Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: Sometimes It’s the Little Things…

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of dexchao/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dexchao/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Paper cuts, ear wax build up, a common cold, a brief bump against a table that bruises a leg.

For many people, these things are inconveniences that pass quickly. Oh, but we who have chronic illness most probably know differently. The “little things” can quickly become like that sneaky waterfall, where calm waters lead to a violent, uncontrollable cascade of problems.

Many of us who have lupus, for example, have to take drugs that suppress our immune systems. Speaking for myself, I have not “just” had a cold for years – no, I get sniffles that go into, at the very least, bronchitis, and usually the whole illness takes a month or more to recover from.

I’ve know lupies and others who have chronic illness get a “little” paper cut or other “owie,” and they end up with MRSA or some other nasty infection that takes months and course after course of strong antibiotics to get over.

Prednisone has saved many lives, but the side effects can be tough to deal with, such as the deep and ugly bruising that can come from even a slight bump.

Perhaps, though, it’s not so much the existence of “little things,” but rather the hesitancy of bringing them up to doctors or loved ones. Surely, you might think, it’s not worth worrying about a scratch or a sniffle? But, it could be important to address it; as I mentioned, those little things can snowball at times, so best err on the side of caution.

The other part about the “little things” that is tough to live with is that we are living with so much else already. It’s hard to explain sometimes that excessive ear wax can be the tipping point to bone-numbing fatigue, but if you’re dealing with harsh joint pain, multiple meds, and fevers that spike, that one, little inconvenient trip to the doctor to flush out wax build up so you can hear can truly be the proverbial straw.

If you are reading this and you feel silly when “little things” derail your day, please don’t. These stressors have an impact, and when you have serious health issues besides, they really can amount to more than a mole hill.

Go easy on yourself. Don’t be afraid to bring up “little things” issues with your doctors – they’ve probably heard it all before, and are ready to help you with them, as well as larger health issues. And as for your loved ones, don’t be afraid to talk with them, too. People who truly love you will understand. And, when the “little things” are properly corralled and taken care of, you’ll feel the stronger – and healthier – for it.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

The Value of Being Put on Hold

posted by mpratt

pic for website 2012If we took all of the minutes and hours that we’ve spent on hold, waiting to talk to someone on the telephone, waiting for test results, waiting for appointments in the doctor’s office…and we received even $.25 per minute, imagine how rich we’d be!  Add in the amount of time we’re undoubtedly going to use up correcting electronic records or website information (passwords, etc.), and, well, our resources would be even richer.

Alas, we don’t get paid to wait. But the time we spend proverbially twiddling our thumbs can be rich, nonetheless, or, at least we might find it to be if we approach it with something other than utter dislike.

While I wait, I pray. I organize my thoughts and notes. I read. I work crossword puzzles. I try to learn more patience, understanding that some waits are inevitable. And I truly try to take to heart the notion that, although when we’re on hold, we think that the moment of connection and finally getting information or speaking with someone is the big point, the goal, the minutes and hours of waiting are present for us, too, and valid, valuable parts of our lives.

Years ago, a friend, now deceased, gave me a book called, “When God Has Put You on Hold.” I’d never considered those moments of waiting for God’s answer or response to be similar to other forms of being on hold, but in a way, they are. And, the more we continue on, act and live, and work hard to be reflective of Him, the more valuable those moments will be, too.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Ahead of the Holidays

posted by mpratt

pic for website 2012Are you ready, yet?

No, not for this weekend. Not for the rest of this month.

Are you ready for the holidays?

As I type this, my fatigue level is 100 on a scale of 1-10. And just as my eyes have beheld the latest of my many prescription refill forms, so, too, have they beheld the first hint of holidays – Halloween candy is making an appearance, barely a few weeks after vendors’ “Christmas in July” sales.

Oh, my!

At this moment, I cannot imagine mustering the energy for all the activity that winds and races through Oct-Nov-Dec. But, I can start thinking of how I’m going to approach that magical, wonderful, exhausting season.

I begin with things health. End-of-year appointments, tests, records checking (is all the emergency contact information/MedicaAlert info correct?)

Next, I do a “mock run” of the things I’ll need to do during holiday season – and I cut it back, item by item. As we all know, those holiday days tend to become packed with things known and things unknown (at least right now), so I want to leave ample breathing – and resting – room.

Then, comes updating and getting ahead of any holiday messages/cards/gifts that will be used or needed. I used to hand-address my cards. No more. Printed labels are wonderful things, and with a click of a button, I can change colors or fonts to reflect the season.

Now is also an excellent time to think about travel plans, and make arrangements or reach out to people you might not be able to visit or see this year.

Finally, ahead of the holidays, I pray and read up on what makes this coming time of year so special, so profound.

Inspiration for the Underdog

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So often, when we’re battling symptoms or snags in our healthcare, or just having a bad day, we feel as if life is stacked up against us. Yes, we feel like the underdog, not favored to win or even, perhaps, finish the race.

As I watch the U.S. Open tennis tournament this year, I’ve taken heart at the number of players who have defied the odds, overcome lack of privilege, sponsorship, or robust support – and have won their matches and moved on to the next round. What’s their secret? And how does that apply to the daily struggle with illness and pain?

First, it appears that many of them are not especially concerned with being the favorite or having their names emblazoned on caps and T-shirts. Perhaps, if their victories at the Open lead to more such results, they’ll begin to warm more to the idea. But actually, right now, it seems that for many of the players, the satisfaction and the support comes more from within and from a close circle of people who have supported them “before” – those who truly care, even if the players are losing.

For us, this is a potent lesson – our journey need not be filled with fanfare when we have strong faith, a vibrant spirit, and knowledge, deep and true, that God and our loved ones are with us, no matter what.

Another thing that I’ve gleaned from the rise of the underdogs is that money, sponsorship, and luxury cannot take the place of hard work, perseverance, and inner strength. It’s not the racquet or the shoes that make the player, it’s the training, talent (and what is done with it), and hours of hard work.

What does that mean for us? As we look at our surroundings and perhaps find our resources lacking, we can look beyond, to the creativity, inner core of wisdom, and constancy inside that are the true tools of people who overcome obstacles. Yes, we do have more than we think we do, and we are stronger than we think we are!

As the underdogs continue on their quest for more victories, I’m impressed with the maturity they acquire and exhibit. This happens to us, too; health challenges great and small make us learn, for sure, and also give us life experiences that mold, shape, and refine us.

Oh, yes, we’re stronger than we thought we were. And we’ll only become moreso, even if we feel like the underdog, because there are others who light the way, God is on our side, and we still, through it all, have much to give!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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