Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: Steering the ‘Type A’ in All of Us

posted by mpratt

I’ve heard many lupus patients say, over the course of time in which I’ve spoken with patient groups, that many of us were and still are “Type A” personalities. The ones who did it all. The ones who would take the call to help – and pitch right in. The ones who seemed to have multi-tasking down to a science and an art. When lupus hit, those skills came in handy at first. There was juggling the new list of specialists, meds, and tests. There was trying to add the lupus lifestyle without sacrificing other activities or responsibilities. There was the initial energy from the relief of finally getting a diagnosis, finally knowing what was wrong and having a game plan – and so there was, at first, the ability to forge ahead still in “Type A” mode. I’ve been right there with you, as have, I know, not just lupus patients, but many people with chronic illness and pain.

But now, with years of lupus under my belt,  I recognize that the “Type A” tendency needs to be, well, steered more firmly than before. And, it’s quite a task, even on the best of days! That ol’ plate that used to be heaping with “to do” items has gotten smaller and, so, the number of tasks that can be on it at any given time.  Recognizing fatigue and rationing energy are even more important, now, as is relaxing, truly relaxing (really tough sometimes…okay, frequently!). Faith becomes ever more important, too, as a way to calm the spirit and help discern exactly what to do with the precious few minutes or hours of strength in any given day.

The most crucial thing I’ve found when it comes to not having as much ability to run blithely ahead throughout the day is that this reduction in energy does not mean I or you or anyone with lupus or another illness is a failure. It simply means our lives are different, now, and we can take who we are, all that we are, and fit quite nicely into the parameters of those new lives.

Trying to keep on the way life was before lupus or any other illness is much like trying to jam a foot into a shoe that is way too small.  Pain ensues. And disappointment. But in the right size shoe, ahh! Now, we can walk!

Blesssings for the day,

Maureen

 

Chronic Illness: How Can We Ever Plan Ahead?!

posted by mpratt

Sound familiar? You plan to do something, having been planning for weeks. And then…Here it comes again. Wham! Fatigue like a brick squashing a tiny bug. And no matter how much encouragement others might try to give, all those plans are shredded and gone. You feel bad because you can’t do something enjoyable. You feel bad because you think you’ve let others down. And you feel bad because, well, you feel bad from the flair and the disappointment and the sense that no matter how hard you try, your “normal” life just seems to always fall apart.

If you have chronic illness, how do you ever plan ahead?

I’ve found the simple answer to this is, “You can’t, definitely.”

But the longer answer is a bit more complex.  I do make plans. But I couch them with the caveat that I might not be able to follow through, even at the last minute. (Yes, there have been times when I’ve been nearly out the door, but haven’t gone out because of that sudden, crushing fatigue.) I also try not to pack too much into one day (learned this the hard way – still learning, in fact!). One fun thing at a time – so there can be other things at other times. And, I try to plan ahead with people who will truly understand; there is no need to heap guilt upon disappointment on ourselves, planning activities with people who don’t have compassion for what we’re going through.

Traveling brings up problems of its own, of course.  I recommend (and get) trip insurance just in case and allow for rest days on either end of a trip. I also reserve a wheelchair at the airport; I don’t need it each time, but having it there has more than once made the difference between holding extreme fatigue at bay and not.

If I’m really looking forward to an event, I know that there will be a certain amount of “positive stress.” We lupies and others with chronic illness need to take this into account, too, because stress is, after all, stress, and we have to manage that as we do other not-so-positive stress. All part of planning ahead.

Even with the “best laid plans,” illness can bring us down.  So, we do best to cultivate a strong and willing spirit, one that accepts all that God brings and all that happens as part of a whole, wondrous life. When I plan to do something, I always remember that, where there is God’s will, there will be a way. And if it isn’t meant to be, I give myself permission to rest and give thanks for friends who understand and the times ahead when plans will become activities and, afterward, cherished memories.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Heart Health: Are We Obsessing Over Obesity?

posted by mpratt

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

During each of my conversations with experts on heart health, I hear a common refrain: The risk factors for heart disease are improper diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and obesity. This last factor has also been in the news frequently; according to some experts, obesity is on the rise worldwide, on the verge of overtaking world hunger as a major world health problem.

When it comes to the clinical setting, however, doctors have related to me the difficulty they have with talking about weight with some of their patients.  One doctor told me that, often, when she says a patient is in the “obese” range of the BMI scale, frequently the patient is astounded; he or she might think her- or himself overweight, but surely not “obese.”  In our weight-obsessed world, ‘obese’ is not a term many people want to use to describe themselves.  And yet, what it means is so vitally important to identifying and addressing health, especially heart health issues, and ignoring it or trying to deny it does nothing to promote taking steps to better health.

Would it help if we changed the word? We do have other choices:  Corpulent, stout, fleshy, chubby.  I suppose, too, we could come up with another scale, beyond BMI, to quantify healthy and unhealthful weight.  But would that change minds – and hearts – to better accept reality and start on the road to better health? Or, is there something else we should be focusing on instead? Something, perhaps, that would show a “before” and “after” that is not merely cosmetic, but that shows the benefits of getting beyond the ‘word’ to the ‘well.’

At the beginning of the anit-smoking campaign, media advertisements did not pull punches; they showed the raw affects of tobacco on lungs and lives. In much the same way, the television program “The Biggest Loser” takes each participant through a very frank, open, and telling physical exam at the beginning, showing each his or her health problems, and at the end, showing the progress that has been made.  These are not easy to watch, but are much more instructive than uttering a word, with the connotation that it is “bad,” and leaving it at that.

People and labels tend to be uneasy partners, especially when it comes to health issues. Perhaps we obsess too much over categories, when we could be encouraging better habits that lead to better outcomes, and self-esteem that comes from tackling a tough personal situation, turning it around, and coming through much happier and healthier.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Tips for Coping with a Loved One’s Long-Distance Health Crisis

posted by mpratt

The first day of February started off as a good day for me. Full of energy, lots of plans. A completely unexpected phone call in the midst of it changed that; my father was hospitalized with heart problems.

The irony was not lost on me; February 1 kicked off National Heart Health Awareness and Education Month, and many of the plans I mentioned earlier involved writing about the personal side of heart disease.  (You can imagine I said, “Good timing, Dad,” to myself. More than once!)

A family member or loved one’s long distance health crisis is not easy to cope with, but I thought some of the things I find helpful might help you, too, if you’re faced with much the same situation.

First: Try to get all the information you can about the situation, but understand that, especially at the beginning of a crisis, much may not be clear or known at all.  Try to pray for guidance about what to ask and say, and try to remain calm. Provide all the information you can to medical professionals there about any of your loved one’s pertinent health information so that those treating him or her are fully informed.

Second: Respect the expertise and knowledge of the health professionals involved in your loved ones’ treatment, and ask them what you may expect in terms of follow-ups and further communication. Also, when calling the hospital, for example, ask when is the best time to call (change of shifts, for instance, are difficult times to get updates because the staff nurses are rotating in and out of their shifts).

Third: Before you quickly jump on a plane and go, find out as much as you can, and try to determine what is best for you, especially if you have a chronic health condition or other health problem that requires extra attention and may be aggravated by sudden travel.

Fourth: Telephone communication can be difficult, especially if your loved one is under sedation, not able to speak clearly, or perhaps already has an underlying dementia that makes any talking problemmatic.  Before you panic about what you perceive to be your loved one’s condition based upon a phone call, speak with the charge nurse, guardian, or other person nearer to the situation and ask him or her to give you a better idea of your loved one’s condition.

Fifth: If there is a time difference involved, let everyone know, so that you can communicate effectively (those wee-hours calls might be necessary, but they can be difficult if one person is so groggy he or she can’t be as articulate as he or she could be!)

Fifth: Pray for your loved one, those treating him or her, and also for yourself. You need comfort, support, and strength. Being so far away can be frustrating and scary. Accept God’s grace to “be not afraid,” and trust that all will be in His hands. All will be well.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Previous Posts

Chronic Illness: How do you describe it, exactly?
Time often flies by when you're living, and when you have a chronic illness, time passes sometimes in odd ways. Slowly, in some measure, because living with pain is especially, well, painful, and the more pain you feel, the slower time seems to move (just think of waiting for a med to kick in, for e

posted 8:25:10pm Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Chronic Illness: Managing the Munchies
I really, really, really like chocolate. Chocolate and almonds. Or, just chocolate. And yet, I know how bad it can be if I over-indulge. Extra weight on lupus-arthritic joints

posted 8:10:25pm Jul. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Chronic Illness: Managing the Usual with the Unusual
I'm typing this with a sore arm and a couple of month's journey - again - to determine "once and for all" the reason why I don't hold onto iron. For years, I've dealt with iron levels that get lower and lower until, finally, I have to have an infusion. And, for years, the reason for this, or, rather

posted 7:44:26pm Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Scripture: Sometimes, I Have to Laugh
I once told someone that I find much humor in the Bible, that I even laughed sometimes, as I read it. She looked at me as if I'd spoken heresy, and mumbled, "I can't imagin

posted 7:30:34pm Jul. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Let's Hear It for Christmas in July!
I used to think that "Christmas in July" events were only commercial enterprises, destined to convince people to "shop now!" or "buy now!" But, this year, I'm embracing "Christmas in July" for what it truly can be - a reminder to kindle and care for the precious spirit of Christmas all year round, e

posted 7:22:12pm Jul. 14, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.