Isaiah 40:1-2 - Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
It’s another one of those days. You stayed up late working on a project knowing full well that if you did, you’d receive what was coming to you.
The pay you’d receive isn’t something you earn at work like overtime pay. It’s also not the pay you’d receive by way of complements and the words, “job well done.”
The “reward” I’m talking about can’t be taken to the bank to save up to spend on something you really want. The “reward” due to you would be how your body reacts to work those long hours. To be more specific, it would come in the form of a pain flare-up.
A pain flare-up can come in the form of muscle spasms, deep bone pain, loss of strength, inability to function on a daily basis and the guilt that would follow knowing that you had caused harm to your body.
But don’t stay put in guilt mode. Sometimes we have to do what we have to do. Life expects us to sometimes step up to the plate and give it our best shot. Our team is counting on us. All the bases are loaded and we’re up to bat. We can’t just put down the bat and run away. Right?
Not all is lost though. There are things you can do to quench the flames of a pain flare-up before the fire gets out of control when you must push yourself at work or home. Here are a few:
These are are just some of the ways that I use to help me make it through a difficult pain day. Painpathways.org, in their article, “Preventing and Recovering from … Overdoing It!” provides us with several ways to cope with a pain flare-up. One is to, “schedule a rest period mid-morning and mid-afternoon. A half-hour is usually effective, but some people take an hour or longer.” Another way is to, “do light stretching and petting your dog.” Animals can make a big impact on how you feel on the outside as well as the inside.
Though going through a pain flare-up can seem all consuming, with the right knowledge, help from coping skills and the support of others, you can get through the flare-up easier and faster than you may have thought you could.
In addition, take a look at the Bible verse above. Sometimes we may indeed feel guilty that we caused another pain flare-up, but God is ready to comfort you and speak kindly. He knows the price you’ve paid, and will wrap his arms around you, hold you and tell you that you’ll get through the pain together.
2 Corinthians 1:4 – Who Comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
When walking the road of pain, we come upon those we know. We stop and look deeply into their eyes. Just beneath the surface, lays a mix of frustration along with sympathy.
They want to see us:
It’s hard for them when we can’t seem to find relief. So what do we do?
We all carry pain around with us, as we walk down the road of life. Let’s sit down together and share openly what’s going on. Let’s be there for each other and try to understand what we’re each walking through. Because when we help someone else:
Also, our suffering can be used to help others. Here are some ideas from yourfamilyexpert.com in their article, “The Secret Way Suffering Helps Us to Help Others.” One way is when we’ve made a bad choice in the past we can lift a voice of warning against addition, abuse, impulsiveness, crime, and a variety of other choices, speaking from experience and influencing others to avoid our mistakes. Also, our pain helps us to be more compassionate and tenderhearted towards others who suffer, which in turn leads to some of the most joyous and satisfying relationships of our lives.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. In this we see the good that can come from our suffering. For when we receive comfort from God, we can share that comfort with others. We don’t have to reach out to someone empty handed. No matter how much we are hurting, there’s someone who is reaching out their hands with hope of finding someone who will take the time and reach out to them. Let’s take our sorrows and turn them into stepping stones of comfort and renewal.
James 5:12 – Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
When living with chronic pain, at what cost does my saying “yes” bring when being asked to do something?
If you constantly push your needs down inside you where no one can see them, and say, “Yes,” to whatever someone is asking you to do, how does that make you feel?
So you see what happens? When you’re not being honest and say, “Yes,” when you want to say, “No,” you risk a break down. Your body says, “Enough!”
What are some things that you can do to change not only the outcome of a conversation with someone, but help maintain good relationships?
Here’s one idea – There’s strength in the words, “Let me think about it,” and, “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” It doesn’t mean that you’re going to excuse yourself from helping others. It just means that taking a few minutes or hours to sort through their request is okay.
Creakyjoints.org has some other ideas in their article, “Here’s Some Much Needed Advice for Saying No to Plans When You Have a Chronic Illness (Without Feeling Totally Lame). One of their suggestions is to have an elevator speech ready. Don’t be caught off guard when well-meaning friends and family bombard you with questions or try to guilt you to attend a gather. Try a narrative like this, “I know I look fine on the outside but my joints hurt so much I can barely move. Sometimes I feel exhausted. This is a real medical condition, and I need your support.”
When faced with a situation that you know you can’t say, “Yes,” to try to be prepared ahead of time in your mind what you can say to decline when you aren’t able to fulfill someone’s request. Even the Bible verse above says to not try to convince someone why you have to say, “No.” Just let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no. There’s freedom in sticking to your boundaries. Then, when you are having a good day, your friends and family will appreciate your company all the more.
Proverbs 25:16 – If you find honey, eat just enough – too much of it, and you will vomit.
“Pass the sugar,” someone says. The sugar is passed and two teaspoons are slipped into a cup of tea. No problem, for most people. But for those who have diabetes, it can be a dangerous choice.
Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a chronic disease in which your blood sugar levels (glucose) are too high. What you eat provides glucose for your body. Insulin, a hormone, helps glucose filter into your body and provide energy. Sometimes, with diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, and sometimes none at all. This is true of Type 1 diabetes. Whereas, in Type 2 diabetes, the way your body processes glucose fails to do so correctly.
In both types of diabetes, this is why you can’t just slip those two teaspoons of sugar into your tea.
There are other types of diabetes, such as prediabetes where the blood sugar is too high but not to the point of being in the diabetic range, and gestational diabetes which can occur during pregnancy where the mother’s glucose levels are too high.
Depending on the kind of diabetes and the level of severity, it can be treated by diet alone, prescription drugs or shots.
Speaking of diet, so what types of foods are good for a diabetic and which should be avoided? Webmd.com, in their article, “Best and Worst Foods for Diabetes,” gives us some suggestions. Some foods listed are starches which include the best to be whole grains such brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or amaranth while avoiding processed grains such as white rice and white flour. Raw or steamed vegetables are a good choice such as plain frozen vegetables, kale, spinach, and arugula. Avoid canned vegetables with lots of added sodium, vegetable cooked with lots of butter, cheese or sauce. Read the article to find the complete list of recommended foods.
Understanding diabetes, how it affects your body and how food choices can go a long way in helping stabilize blood glucose levels. Always check with your doctor or a nutritionist before making changes to your diet.
Also, one of the keys to healthy eating is mentioned in the Bible verse above. Even back then, it was recognized that too much sugar, in this case honey, could make you sick. This is important to consider for those who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and for those of us who are trying to prevent it.
Exodus 33:14 - The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
To the person who suffers with chronic pain or an illness, each day can feel like a marathon.
To the healthy individual is not a difficult task to prepare to leave their homes. However, to the unhealthy person everything they do to get themselves ready to face the day is exhausting.
And then, after getting ready to leave, it may be that they’re just too tired to join the world.
I commend those who make it out the door each day, whether it be to a job or to a doctor’s appointment. Their energy level now, as the day passes, decreases with each step they take. Exausted, they return home and after some lunch they decide to rest for a while.
To the healthy person taking a nap in the middle of the day sounds like an excuse to be lazy, and that it will hurt their ability to sleep at night. But to the one in pain, without a nap in the middle of the day, we can’t make it through the day. It may be that the nap will affect their sleep, but they have to do what they have to do.
So, let’s take a look at why napping during the day can be good for you. Michaelhyatt.com, in their article, “5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day,” discusses the benefits of napping such as a nap restores alertness. The energy dip you feel in the afternoon can be combated with a twenty to thirty minute nap. Also, the secret to becoming more productive is not managing your time; it’s managing your energy.
We can see that with a person suffering from a chronic health condition a nap each day may be necessary to give them the energy they need to make it through their day. But we can also see the benefits of a healthy person taking a nap each day. Take a look at the Bible verse above. God not only supports our taking a nap each day, but it is he who gives us this rest and will go with us throughout our day.
Romans 12:15 - Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
In the distance you see someone you know coming your way.
They’ve been suffering with a disease that causes great pain for some time. In the flash of a moment, your thoughts are running quickly into your head wondering if they saw you or not. Maybe you could just turn down the next isle, and get away without them seeing you and having to talk to her.
In some ways you want to know how she’s doing, but then, what would you say? You’ve already talked to her before and stumbled through trying to find something to say when you can tell, just by looking at her, that she’s hurting.
Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you would feel if people started avoiding you because they’re uncomfortable around you. They know, just by looking into your eyes, that you’re at a loss not knowing how you could help them.
Don’t turn away. What you don’t know is a few kind words to someone in pain can bring hope and a healing balm to the soul. Keep walking toward them. You may be the only person they see all day that wants to at least try to be there for them.
Here are some ideas on what you can say to a person who is suffering and what not to say on medium.com in their article, “Say This, Not That When Someone is Hurting,” such as don’t say, “I know what you’re going through,” because you can’t know what they’re feeling. Also, never use the words, “It could be worse.” It may be true, but it’s also thoughtless.
When you have a friend who is in pain, it can be difficult to know how to start a conversation. You may even try to avoid your friend for fear of making things worse. Reach out to your friend anyway. Just like the Bible verse above says, we are to rejoice when our friends rejoice and mourn with them when they mourn. Just being with your friend may be the greatest gift you can give them.
2 Timothy 2:20 - In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.
Did you know that all of us are a vessel? Some vessels are made of fine gold, while others are made of clear glass. Gold is stronger than glass when a gold vessel is made, but the clear glass vessel can also become strong.
And here’s how that might happen:
At first you’re just an ordinary glass vase. It’s good to hold flowers from a garden or those sent from someone who’s in love. The recipient accepts the vase, and are proud of it, so they put it up on the mantle for all to see.
Later, they go to a store nearby and buy a different vessel. This one is round and is used to eat cereal out of in the morning. It’s made of glass, but not a particularily special glass. But it still does the job it was made to do. And, when it’s made, the glass is thicker than that of a vase, because glass bowls can sometimes find themselves knocked over onto the floor. No worries. It doesn’t break and lives to be used at breakfast another day.
That night, they open a cupboard and pull out yet another vessel. This one is a plate. Some plates in the cupboard are plain and made of simple glass, but others are delicately embossed with roses and tulips with gold paint covering its edges. The decorated plates are not always used, but brought out only for special occasions.
Then it happens – as they reach for a delicate, china plate it slips out of their hands and crashes when it hits the floor. What a loss. They sweep up the pieces and take them to the trash, because the plate isn’t good for anything. Or is it?
Do you ever feel like that shattered plate? Do you think that nothing good can possibly become of you because of the circumstances of you life?
Thoughtcatalog.com has some ideas on putting your life back together and becoming more than just an ordinary vessel, in their article, “26 Ways to Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken,” such as taking a course that teaches you something new. What we know changes the landscape of who we are. Also, learn to walk away from situations that are holding you back; break away from what you’ve known.
Back to the illustration above – After the broken plate had been thrown in the trash, the owner had second thoughts and so they dug through the trash and found all the broken pieces. The pieces were placed on a table next to them. They watched in amazement as the pieces were drawn together into a plate again.
Yet, I can’t do this and you can’t do this. But I know someone who can. God alone can put you back together again. And when he does, your vessel will be even stronger than before and much more than just ordinary.
Ezekiel 34:16 - I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
Have you suffered an injury and thought, “If only I’d been paying more attention to what I was doing?”
Maybe, maybe, maybe …
You can examine every detail over and over, but to keep focusing on what you might have been able to do doesn’t change what happened. There is something you can do, though – be more aware of your surroundings and what you are doing.
These four ways are known to most people, but what about watching your surroundings to help you stay well and free of accidents?
As you read through the list you may have found ways that you’re not being careful, which could mean, that it was your fault when you got hurt or sick recently. Try not to be too hard on yourself. It’s not too late to learn new ways to prevent accidents. Washingtonnational.com has some tips on prevention in their article, “A Guide to Preventing Accidents at Home and in the Workplace."
One way is to manage your meds. If you take prescription or over-the-counter drugs ask your doctor and pharmacist about possible side effects, because they can alter your coordination, alertness and judgment. In addition, people of all ages are injured or die from falls. Be sure to check your vision regularly. Poor eyesight can lead to a fall.
Being more aware can make it less likely that you are injured or become sick and will help you see that not all of these circumstances are your fault. Be sure that God will bind up any injury you’ve experienced, and will strengthen you when you are sick. Also, remember that he’s not as judgmental and hard on us as we are on ourselves. I guarantee that he is a merciful God and will be with us no matter what.
Psalm 71:12 - Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me.
There can come a time, if we have a chronic health condition, when we can no longer function on our own. It can be especially difficult when we’re used to doing things our own way. I know it was for me.
The hardest part for us is to trust other people to fill in the gap for us. Trust can be a difficult thing for a lot of people, so even in this we need to believe people will help us and not feel resentful for doing so.
Yet, it is also our responcibility when asking for help to not seem needy. If you’re being needy, you can be sure you’ll get a lower response rate from your friends and family. They may see you as someone who is asking for something all of the time. This can wear on relationships.
Here are a couple of my suggestions and then I’ll share what others have suggested:
Take a look at some additional thoughts from, oneofmany.co.uk in their article, “How to Ask For Help Without Being Needy.” When you ask, don’t pre-empt a no. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming their answer will be a no. Also, receive the help graciously and when the other party has a need, be ready to help them.
It’s been seven years now since my health declined and I needed to ask for help from others. Though it was difficult to do so then, now I can see God’s handiwork upon my life. He has shown me that I don’t need to feel ashamed for asking for help. Ultimately even when asking someone to help me, it’s really like asking God for that help.
Joshua 6:5 - When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.
Do you remember the days of watching old western movies where the town is in danger of being over run by bad guys? Then the town heard the sound of the trumpet blast and just above the next rise they could see them – the cavalry coming to save the day.
We still have a modern day cavalry. They’re dressed in white coats or a shirt and a tie. They’re our doctors. Having spent years to get to the point of being able to even treat a patient, they have done much to join the rest of the cavalry.
My doctor is the cavalry coming to my aid. She may not always tell me what I want to hear, but she will tell me what I need to hear. She is a rare combination of wisdom and compassion. She’s not seeing me just because she wants to pull some more money from my insurance company. It’s easy to see that because she always takes just a few more moments than they’re allotted for each patient, to make sure I don’t have any questions or other physical problems I need help with.
But some of you may have a physician who really isn’t in your corner. They’re always in a hurry, typing into their computer, not looking up at you and only trying to pass on a new kind of medicine a sales rep just gave to them to push. If you have a doctor like that it may be time to find another.
There are still those in the medical profession who are physicians because they do care about their patients. Seek one out. Also, try to remember – your doctor works for you not the other way around regardless of what insurance you carry. If you can get a handle on that in your mind, you may be less likely to feel intimidated by them.
Find other ideas on how to feel less intimidated and see your doctor as the cavalry coming to rescue you on psychologytoday.com, in their article, “Don’t be Intimidated in the Doctor’s Office: Six Strategies.” Here are a couple of their suggestions: Take someone with you to your appointments. They will help you feel like you have an ally when speaking to the doctor. Also, let the doctor be the expert but don’t be afraid to ask questions.
With the help of the ideas mentioned in the article above, we can change our way of how we perceive our doctor. Remember, they are there to rescue you from your affliction and find you the help you need. Their words can become the trumpet that signals the battle is about to be won.
They are also the sound of comforters ready to help you learn how to live with your ailment if there is no cure for it. God knows you need that city wall, (affliction) to come down and sends rescuers to march in. And he will also help you if the doctor you see doesn’t want to be part of the army to help you. Depend on God’s direction and he will send the right help to save the day.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.