Psalm 3:5 - I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
When a child is a baby or toddler, they take naps throughout the day. They tire easily, and require that extra sleep.
When a child goes off to school, they still may require a nap during preschool and kindergarten. But once a child grows up, and is in school for the day, naptime usually disappears unless they’ve had a very full day.
As a parent, you don’t think much about your child taking a nap. It’s just what they do. They run full speed ahead and then crash and burn. No one would chastise a child for needing some down time, but if you’re an adult, a nap can seem out of the ordinary.
For those of us who suffer from a chronic health condition, especially chronic pain, a nap isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s required. It doesn’t matter if we’ve spent the day at home or have been running around most of the day, because when we enter the afternoon hours, our bodies beckon us to rest. I need that nap to survive the day.
I’ve been made fun of more times than I can count because I take a nap. But if I don’t listen to my body and rest, I can’t make it through the day. Not physically and not emotionally. I come to the point of tears when exhaustion hits, because I’ve listened more to others’ criticisms than to what my body is trying to tell me what I need.
In addition, those of us who struggle to make it through the day can be found preparing for bed earlier than most. This, too, can make other people frustrated with us especially if we’re in the middle of a social function, or simply watching a movie together on the couch. But my body has a rhythm that beats to the drum of my pain, and it requires me to turn off the music and listen to the silence.
Is taking a nap during the day such a bad idea even for people who are healthy? According to mayoclinic.org in their article, “Napping: Do’s and Don’ts for Healthy Adults,” there are benefits from napping such as quicker reaction time and memory. The article also discusses what the drawbacks of napping are, and when you should consider taking a nap.
So you see, taking a nap to survive the day isn’t something to make fun of another person for. They just might need that nap, and even the Lord sustains us when we sleep. He understands why we need a nap and will awaken us with renewed energy. Go ahead and take that nap, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
Psalm 38:7 - My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
It’s the beginning of a new year.
To most people going back to their normal routine may be a bit sluggish at first, but for the most part they slip back in with no trouble.
But for the person who battles pain, the idea of starting another year with chronic pain can bring out negative, hopeless emotions.
You start in denial, saying to yourself that you aren’t going to suffer this year, even though your doctor warned you that your back is much worse and to be ready for an increase in your pain level. “Maybe he can help me make it all go away,” you say to yourself. Or maybe you don’t even go to the doctor, and try to pretend you’re like everyone else.
After denial has spent its last breath, you move on into anger. “Why do I have to suffer another year? It’s not fair!” You want to stomp your feet, throw a few things around and punch a hole in the wall. But you can’t. That would hurt. So your anger burns stronger.
When all your anger energy has been blown out, you move on into bargaining. You tell your doctor, “I promise I’ll take it easy this year. I promise I won’t try to do something that may cause me to hurt myself. I promise, I promise, I promise.” But no amount of bargaining or promising to your doctor that you’ll try harder will help; you still are facing another year in chronic pain.
After you’ve run out of bargaining chips, you move on into depression. You’ve lost your hope. You’ve spent all your energy. You’ve got nothing left that was part of your old life. Your family tries to lift your spirits. Your friends stop by with a sampling of new recipes they’ve tried. And then, you simply don’t care anymore. “Is there a way to make this all go away?” you ask yourself. And there is.
It’s time to move on into acceptance. “No!” you shout. “I won’t accept this! I can’t accept that I have to suffer in pain for another year.” Yet if you really want to help yourself, then accepting your situation is the only way to make life doable.
Painnewsnetwork.org posts the article, “Accepting Chronic Pain: Is it Necessary?” in which it states accepting chronic pain doesn’t mean giving into it and it doesn’t mean that you stop looking for treatment. They also discuss what accepting chronic pain does mean such as learning to live again.
Beginning to understand, accepting the chronic pain you face, can help open the door for you this next year to the possibilities of finding joy again. There may be searing pain and no health, or limited health, in your body, yet your spirit can be filled with life and hope again.
Exodus 18:17-18 - Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."
Christmas is almost upon us. All of the shopping and cooking can feel like a giant wave catching up with us, and washing us into a storm of activities.
It’s fun to attend parties and looking for just the right gift for someone. But for someone with a chronic health condition, you can’t keep up with all that is in front of you.
So you set a magic hat in front of you and reach inside to find reasons why you can’t do these things even though other people think you’re just making excuses. Your, “No,” is unacceptable to them. After all, Christmas only happens once a year.
So you change your clothes, put on a happy face and head out the door to go shopping or attend a party.
But what’s the result?
Your chronic illness takes stage front and everyone sees you sinking into a couch with pain written across your face.
There has to be a better way. How do you enjoy the holiday season when you have chronic pain? Nationalpainreport.com posts the article, “15 Tips for Surviving the Holidays with Chronic Illness.” The article suggests only scheduling one thing a day. This way you won’t overdue yourself. Also, go potluck and opt for convenience by using premade items for holiday meals.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. Moses was trying to judge every decision the Israelites came to him for. He was way over his head trying to fit everything into one day. When his father-in-law came for a visit, he saw all that Moses was doing and said that it wasn’t good. Moses listened to the advice and appointed leaders who could settle the smaller disputes and the people saved the large ones to bring to Moses.
During the holiday season we can all find ourselves swept up into the waves of all the things that “need” to be done. But that’s not healthy for anyone, especially for those with chronic health conditions. Don’t be afraid to say no to the many activities available and don’t be afraid to ask for help, like Moses did, when you need it. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the season instead of dreading it.
Isaiah 40:29 - He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
During the last few weeks, since a wildfire consumed my mother’s home and community, it has felt as if my mother and our family have been running a marathon.
If you’ve never gone through a wildfire or other natural disaster then it may be difficult for you to understand what someone goes through.
My mother is more fortunate than others, because she has family to help her through it. And though we are ever grateful that she survived the wildfire, there has been an endless trail of paperwork to be completed for the insurance claim as well as applying for FEMA.
There has been canceling utilities and cable companies, changing her address to a P.O. Box and many other things which have to be taken care of. Just as she completed one part of the process another series of situations faced us.
It has been one thing after another and through it all, one thing surfaced: Exhaustion. Deep into your bones painful exhaustion.
My mom has been brave, but just as anyone who has survived a disaster would tell you, being on the edge of your seat in constant motion not only affects you emotionally but causes chronic health conditions to worsen.
In the midst of trying to complete all of the tasks required of the trauma victim, it’s important for them to take care of themselves. So how do we do that? Helpquide.org in their article, “Traumatic Stress – Dealing With Trauma After a Disaster or Disturbing Event,” provides traumatic stress signs and symptoms as well as suggestions on how to deal with it. Some of their ideas include realizing there’s no right or wrong way of dealing with it, avoiding obsessively reliving the event and reestablishing a new routine.
Though the life a trauma victim lived no longer exists, it is possible to create a new life and heal from the pain that was suffered. God is close by, also. Just as the Bible verse above says, he gives strength and increases the power of the weary and weak. He will also give them the wisdom they need to complete the tasks set before them. And remember, if you know someone who is a recent trauma victim; lend a helping hand and a listening ear. Healing and relief from exhaustion comes when we look out for each other.
Luke 18:16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
I’ve written in the past about chronic pain and raising a child, but what about the other way around – raising a child with a chronic health condition.
The tables are turned.
Our hearts are a tangled mess of emotional pain.
We want to do something.
To help our child heal.
But sometimes, we have to watch them suffer.
Having children is one of the greatest blessings in this life. It’s a chance to bring up out of you the love that’s been stored for years, and take a watering can and pour that love into a little life.
It’s fun to laugh together.
It’s fun to play together.
It’s fun to try new foods and watch the baby make funny faces.
It’s fun to hold them tight.
And fun to let them go as they swoosh down a slide at the playground.
But when your child suffers:
There’s not much to laugh together about
But much to cry together about.
There’s not much strength for your child to play
And many things they can no longer do.
There’s not much fun in trying new foods
And not much they will eat at all.
There’s not much of an opportunity to take them to the playground
And not much to help them find joy in.
But there are many times to hold your child
And many times to give them your comfort and love.
Yet still, no matter how much you hold or love your child
There’s not much time left to do so if your child may die any day.
Life has to be lived differently if you have a child who is sick or in pain all of the time. But if you dig deeply, and I know you will because you love your child, there are ways that you can help your child do more than just push through another day.
Take a look at the article, “Children With Chronic Pain,” on psychologytoday.com. A couple of things that the article discusses are the need to acknowledge the difficulties when they are pulled in to be their child’s advocate looking out for their care while all the time the parent is facing their own fears, grief, anger and powerlessness. Also, with all the time and energy that a parent is called upon when their child is in pain they must try to stop focusing so much on the illness because they may forget to see their child.
It takes much time and energy to raise a child with a chronic health condition. But take a look at the Bible verse above. Jesus called all of the children to come to him. And there probably were those among the children who were sick or in pain, and he blessed and held them all. He didn’t forget them. He didn’t stop them from coming. Jesus will do the same thing for your child. He will pick them up and carry them in his arms. Jesus knows you, the parent; as well and how hard life is for you. He is ready to give you the strength you need for each day and for extra love to pour into your child’s life.
Psalm 18:6 – In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
For years you’ve suffered with chronic pain and with several illnesses.
That after years of being on medications, they take a toll on your body.
The liver has many jobs to perform but it’s basic jobs include filtering blood coming from the digestive tract before it passes to the rest of the body, detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs, and producing bile which ends up back in the intestines.
You can see that each prescription and supplement that you put into your body goes through the liver. This means that the more drugs that you consume the greater the chance for liver disease and liver failure.
In addition, there are liver diseases that also compromise your liver. Medlineplus.gov lists in their article, “Liver Diseases,” liver diseases including hepatitis A, B, and C; diseases caused by drugs, poisons, or too much alcohol such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. For the complete list visit the websites pertaining to liver disease on medlineplus.gov.
You may think that liver failure isn’t that common, but it is. I currently I have three friends who are on the edge of a liver shutdown.
Let’s take a look at some of the signs of liver failure so that you don’t miss the signs of liver failure, and lower your risk of developing liver disease. Mayoclinic.org posts the article, “Acute Liver Failure,” and lists the symptoms some of which are pain in your upper right abdomen, abdominal swelling and disorientation or confusion. The article also discusses ways to help prevent liver failure include following the exact instructions that you receive with a medication and researching the risks of supplements and over the counter medications and know that you should only take the correct amount; in addition, you need to take care when using aerosol sprays as in cleaning agents and use of pesticides.
Though someone you know or even if it is yourself, is trapped in the grasp of liver failure, know that just as the Bible verse above says your cries for help are heard. God sees your distress and how sick you are. It may seem like nothing is going to change. However, there are treatments for the liver, and though it may be difficult to get one, there are also liver transplants available. God will walk with you through all of it. His ear will always be turned toward your voice.
Deuteronomy 32:10 - In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.
We feel guilty about too many things.
Often that guilt revolves around our health. Whether it be chronic pain or an illness guilt can fall on us when most of our day is centered around taking care of ourselves. It is not a bad thing to do things that can lift pain off our body. But sometimes we still feel guilty.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
We try to plea our case and explain that it’s not our fault that we can’t do more. But the gavel comes down in the hands of the judge as he pronounces the verdict.
Failure. Cry baby. Lazy. And the list goes on.
We do cry.
We do feel like a failure.
We do feel lazy.
But it’s not our fault that we have a chronic health condition. And sometimes our lives are simply out of our control.
Yet, remember: We are not God. The world doesn’t revolve around us. Not everything we do is wrong. We are capable of winning many battles even if no one sees them.
Sometimes, though, when we are labeled with a chronic condition it can often feel like somehow it’s our fault. Somewhere along the way we’re being punished for what we’ve done, or better put, what we haven’t done.
Listen to me, we do work and work hard. We aren’t lazy. It just takes more effort and time for us to get something done than it does for a healthy person. And sometimes, all we have strength for is just to get through the day taking care of ourselves. That’s not a bad thing.
It takes great courage for us to get out of bed each morning. We don’t want to face another day in sickness and pain. But still somehow we ease ourselves out of bed and move into our day.
If any of what I’m writing applies to you then listen carefully:
So if taking care of ourselves is our job, are there things we can do to take care of ourselves that we might be neglecting? Tinybuddha.com in their article, “45 Simple Self-care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul,” provides ideas to take care of yourself that addresses the mind, body and soul. Some of their suggestions include realizing self-care isn’t a one-time deal, go cloud watching and let yourself relax, get fifteen minutes of sun, and splurge a little by buying a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.
Treating yourself kindly isn’t just something that another person came up with. God values you as the apple of his eye. You’re the center of his focus and love, and as such he will plant seeds of kindness into your very being. Let his love show you the way to stop feeling guilty for taking care of yourself, and let the self-care begin.
Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
This next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day. And even though it is the day we set aside each year to think about what we’re grateful for, many of us have feel anything but being grateful.
I’m speaking to those of us who each day suffer with a chronic health condition. What can we possibly be thankful for when our lives are filled with pain and sickness?
But we can choose to look at life differently and with gratitude.
Yes, no one enjoys living with a chronic health condition, but we have just as much, and even more, to be grateful for. For those of us who suffer, finding something to be grateful for can seem out of reach. But there always is at least one small thing that we can and should be thankful for.
You may feel like you don’t even know where to begin to change your way of thinking, take a look at the article on takingcharge.csh.umn.edu, “10 Ways to be a More Thankful Person.” The article shows how feeling thankful can improve our health with the examples of as developing the habit of thanking yourself as you develop healthy habits, and savoring the good moments by stopping a few minutes to focus on the thing we can be grateful for so that when things are tough you have the memory to call to mind.
Things aren’t always going to head in the right direction. You will experience pain and suffering caused by your chronic health condition. But you don’t need to add negative feelings into the mix. It can add more sorrow than you need to carry. Yet, as you’ve seen in the article above, you can find something to be grateful for even when you’re suffering.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. It says to not be anxious about anything. It seems like an impossible task when all we can see is our life tumbling out of control with no way to stop it. But there is something we can do. We can pray. And as we pray we aren’t to just ask for our needs, but to tell God how grateful we are that we’re not in this alone. Remember that this coming week. Be thankful in all things.
Genesis 2:7 - Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Every day we take for granted a gift.
What is the gift? Our breath.
Each day we breathe hundreds of times, yet how often do we appreciate the gift of our next breath? It’s part of our autonomic nervous system. Each breath is created without our effort, though when it becomes difficult to breathe nothing we do seems to bring it back.
It is important that if you are having difficulty breathing to go to an emergency room or dial 911. The suggestions in this post are to stop an asthma attack when it isn’t at the stage of urgent care.
It’s important to first know the symptoms of an asthma attack. Healthline.com, in their article, “What do You Want to Know About Asthma?” lists some of the symptoms including coughing, wheezing, tightness in chest, shortness of breath and fatigue. It also lists asthma triggers.
We’ve looked at some ways that we try to get our breath back including using an inhaler, but let’s take a look at some other ways to stop an asthma attack from escalating also on healthline.com, in the same article. Their suggestions include breathing exercises, rescue or first aid treatments, medications and home remedies.
Chronic asthma can literally squeeze the life out of us. It can feel like you’re trying to breathe under water. But with the proper knowledge on how to treat the problem while being under a doctor’s care, we can get back some of our normal activities even though we do have asthma.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. God made man and woman, but they didn’t exist until God breathed into them and they became a living being. So you can see, God wants us to put our breathing high on his priority list, and so should we. And, when you take your next breath make sure to be thankful that you can.
Psalm 127:1 - A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
Up on a hill sat an old house. It’s windows had dark blue shutters and blue trim on the windowsills. There was a dark teal door with several dead bolts and chain sliders to bolt it shut. It took four steps to reach that door, open it and walk inside.
Looking around inside, you saw that the living room had recently been remodeled with light brown planking making up the floor. At first glance, it seemed to fill each room with its vertical strips. But there was a room at the end of the hall that still had old fashioned dark orange carpet. You may have wondered why this room was different than the rest, but you decided to continue your tour of the house.
There was a stairway that led to the upper floor of the house. Each room had a different theme such as the bathroom had seashells in glass containers on the sink top and seashell patterned shower curtain and towels.
Another room was all dressed up in rose colored walls and matching sheets. You went from room to room and decided that the house had another room added recently. It was evidenced by green paint only covering part of the room and planking hadn’t been completed yet.
You wondered how a room could be added on a second floor, but you decided not to give it another thought and decided to do more exploring downstairs.
There were rooms that had been created by simply putting up dividing walls or adding them on to the house by way of a new section of foundation which had been laid each time the owner wanted a new room.
But there was no more room on the land to add another room either downstairs or upstairs, yet a blueprint of the house was stretched across the kitchen table as if there might be a way to somehow get away with more construction.
Our bodies are like that house - under construction with new rooms added. But sometimes those additions consist only of illness and chronic pain rooms. One step at a time another room is built even if there can’t possibly be any room for it.
Yet, it happens anyway. We find ourselves at the doctor’s office not with a blueprint stretched across a kitchen table, but with x-rays and lab reports waiting to be reviewed.
We don’t want to add another room. We can’t add another room. Why does there have to be another room? But we sit quietly as the doctor explains what kind of affect another room is going to have on our quality of life. We try to argue that there can’t possibly be one more thing wrong with us. The doctor sighs and looks at us with those sympathetic eyes, and we know life is going to change yet again.
But a changing life doesn’t mean that it has to become out of control. Take a look at the article, “Steps to Help You Better Manage Multiple Chronic Medical Conditions,” on pinnaclecare.com. The article contains suggestions that may help you feel more in control such as coordinating care and medical records among all your physicians. This way you’ll get the benefit of medical recommendations forming a more comprehensive plan of treatment and lower your risk of medical errors. Another helpful suggestion is to understand your conditions and treatment options.
Finding that your medical health home needs an additional room doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With tips from the article above you’ll be able to get that plank flooring down in time for the completion of this new construction so that you’ll be ready to move into it when you need it the most.
Also, if you allow God to be the one who coordinates not just your medical care but your life as a whole, you won’t have to do the building alone thus avoiding the builder's (doctor's) labor isn’t in vain.
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.