside takes a herculean effort that saps us of all other energy.

As one who’s fought the very good fight for years, I have learned more than once that struggling through a day when pain is high and illness is flaring can bring more pain and certainly more frustration. So, I try to remember, on a bad day, sometimes the best thing is just to relax and let it unfold. Rest and let laundry or errands wait another day. Take care so that we may prepare for a better day tomorrow or the next.

Being kind to ourselves is not advertised or studied as a remedy for the illnesses and pain we suffer. But it is important; if we are not kind to ourselves, who else will be? And if we don’t allow our bodies and our spirits to retreat and revive on a “bad day,” when will they?

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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