Proverbs 15:30 - A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
You have a dilemma. You’re coming up on the date of an important surgery. You’re following all of your doctor’s instructions leading up to it. But there is something else to consider – Would it be a risk for me to be around other people because it’s the flu season? Should I stay at home as much as possible?
Many people during the flu season use common sense and stay home when they have the flu. But others, carrying their coughs and all, go shopping, visit with family or go to church even if they’re still sick.
But do they? I know that some of you will be angry with me, because if they stay home they don’t get paid and that means no money for bills. This is true, but what if there is someone in the desk next to you that has a lower immune system and is at risk of getting sick, also?
Back to our question concerning surgery, so here you are trying to stay well for your surgery, because many times a surgery has to be canceled because you are ill. You’re at work and keep hearing the man on the other side of the cubical repeatedly coughing and blowing him nose. You edge your chair as far away from him as you can, but you know his germs can still find you.
And as far as shopping or going to church, should you venture out and risk exposure in these situations as well? Probably not.
But here’s the rub – Why should you have to be the one who misses work, even before your surgery date? Why should you be “punished” when someone else brings germs with them?
Realize you’re not being “punished.” You just have to be aware of your surroundings when you go out.
For suggestions on how to protect yourself from becoming sick before you have surgery take a look at what doctors and nurses do in the article, “12 Ways Doctors and Nurses Keep From Getting Sick.” Their suggestions include some unusual ones including carrying your own pen with you so that you know no one else has touched it, and hold your breath and don’t inhale deeply if you’re near someone who is sneezing and coughing.
In addition to the suggestions in the article above, take a look at what the Bible verse above says. As hard as it may be when facing a surgery, focus on the positive aspects such as getting the chance to have a surgery that may improve your health. This is indeed good news and can help bring joy to your heart and a smile to your face. It can also help keep you healthy.
Leviticus 13:2 - When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a shiny spot on their skin that may be a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest.
When you were growing up did you ever have chicken pox? This is an important question for someone who’s had them, because the varicella-zoster virus takes up residence in your blood stream if you previously had chicken pox. This makes you a candidate for shingles.
Shingles is a painful rash with blisters often affecting a strip of skin across the left or right side of your upper or midline of the body, though it can affect other areas as well. Across the ribs, chest, neck or face are also frequent sites for shingles.
Some people never get shingles. Their immune system is strong enough to fight off the virus before it attacks their body. There is also another way to prevent shingles and that is to get the shingles vaccine.
Many people are worried about catching shingles from someone who has it. But you can’t catch shingles. What you can catch from a person with shingles is chicken pox if you never had it. Also, the shingle’s virus is only transmittable when there are active blisters. It’s important to have the area where shingles is active covered.
Treatment for the pain from shingles includes cool compresses as well as taking an oatmeal bath or using calamine lotion.
Healthline.com posts the article, “Shingles,” where they discuss symptoms of shingles such as red patches with blisters or flu like symptoms. The article also discusses who is at risk for shingles, diagnosis and treatment of shingles.
Shingles and other skin diseases aren’t new to recent history. You can see in the Bible verse above that there were rashes on the skin in Bible times as well. The steps someone had to take if they had a rash or skin condition was to take the person to a priest to have it examined. Today, skin diseases such as shingles and psoriasis still carry a stigma with them. It’s up to us to be sympathetic to the one who has the virus and help them get the treatments they need.
Psalm 41:3 - The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.
This past year’s flu season has been brutal. People are becoming ill more frequently and it lasts longer. Many end up in emergency rooms and are being admitted to the hospital due to complications from being sick.
Loss during the flu season can appear as sick days with lost wages, school days with missing classes and lost events with the ill person having to stay away from family events for fear of making others sick.
However, when you already battle an ongoing condition, such as chronic pain, the likely hood of catching the flu is more frequent than for the general population. It also will cause you to have a worse case of the flu with the aches and pains associated with the flu causing even greater pain than you already experience.
I spoke in previous posts about our immune systems and how it can be compromised by a chronic health condition. In this situation sometimes regardless if you take a flu vaccination or not, if you are exposed to the flu you are more likely to get it.
This is why it is important to care for your body during the flu season. This can include getting more sleep, taking vitamins such as vitamin C and staying away from places where you are more likely to be exposed to the flu. What are some other things you can do to prevent this illness?
Health.com provides a list of ways to prevent colds and the flu, in their article, “20 Surprising Ways to Prevent Colds and Flu,” such as getting a protein fix by making sure you get protein-rich foods throughout the day, especially fish, eggs and yogurt.
Though fear of getting the flu or another illness can be strong, let’s take our eyes off the fear of becoming ill and onto depending on God to sustain us.
Hosea 13:5 - I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat.
You look outside your window at the thermometer. You can’t believe your eyes. It’s 9:00 am and it’s already 92 degrees outside which means it’s probably going to be at least 115 today. It’s going to be a hot day indeed.
But I don’t live in Death Valley. I live in a small town in Northern California, and in the summer it gets very hot.
Some people love the heat, because they’re able to swim all day. But for someone like myself, who has an autoimmune disorder in which my body is literally allergic to the heat causing burning pain, rashes and migraines, the heat can be my enemy.
Heat intolerance can also be the enemy for those who suffer from chronic pain. As the heat increases the likelihood of flare-ups also goes up.
So how can we cope if we live in an area prone to extreme weather during the summer months? Brainandspin.org.uk have some tips on coping with heat intolerance in their article, “Heat Sensitivity and Hot Temperatures,” such as keeping your skin clean and moisturized and eating cool foods like salads and fruit which are high in water content.
The description in the Bible verse above almost makes you feel the heat just by reading it. Remember, though, God also cares for you in a land of burning heat. He will give you wisdom and discernment in deciding how best to manage your heat intolerance.
Job 9:25 - My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy.
They say that the older we get the faster time flies.
I’ve had days like that. Sometimes months like that when I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with my hectic life that one day blurs into another.
The story is a bit different for those suffering from chronic pain or a debilitating disease. Everything we do. Everywhere we go. Our pain follows us.
We try to get involved in something; to fill up the time so that we can get through the day as quickly as possible, with hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
But sometimes things don’t get better. They get worse.
It is times like these, when our pain is high, that each moment drags its heels and makes you believe this day will never end.
Yet, maybe it’s those pain-filled days that make us stronger. I know that may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true none the less. And not only do they make us stronger they can help us appreciate things more.
We don’t have a huge deadline looming before us, so we can focus on enjoying the card that someone took the time to write us and not just toss it in the trash. Those in pain save their cards so they can be reminded of the thoughtfulness of others.
And when someone comes knocking on our door, with tears in their eyes from learning some bad health news, we can be a listening ear and answer questions they may have about what they’re facing.
You can become stronger, not weaker because of the path your pain is taking you on.
When the weaker have time stretched out before them, in an unending battle of our wills to keep fighting and not give up, we can remember the ones who are stuck in their cubicles at work. Their days are flying by with hardly a chance to do what they want to do, and they think we’re lucky because we have the time to enjoy a good book or take a short walk.
So, in weakness we can be strong.
In pain we can feel relief.
In sorrow we can find joy.
In days when time seems to drag its heels, we can have time to appreciate our ups and downs, our ins our outs.
No one promised us that living with pain or illness was easy, but we can choose to make the best of what we do have. What we can do is remember those who are on the verge of giving up on life. Maybe they’re the ones in their cubicles at work or maybe they’re the ones waiting for results from another test at the doctor’s office.
We can be the voice of encouragement to a world flying by. And to help you do that read the article, "How to Understand Someone With Chronic pain," on wikihow.com so you can be supportive to those in pain and see that the ideas may also be applied to other relationship issues.
While you watch other people’s lives fly by, it might seem like life is at a standstill when you’re in pain or ill, know that God cares about you and will help you make it through today and always.
Luke 18:27 - Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."
A task lays before you. It seems as if there is no way that it can be done. Your chronic pain or illness makes it seem that way.
After all, how can anyone expect you, in the condition you’re in, to complete it?
It looms in front of you cutting off all light upon your world. You try to move to the left and then the right to go around the impossible, but you can’t seem to be able to move that way. Your neck or back was fused during surgery on a disk, making it impossible.
It looms in front of you. You try to climb over the top of the impossible. Then you try to crawl under it. But neither way can be achieved.
You pull a ladder out of the garage thinking to yourself, “Aha. I’m going to get past you this time you impossible task.” But even after you climb to the top of the ladder on trembling legs, the ladder isn’t tall enough.
You pull a shovel out of the garage this time thinking that you can dig under the impossible and you’ll be able to escape it. But the ground is too hard. Someone poured cement over it.
Is there no hope for you? Yes, there is – You can reach out for help beyond yourself. You can ask a friend to lend their strength, their knowhow, their encouragement, and their courage.
Now, let’s take a look at that impossible task. Whichever way you try, whether around, over the top, or under you’re able to complete it. Piece-by-piece, with someone else there with you, it’s no longer impossible.
Do you ever face what feels like “the impossible”? I think we all do, whether we’re in pain or sick, at one time or another in our lives. Yet, with the person in pain that impossibility lays before us every day. Sometimes every moment.
It doesn’t matter if the task is small or large, “impossible” can describe them both.
Take a look at a few more ways that the impossible can be accomplished, whether you’re sick, hurting or well, from inc.com in their article, “11 Steps to Achieving Impossible Goals.”
Remember, God can use the help of a friend, or any of the ways above to finish your impossible task. You see, God has the power to take apart that “impossible” by removing the “im” and turning it into possible.
Psalm 38:7 - My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
The alarm goes off. You sit up to turn it off and your back roars at you. I did it again. I wasn’t thinking. I’d gotten out of bed incorrectly.
I tried again. This time I swung my legs over the side of the bed as I sat up with the momentum and I made it out of my bed without causing further pain.
But then. My hand reached up to my throat. It burned and every part of me ached. It appeared I also had a stuffed up head.
I couldn’t be getting sick. Pain and sickness may know each other, but I didn’t invite either one to join me that morning.
This story is true for those of us who suffer from chronic pain. Living with pain drains our resources and unfortunately usually our immune system is affected as well.
It’s wise to stay away from people who are ill if at all possible. The risk is simply too high.
When a normal person gets sick, they feel aches all over their bodies. But it’s not accompanied by severe pain. They don’t have that drain that washes chronic pain suffers’ immune system away.
Find some healthy living strategies that may help boost your immune system from health.harvard.edu in their article, “How to Boost Your Immune System Tips to Fight Disease and Strengthen Immunity,” for example take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
Also, many people believe they can take a shortcut by taking supplements that claim to increase your immune system. Be careful. There are those that work, but also those who don’t deliver on what they claim; only seeking your pocketbook and not your health. Some may be very good to take such as a multivitamin. There are also many herbs that work to improve your immune system.
A great choice to make is eating foods that boost your immune system. Checkout the link below and find a list of foods plus how they help.
Finally, as the Bible verse above shows, the Psalmist was in severe pain and found he had no health in his body. Thankfully, he wasn’t going through this dark valley alone. God’s love poured over him like a soothing balm and God is ready to do the same for 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.