Beliefnet
Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Second close-up of pictureIt might be the sick child who lets loose a massive sneeze, uncovered, in a crowded elevator or a physician who is sick him- or herself and still sees patients —  one thing that truly irks me is someone who will go out among others when they are contagiously sick.  Believe me, there’s no “glory” or “guts” in tanking up on medicine and going forth. Rather, there’s the likelihood that others will contract whatever it is the sickie has, and so the cycle will go on, perhaps with dire consequences.

Once, I remember one of my eye doctors entered the examination room with a surgical mask on. “I’m just a little sick,” she told me. And because I was a newbie to the lupus-patient-protect-thyself world, I didn’t quarrel with her…until a couple of days later when my fever spiked to 102 and I ended up with a massive case of “a little sick” myself. Masks, hand sanitizers, coughs into the fabric of a shirt are all “well” and good – until they’re not, and others suffe for it.

The person who is ill might not think that there are immune-suppressed people among the strangers walking up and down the grocery store aisles or waiting in line for prescriptions (don’t we all just look so healthy?!),  but he or she who thinks this is wrong. Wrong! And even as they might recover quickly, others of us will be getting much sicker for a much longer period of time. Or, worse, might go from a “common” infection to something requiring hospitalization. In the spirit of giving a gift you would like yourself, abundant, loving presents these are not.

We’re approaching flu season, which is always a cautionary time for those of us with chronic, serious health conditions. I supppose that’s why I’m writing with such dogged intent: Please! If you are sick, before you think of yourself and all that you “must” do, think of others who are less healthy than you are. Think of the pregant women whose discomfort is amplified many times over if they get a “simple cold” or other illness while carrying their beloved baby. Think of the elderly for whom a sniffle can turn into a hospitalization in a heartbeat. Finally, think of how great a gift you are giving to society if you do stay away from others when you’re contagious. If you don’t pass along your illness to someone else, you don’t extend the “life” of the bugs. And a shorter cold and flu season is sure cause to celebrate!

Yesterday, at a store, my cashier asked a co-worker several feet away, “Are you sick?” He replied,” If I were sick, I wouldn’t be here.” She shrugged and said, “Well, if I were sick, I’d be here. I need the money.”

Oh, my, really? Please – we who would come in contact with you really don’t need the germs!

Peace,

Maureen

ImageCourtesyofzole4/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ImageCourtesyofzole4/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m sorry I missed them: August 20 was National Honey Bee Day, and August 21 was National Senior Citizens Day. But I thought I’d make up for my omission by reflecting on something that seems to unite those two:  Rare beauty.

We’ve read about the plight of honey bee colonies. How something seems to be decimating their colonies and, because of this, how pollination is in peril.  Honey bees might be small, but they do a mighty job! The same is true of many senior citizens I know. No matter their aches, pains, and age-related foibles, these older people are sometimes more youthful than the youth I know, and certainly as busy. But they, too, are becoming rare, not so much because they are dying off (although there is that, too).

No, too often, people discount what senior citizens are capable of doing. Or, they are moving too quickly to stop and learn that someone whose body is aging might just be able to contribute a thing or two to the common dialogue – and that thing or two will be laced with wisdom, wit, and grace.

Honey bees seem to flit from flower to flower. Never still. Always moving. But in their movement, they have a purpose, a job to be done. Watch one closely and you’ll see that it’s not just moving, but carrying out a profound task. One that I, who uses honey in my tea, personally appreciate.

The same holds for the seniors in our midst. You might look upon them as they move more slowly up a set of stairs of down a store aisle and think that they are not doing much of import at all. And you’d be wrong. For, despite all that weighs them down relatead to aging, they are living and moving and making themselves part of society. Think about that next time you’re too tired to lift a finger. I know I will!

So, although I missed National Honey Bee Day, I certainly give kudos to the tiny, buzzing creature that’s ever-moving and alive. And as for National Senior Citizens Day, well, why just a day? Why not a year? Why not all the time? Because, yes, theirs is still a vital contribution and an inspiration that has no cut-off time.

Peace,

Maureen

 

Second close-up of pictureI don’t know anyone who likes their constant life with pain. Given a choice, I’m sure most of us (if not all) would opt for relief – swift relief – from the aches, jabs, and jolts that punctuate our day and often cloud our ability to enjoy life’s more pleasurable pleasures.

But, as Christians, we are called to be grateful. Grateful for the many gifts God has given us. Grateful for now. And if now is painful, well, I suppose we need to embrace that, too. Yes, all of our life, even the pain. Yes, I know well that embracing pain might bring on more of it. Sort of like opening our doors and homes to one stray cat invites others. Soon we’re fur-ther (pun intended) into cats and farther from a peaceable residence!

Digression aside…

Perhaps it would make more sense for us to not look up on pain as something we like or dislike, embrace or repel. Perhaps instead, we can view it as another state of life that God gives us to show us something, give us wisdom, or even help us recognize that He is supreme. Perhaps we can look beyond the pain, to something larger and outside ourselves. To the overall journey that God has set each one of us on. And in recognizing that journey, we can begin to see other aspects of our lives that do not have associated pain. We can see the love that surrounds us. The ways in which we make a difference to others, and they to us. We can begin to look outside and see God’s wonderful creation – and enjoy it. We can feel a soft carpet beneath our feet, or the brush of a breeze.

As I type this, I am in severe pain. But my joy at being able to convey even a little of the gratitude I feel for God’s presence in my life is motivation enough to keep going to the end of this post. The pain will still be with me when I finish. But in the midst of it, I will have done something I love for people I care about, including you. And in doing that, what’s not to like?

Peace,

Maureen

Good-Days-Bad-DaysWith each age and stage of living with lupus, I find that there are periods when I have to go back to school. Not a formal sit-at-a-classroom-desk experience, but certainly one where I look at the latest information on studies, treatments, and the ever-evolving “why” of how we develop lupus in the first place.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that there are still many things we don’t know about lupus. Besides “why?”, there is no standard treatment for the disease. Meds or combinations of meds might work for one person and not for another. Lupus still can flare at unexpected times; I might do everything “right,” but still not escape a flare.

The aging process does not stop, and with it comes a confounding set of new body changes. We lupies who reach certain age milestones might celebrate them, but then be even more confounded by symptoms: Is the extra pain the disease, or the aging process?  Is my bone loss “normal” aging, or did the long-term prednisone or other meds contribute (or cause) the problem?

Keeping current helps take charge of some of the wondering. It’s comforting to know that researchers are trying to get at the root of certain questions. Rheumatologists are keeping current along with us, which helps to unravel some of the questions of “Is it aging, or is it lupus?” And it is helpful to know that there are more resources through patient advocacy groups, such as the Lupus Foundation of America, that can help us all navigate our lives with the “wolf.”

Yes, we might not want to go back to school. But there are benefits to keeping current. And if reading up on the latest brings an extra dose of hope – I’m all for it! Yes, going back to school might not be so bad after all!

Peace,

Maureen