Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness and Pain: Go, Team!

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicWe who live with chronic illness and pain are athletes in more ways than one. And rather than isolated athletes, running a solo race, we are actually part of a team that takes in ourselves, our loved ones, our doctors and others who provide medical care, and our spiritual supports.

Far from being theoretical or metaphorical, the concept of being part of a team is very, very everyday real. I experienced this last week, when I lost hearing in one of my ears. Not only was my doctor instrumental in figuring out the problem and plotting a course to take care of it, but his staff was wonderfully responsive and caring, too, taking extra time to work with me when I was decidedly worried. A few years ago, because of lupus, I permanently lost hearing, especially in my right ear. This newest loss was affecting my “better” ear, so you can imagine how much of a problem that was. And it was because of the timely teamwork including me and those in my doctor’s office that the situation turned out well in the end.

When we recognize the need for teamwork in our healthcare, we give ourselves the benefit of enthusiastic support. We also take off the feeling of being a “victim” to our illness/pain, and become part of the team, part of the group dedicated to helping the situation resolve as best as possible. In concrete terms, this means actively participating in doctor’s appointments, asking questions and seeking understanding for our symptoms, conditions, medications, and other things vital to our care. We work with our doctors to chart a course, whether through a crisis or an ongoing situation, and we understand and rely on the roles played by others on the team – the relatives who may provide transportation, the pharmacist who can explain medications, and the doctor’s nurse who schedules tests and appointments.

As patients with a team, we are  not alone. We are, at our best, active members of a dedicated group that has a common goal – better health – and with all of that, a great reason to cheer!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Pain & Illness: Respect and Appreciation for the “Lowly”

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicNow more than ever, I realize how important it is to appreciate everyone who participates in our healthcare. Not only our doctors, but those who provide essential services that we sometimes overlook. In fact, it is the seemingly “least significant” of those people in healthcare-related jobs who make the greatest difference in our lives. And it is so very important to treat these people with great respect and appreciation for the times when they go the extra mile or provide extra care.

For example, anyone who has tried to get an appointment with a busy doctor knows it can take awhile. Minutes on hold, hours to get records transferred or a phone call returned, days or months to get the appointment itself. It isn’t the doctor who facilitates all of this. Rather, it is someone in his or her front office – a nurse or assistant who fields the calls and often makes the call about whether a situation requires immediate attention or can wait a bit. Yes, these “gatekeepers” are important, many times under great stress, and seldom underworked. But how often do we forget and vent our frustrations or otherwise act less than patient and courteous toward them?

Think, too, of the people who draw our blood or manage our scans, X-rays, and MRIs. If they don’t do their job properly, we might be in for pain (multiple needle sticks) or repeated tests. Yet, how often do we approach these procedures without a kind word or smile for those carrying them out?

As we start to look at the healthcare we receive as service rendered by many different individuals, not only our physicians, we can begin to see the people in the positions and extend our respect and appreciation to them, too. Believe me, the more conscious we are of this, the more smooth the path through any healthcare crisis or ongoing challenge.

Blessings for the day!

Maureen

Lupus: Coping Skills 4 and 5

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of porbital/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of porbital/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How quickly May went by! Lupus Awareness Month is nearly over. Not so, unfortunately, the disease itself. No, it’ll be with us for quite some time, and thus my fourth and fifth “Lupus Coping Skills”: Adaptability and Creativity.

These might seem obvious. Of course, when you have an unpredictable, chronic illness, you have to learn to adapt and be creative about life. But, in reality, many of us lupies, myself included, struggle with losses that lupus brings. As these add up (loss of appearance, friends, employment, health, lifestyle things like going out in the sun…etc.), we often face a crossroads. We could go blythly onward as we had before, out into the sun, for example, but given the consequences, say, a worsened lupus flare, we might be in worse shape than before – and face even more tough decisions.

The other way includes accepting the losses and limitations, but instead of remaining with gaping holes moving forward, we find other, healthful pursuits, foods, habits, and friends, to fill the voids. Thus, adaptability and creativity.

I might not be able to go outdoors during the day as I used to.  But, I can do many things indoors – including exercise and spending time with friends.  New gadgets can make it easier to adapt joint pain and limited mobility to still-important activities such as cooking. Moving the time when I do some activities (such as blogging) to when my energy is at a good level helps me to feel I’ve accomplished something during the day, while still acknowledging that other times of the day might not be as energy-filled.

Even if you are the least artistic person on the planet, you have the capability to be creative, to devise activities and a way of looking at the world that takes into account what you are capable of doing, given illness, and what your dreams and goals are. Adapting to lupus, and finding creative solutions to the problems posed by the losses it brings can truly help forge a path to dreams fulfilled and life goals met.

Blessings for the day!

Maureen

 

Live Long – Prepare Now

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicOver Memorial Day weekend, many of us catch up with family and friends. Invariably, we hear of (or meet up with) people who are in their supposedly “old” age, but who have enough energy and strength still to work, keep active, and engage in intriguing and inspiring conversations. I think of my 70-something friend who continues to work as an actress, my nearly 90 relative who still drives around town and mows his own lawn, and the 107-year old military veteran who still sits on his front porch each day to greet the world.

There have been studies of what makes for a “golden” retirement, and what might help promote productive longevity. Of course, not everything is applicable to each one of us, but from all the research, conversations, and observations, I’ve gleaned a few things:

1) Many of the top leading causes of death or poor health in later years can be attributed to the choices we make along the way. For example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is directly attributable to smoking. Heart disease can have genetic components in some cases, but a poor diet, smoking, and/or lack of exercise can contribute to it significantly. Diabetes can cause very debilitating health issues, as can obesity. Want to minimize the risk? Don’t engage in risky behavior.

2) The most active people I know, who are older, have continued to either work or put their heart into volunteer pursuits or hobbies. They are very curious about the world around them, even if that world has narrowed over the years. And, they reach out to others as others reach out to them. They continue to “exercise the brain,” and they nurture their spirits as well as their physical well-being.

3) Those who seem happiest to me (again, of course, all of this is subjective), are not likely to say, “I’m too old to…” but rather, “I’ll find a way.” This is not only encouraging, but inspiring, and has spawned a host of gizmos and gadgets to help older people do just what it is they wish to do. No doubt there will be more in the years to come – just in time for the rest of us who are not yet quite in their age range.

4) Taking stock of one’s life as the years go by is important and natural. But dwelling on the past or fixating on “the end” can certainly take away from pleasure  and purpose now. Just as in # 2 above, engaging in today, with all that God gives, is a wonderful way to affirm that life is not over at any age – and that each life, no matter how long lived on earth, is precious, worth while, and worthy of respect.

To be sure, the body ages, and sometimes creaks and cracks and infirmity can be limiting. But by living grace-fully now, a better older age is more possible.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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