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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: When You’re Just Not Pretty

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

However hard we try, sometimes, in life with a chronic illness, we are just not pretty. Rashes, hair loss, weight gain or loss, bruises, swelling in places we don’t want it – oh, the list is long! And, when the visible signs of chronic illness (or the audible sounds of an infection) are very, very strong, well, we just might opt for opting out of activities that put us in social situations where we’ll feel conspicuous. Better, we might think, to be in a protective environment than have to explain ourselves or silently bear the stares and glares of others. And, yes, sometimes that is better, because our emotions are tied in with our health, and sometimes we’re just too fragile to warrant venturing out.

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But sometimes, it’s good to take stock of those less-than-attractive attributes and creatively, positively deal with them in a way that gives us a bit more confidence and helps us live a bit more socially.

Nearly 20 years ago, at the beginning of the horrible flare that ushered in lupus, I lost all of my hair. Since then, I’ve had one year when it grew back enough so that I did not have to wear wigs or other head coverings. I’ve long ago shed (pardon the pun) my embarrassment at being bald, and instead have learned to enjoy the variety available in the wigs, etc., that I have acquired. Moreover, I’ve learned how to move beyond “this is not pretty” to acceptpositively I interact with others; if I wilt under someone’s stare, I project weakness and sadness. But, if I smile back, despite how I feel or how lupus is affecting me that particular day, I project strength and faith.

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Above all, it’s important to remember that we are, each of us, beautiful within. No cliche meant, here, only truth. Because each person who lives will experience physical changes that dismay, confound, or confuse. The aging process does not skip anyone! But it is the Spirit inside, the light and the humanity within, that carries abiding beauty that never ages and always shines – as long as we cherish and nurture it!

Blessings,

Maureen

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The Power of the Nap

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Lavoview/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Lavoview/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was first diagnosed with lupus, one of the things I learned was that the fatigue of a flare can be overwhelming. “Bone-numbing” is a description I’ve used a lot to try to help others understand how beyond-tired I can suddenly feel.  Of course, as with many lupus patients, my diagnosis did not happen exactly when the disease first presented itself. I probably had lupus way before a doctor figured it out – I had no clue what lupus even was until my rheumatologist told me that’s what she thought I had.

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One thing I did know way before lupus, however, was the power of the nap. The llooonnng nap – two or three hours of snoozing away in the middle of the day. Ah, what a wonderful thing! You can imagine, then, how delighted I was when my doctor told me that I had to rest, had to take naps! Being given permission to nap was much like being told I could eat a whole, big bar of chocolate in one sitting!  Yes, lupus has its perks; I’m always looking for a bright side, and when it comes to allowing for rest and, especially, naps, for me, there’s no question.

Turns out, too, that a growing body of research is showing that even short naps in the middle of the day can have some benefits. Naps can rejuvenate our minds, helps tense muscles relax, and allow the subconscious to work on pesky problems whose solutions elude us in the glare of a full-forward workday. Yup, naps are not just beneficial to pre-schoolers and kindergarteners!

Sometimes, we might view taking time to nap as a weakness. But whether you have a chronic illness like lupus or a highly stressful job that requires extended hours of attention, you might think about tapping into the power of napping. You might wake up to a whole new level of you!

Joys,

Maureen

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Chronic Pain and Illness: Who Is By Your Side?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicLong days of illness can wear on us, and often make us feel as if we are navigating choppy waters in a leaky boat all by ourselves. How well I know the feeling when I’m especially ill of the hours dragging on, thinking that everyone else is out in the world, busy, being productive, while I’m confined and my most immediate goal is to manage to take all of my meds at the right time and in the right combination!

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But, for me, those times do not last for long. Oh, the flare or the illness might continue, sometimes for weeks or months. But the feeling of being on my own doesn’t last if I keep in mind those who are by my side all the way, in heart and soul, if not physically.

God is present at all times, and if I imagine Him standing beside me, I feel a surge of strength and comfort.

Friends are only a call or an email away, and just that knowledge eases any sense of loneliness.

Doctors, pharmacists, and others, directly or indirectly accompany me through the ups and downs of lupus and infections, and the confidence I have in them is powerfully supportive when the pain is especially bad or other symptoms hurt.

If you think of the support that you have, the people and the Spirit by your side, you can chase away much of the loneliness you may feel, especially at the hardest moments, when it seems like everyone “has a life” but you.

Truly, you are not alone! Invite those by your side to come in closer – and feel their encouragement and love.

Blessings!

Maureen

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A Praying Spirit: Do You Judge When You Pray?

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s easy to pray for those we love. Friends, family, neighbors, people who help us or encourage us. But, what about praying for those people who have hurt us? Or, who have committed crimes, acts of violence, or other attrocities? It can be  much more difficult to pray compassionately for those whom we feel have no compassion, and it can be nearly impossible to lift up those who have deeply injured us.

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But, we are called to pray for everyone – in the words given by Our Father – “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Moreover, we are called to be non-judgemental toward those tough intercessions.

Think about the ways in which you judge before you pray. Perhaps you sift through your prayer list and only consider those who are close to you, or whom you love a great deal. Or, perhaps you do pray for those who have injured you, but that prayer is tinged with dissatisfaction or dislike.

The more we are mindful to be compassionate toward all, the more of a difference we can make in those darker corners of the world. And the more we will model our Heavenly Father, walking with Christ throughout our daily lives.

Blessings,
Maureen

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