Job 10:15 - If I am guilty--woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction.
There it is again. Guilt. Yes, guilt. Guilt we feel because our chronic pain or illness causes us to no longer be able to do what we used to do. And, someone else has to pick up the slack. They have to do extra chores or even show up to family gatherings without us.
I know how that feels. It plagues me around every corner these days especially because a family member’s birthday is coming up and my family is gathering out of town. It’s difficult for me to travel long distances because of my health.
Sometimes my family is very understanding and don’t try to push me to attend such gatherings. But at other times, they think that I should and could travel out of town for events. In other words it’s all in my head.
Out comes the measuring spoon, no, out comes the soup ladle as I’m covered with a cloak of shame and guilt.
Have you been there? If so then you know what I’m talking about. So what’s a person to do? Should we “push” ourselves and go to events anyway? Yet, if we do, what happens? When we push ourselves when we’re really not supposed to, we end up with a pain flare-up right there. Right on the spot for all to see.
Then another series of guilt shows up as we quickly step out on the stage of pain and miss that last jump of the ballerina and fall flat on our face. It’s not something we planned. Not something we can control. We’re really not guilty of anything. We love our family and friends. Our hearts break to let people down.
And there we are just as the Bible verse above says, even if we’re not guilty of doing something wrong we become drowned in shame and our affliction. Thankfully God does not hold it against us when we must turn down an invitation to attend an event. If we ask him, he is quick to show us what we can and cannot do. He will never judge us.
So what can we do about this “guilt”? WikiHow gives us some tips on how to eliminate guilt in their article, “Eliminate-guilt,” such as understanding that sometimes we feel guilty for events out of our control.
There are many other good ideas to help with guilt. Just select the button below and read the rest of the article.
Finally, we all see things differently. It all depends on the circumstances. There will be times when events come around that you can attend. And on a good day, you might be able to do a few of those chores that don’t press your pain button.
Even if you fail, give yourself credit for at least trying. And as for your friends and family and how they feel about your limitations – show them grace. They don’t always understand what you’re going through and that when you miss events or doing things on your own it hurts your heart.
If they have an open heart, step-by-step we can gently try to explain what we’re feeling. Then we can take off that cloak of guilt and put on the joy that’s around us.
Have you ever felt guilt over your limitations? If so then you know what I’m talking about. Do you “push” yourself and do chores or go to events anyway? To leave a comment just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Job 36:15 - But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.
Many of you may have already heard of the pain scale, because your doctor asked you to give him a number between zero and ten that tells him how badly you’re hurting. But have you heard of giving your loved ones or friends a number representing your pain level instead? You might say, “I’m really in a lot of pain right now so I can’t go with you and the kids to the park.”
The pain scale, on the other hand, gives loved ones a tangible way to communicate how much pain you’re in. In addition, take a look at the smiley faces above. These smiley faces can also help your family learn how to identify your pain at the different levels on the pain scale. Zero, or the first smiley face, means no pain, and ten, the last smiley face, is the worst pain you’ve ever felt. Let’s take a look at the rest of the numbers and what they can represent:
0. No pain
1. Getting quiet
2. Withdrawn – hurts a little bit
3. Holding body part that hurts
4. Frowning – hurts a little more
6. Grimacing – hurts even more
7. Getting irritable
8. Limping – hurts a whole lot
9. Moaning or groaning
10. Crying, yelling – worst imaginable pain
Now that we’ve gotten a handle on the pain scale, let’s try the above example, but use the pain scale as our guide. It might sound something like this:
“I’m at a seven right now. I need to go lay down for a bit so that the pain doesn’t go up to an eight or nine.” Or:
“I’m at a three right now. I’d be glad to join you on this activity.”
This transforms the conversation about your pain from the appearance of just complaining to communicating with your friends and loved ones in a way they can immediately grasp.
Another thing that also helps communicate your pain is to Google the pain scale on your computer, find it, print it out and place a copy on your refrigerator. That way it’s a visual reminder to your family.
God speaks to us in our affliction. He knows what we’re going through. He will give you the words you need to say to others while you walk through any dark valley of pain. And he will shine light upon it.
Have you ever used the pain scale or another method to help communicate your pain? To leave a comment just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
You wake up one morning and realize that today’s the day. Your primary physician has referred you to a specialist to help find some answers and possible treatment options.
You begin to sweat. Your body shakes a little. And all you can think of is, “Will this doctor dismiss me as a waste of his time or will he take me seriously and show some compassion?”
Most of us have been there. When I’m there, I have to admit, that sometimes I villainize the new physician – he’s the bad guy and I’m the victim. I don’t see them as someone who really wants to help me. Granted. There are a few indifferent doctors out there, but by and large, physicians are just human beings like us. They want to make a difference in the world.
But they’re under more pressure than we can imagine. They have to see sixteen patients a day (that’s what my doctor is expected to do) plus their patients who are in the hospital. And don’t forget if they happen to be on-call this week for another physician. And yes, they have families and their own lives to contend with.
So what’s a person to do? Is there something we can do to make it a more profitable visit for the patient as well as the physician? Yes, there is.
My experience with new doctors was changed when I put myself in their shoes. I tried to think about what I could do. I decided to be brave – I asked the doctor what she liked to hear from a patient. What would help her keep our visit to the time she had available yet still find a way to help me.
You wouldn’t believe the doctor’s reaction. She stopped typing notes on her computer and looked up at me. She even smiled!
Now there was something you don’t see every day!
Here’s what she said: First, she said that she wanted to know what I was in to see her for. This was pretty normal, I had thought. But she took it a step further; she wanted me to tell her everything that was wrong up front at the beginning of our visit. She didn’t like having the patient bounce around from one symptom to the next. This way, she would know the kinds of questions to ask me to best get to the bottom of the problem. The doctor also said that she liked patients who came to the visit with questions written down. This would allow her more time for the exam and to decide what the next step would be. I also brought a friend along with me so that she could write down the physician’s suggestions and answers to my questions.
By the end of the visit, she was still the doctor and I was still the patient, but she now respected me. I walked out of her office feeling she wanted to help me and was going to do whatever it took to do just that. She was in my corner. She wasn’t the villain. She was the cavalry coming to my aid.
And here’s my last bit of advice: Take a look at the Bible verse above. The Israelites were in the middle of a battle and their fear was rising to the top. Joshua, their leader, reminded them to be strong and courageous. Though we’re not living in biblical times looking a physical enemy straight into the eye, we are still in the middle of a battle.
It can be scary not only facing a new doctor, but facing whatever the doctor tells you about your health. Remember, you’re not in this alone. Your doctor can become a general in your army fighting for you and your health. And God will never leave your side through it all.
For more tips on how to speak to your doctor choose the link below.
Which tips for speaking to a new doctor can you also share with us? To leave a comment just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Acts 17:24-25 - The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
Today I’m going to do something that I haven’t done as of yet. Because of its importance and application to chronic pain, illness and emotional pain, I’m going to be doing a cross-over. I’ll be using the same article in both chronic pain and emotional pain blogs. The topic is our breathing.
Many do not know just how effective this weapon is. Just as women use breathing techniques to help with the pain from labor, breathing can also be used for those suffering from pain.
First, let’s take a look at what our usual breathing pattern is. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your abdomen. Notice which hand rises first and what happens when you exhale. Does your abdomen swell with each breath or does your chest rise first? The usual way to breathe only uses the upper lungs. This limits the amount of oxygen the body has available.
Now, I want you to keep breathing, but this time I want you to allow the air to fill your abdomen first and then chest. Breathe normally again. Can you feel the difference? Let’s do another exercise.
Breathe in filling both your abdomen and your chest cavity to the count of four. Briefly hold your breath, and then release the air slowly through your lips to the count of eight. It may take you some practice to consistently fill to four and release to eight seconds.
This type of breathing was taught to me, by a nurse, when I was in the hospital and in a great deal of pain. At that point I would’ve tried almost anything to help the pain go away. I really didn’t think it was going to make any difference. Yet, it not only helped with the pain it also helped me to relax. Now I have a weapon I can take out any time whether I’m experiencing pain or anxiety.
Just as the verses above point out – God even gives us our very breath. It’s one of his gifts to us. It’s what keeps us alive and can be the gift that lowers our pain.
To leave a comment just click on the blue word "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Psalm 52:8-9 - But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
Today is one of those days. The pain is great. I can hardly move.
Some days it seems that all I can do is take care of my needs and beyond that just push through. Try to survive another day. The dishes may pile up. I may not leave my home only to walk my dog to the front yard.
But we weren’t meant to spend our life in survival mode. We were meant to flourish – to grow, to thrive, and to be active. But how can I flourish in my painful circumstances?
We take a look at olive trees for our example.
Olive trees have been growing since before early biblical times. They grew in the area of Mediterranean and more specifically in and around Jerusalem, such as the olive grove in the Garden of Gethsemane. Olive trees were also planted around the Jewish temple. They were hearty trees withstanding even the heaviest of droughts. And their leaves were always green. They still are.
Yet, even the writer of the Psalm above, David, who walked with God and was called “a man after God’s own heart”, lost sight of God’s unfailing love and hope. David was being pursued by his enemies and could only see his plight not God’s upcoming intervention. We can see though that by the eighth verse of Psalm 52, David turned his gaze back to God and believed he could be like “an olive tree flourishing in the house of God” regardless of his painful circumstances. How did he do that? He praised God for his faithfulness and in what he had already done for David.
When I do this, I take my eyes off myself and onto God and He always brings me not just through the day I’m in; but, through all of my days as well, and helps me find a way to be productive even if it’s small. Maybe it’s a phone call to a friend who is also suffering. Maybe it’s writing a card. Go outside and soak up some sun. But whatever it is, by doing something I take myself out of “survival mode” and become like that green, flourishing olive tree.
Do you have any ideas to share about how to pull yourself out of "survival mode"? To leave a comment just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
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.