Archive | September 2019

Sick & Tired : Chapter 11

“What Next?”

Preparation: Read Chapter Eleven This Week
After reading, consider Kimberly Rae’s offer to join The Unhealthy Club. You will find the link at the end of this lesson.

You will also find information about the next book in the Sick & Tired series.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

Thank you for joining us as we studied SICK & TIRED. We have learned valuable lessons and insights from Kimberly Rae. No one understands living with chronic illness better than another “sickie”. This week, we close our study with some important words from our author:

“Wherever you are on this health-issue journey, I welcome you to the Unhealthy Club with much sympathy, but also with a word of encouragement. You can do this. You’ll have good days and you’ll have bad days. You will struggle with accepting this, and even after you think you have accepted it, you will sometimes find yourself struggling again.”

“So here’s my big advice for this first book in the Sick & Tired series. Give some grace to yourself (let yourself by sick, admit it to others, ask for help), and give some grace to others (let your loved ones grieve as well, or get frustrated sometimes). All the gaps created by your illness…let God fill them up however He sees fit.”

“…You are more than your health problems.
God sees that about you. So do I.

Now go look in the mirror and tell yourself:
You matter.
You are valuable.
Having a health problem has not changed that at all.
You are not alone.”

How to Join the Unhealthy Club

Ever wish there was someplace where you belonged, where you were believed even if you don’t have an official diagnosis, and where you were encouraged by people who actually understand?

We have a group of chronic illness sufferers on Facebook where you can write about your struggles, be encouraged, and encourage others. Come on over to the Facebook Page:
Sick & Tired: Encouragement, Empathy & Practical Help for the Chronically Ill.

What’s Next?

We hope you have enjoyed our Sick & Tired study.
Watch our HOPE FOR THE HURTING website
for future book studies by Kimberly Rae.

The next in the Sick & Tired series is
YOU’RE SICK; THEY’RE NOT
Relationship Help for Chronic Sufferers
and Those Who Love Them.

Topics included:
Chronic Illness Equals Chronic Guilt
Why Did God Do This to My Family?
Chronic Illness and Your Personality Type
Holidays and Other Family Affairs
The People Who Just Don’t Get It
Illness and Your Love Language
Am I Allowed to Be Crabby Today?
What Sick People Wish Healthy People Knew
What Healthy People Wish Sick People Knew

Sick & Tired : Chapter 10

“The Belief Test”

Preparation: Read Chapter Ten This Week
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

This week as I pondered Chapter 10, I thought about lessons we can learn through chronic illness. For we will learn lessons, and they will have positive or negative impact on our lives, depending on how we perceive God’s purpose in our illness. Dealing with new symptoms can feel like pushing heavy boulders uphill, when our energy is already depleted. It’s tempting to become discouraged, and to doubt God’s love and purpose in bouts of pain and suffering.

I read a great article by Focus on the Family, called “When We Suffer:A Biblical Perspective on Chronic Pain and Illness”.

The author, Mary J. Yerkes, states,
“Why we suffer may always remain a mystery on this side of eternity.
We can, however, glean certain truths from God’s Word.
– Suffering produces intimacy with God (Job 42:5).
– Suffering equips us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
– Suffering refines us.
– Suffering produces growth and maturity (James 1:2-4)
– Suffering conforms us into God’s image (Romans 8:28-29)

Kimberly Rae made additional observations in SICK & TIRED. She shared her dilemma when an MRI exposed a cyst in her brain, after she had already been diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses. Here are some of Kimberly’s words:

“This latest health crisis was a gift, wrapped up in a test. Not a test by a hard taskmaster who wanted me to fail, but a loving Teacher, who wanted to show me not only where I am strong, but where I am weak; and in that weakness, to show His perfect strength.”

“Here are four things I believe: God is good. God loves me. God could eliminate this problem at any moment and, therefore, because He has not, He has a reason. God will do what is best.”

“Here’s why I think chronic physical difficulties can be gifts from God:
1. They remind us our lives and our bodies are not really our own.
2. They remind us not to take life for granted. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow.
3. They keep us humble, as we have to ask for help and support from others.
4. They remind us of our need for God’s daily help and presence.
5. They remind us every breath, every beat of the heart, every part of the body that is working, is a constant gift from God.
6. They teach us to accept that we can’t fix everything, and that’s okay.
7. They force us to have courage, to face our fears, to accept what we cannot change, because if we could, we would.
8. They force us to prioritize what matters most, because we physically cannot maintain lives filled with extra things.”

Have you ever thought of your chronic illness as a gift wrapped up in a test? I don’t think I have thought of MS in precisely that way, but nearly 40 years of living with MS have proven that it has, indeed, been a gift in many ways.

How about you? Can you see ways in which your chronic illness can be called a gift? Share your thoughts with us as you respond to our group study questions.

Group Study Questions:

1. What has been your biggest disappointment regarding your illness so far?


2. Do you feel like this illness is (mark as many as you feel are true):
– Your own fault? If I’d only…
– Someone else’s fault? Doctor, negligent family, etc.
– God’s fault? If He really loved me…
– God is punishing you for something?
– God has forgotten about you or doesn’t care about you?
– God didn’t give this, but He has allowed it for some reason?
– God wants to use it for something good?


3. Do you believe God is good and He loves you? Why or why not?


4. Do you believe God could take away your condition if He wanted to, so since He hasn’t there must be a reason?


5. Do you feel it’s unfair for you not to be informed of what that reason is?

Activity:

Read through the eight reasons the author thinks chronic physical difficulties can be gifts from God. Highlight the ones you agree with. Underline the ones you don’t. Then show the page to a friend, or God, and ask what they think about the underlined ones. Could there be truth you are missing?

This entry was posted on September 16, 2019. 1 Comment

Sick & Tired : Chapter 9

“Who Am I Now?”

Preparation: Read Chapter Nine This Week
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

This week’s lesson will speak to all of us who have been profoundly changed by chronic illness. Today I read a great article called Six Ways in Which Chronic Illness Changes Your Body Image. The author of the article, Jenna Downes, lives with Chrohn’s Disease. She maintains that long-term disease can completely change the way we see our body. I could certainly identify with her points. (My responses are in parentheses.)

1. Style goes out of the window.
(I can no longer wear fashionable shoes, for example.
I live in Clarks clogs and sandals.)
2. You stop thinking about the aesthetics.
(It’s way too much trouble to bother with mascara,
when I stay home most of the time.)
3. We can’t trust our bodies.
(Just when some important activity is scheduled,
my body decides it’s time for a MS relapse.)
4. You up your supplement game.
(Truth. I’m now allergic to 23 prescription meds,
so I look for natural alternatives to deal with symptoms.)
5. The way you see food totally changes.
(It’s not easy to live with no sugar, no dairy, and no gluten.)
6. You celebrate the good times.
(It’s important to enjoy the good days.
I just have to be aware that too much activity can cause another relapse.)

Just a few months ago I made the comment that I don’t even look like myself anymore. Almost forty years of unrelenting MS fatigue and physical decline have changed my appearance, my self-image, my clothing style, my activities, my self-confidence, my social life, my ministry service, my housekeeping, my diet, my daily schedules, and even my speech and handwriting.

Author Kimberly Rae speaks to these issues. She lives with 6 health conditions: Addison’s, Hypoglycemia, Asthma, Scoliosis, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Chiari Malformation. Here are some of Kimberly’s thoughts about how chronic illness changes us:

“How is it possible that health problems could not only change my body so much, but my personality and preferences too?…Even my mind has changed, because what used to be fun now has such unpleasant ramifications, those things don’t appeal to me anymore.”

“Even though I change, God does not. My identity is not in who I was or who I am, but in who God declares me to be. And when He declared me worth dying for, He did that knowing every stage of me – the healthy and the unhealthy. My worth to Him has not changed.”

“We have been ushered into a new world where so many things are unfamiliar. And change is scary. But even if everything changes, God has not changed, and He will equip this new you just as He equipped and helped the you that you used to be.”

So how do we respond to these changes? Share your thoughts with us as you respond to our group study questions.

Group Study Questions

1. What has had to change about you because of your illness?


2. Do you feel like a stranger to yourself because of the changes that have come from having an illness?


3. What do you miss about who you used to be or what you used to be able to do?


4. Before, when you were healthy, did you ever dedicate yourself – your life and your body – to God, for whatever purpose He had for you?


5. Do you believe God could have a purpose for your life still, even in your illness?

Activity

Either alone or before witnesses, dedicate your life – the life you have now, who you are right now – to God for whatever His purpose is. Verbally accept that God has allowed even this illness in your life, so He will work it for good.

This entry was posted on September 9, 2019. 1 Comment

Sick & Tired : Chapter 8

“The High Cost of Going…Anywhere”

Preparation: Read Chapter Eight This Week
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

One of the most common side effects of chronic illness is isolation. In my own life with Multiple Sclerosis, I have found that I isolate myself more and more as my disease progresses. It’s not because I want to avoid people, or that I no longer enjoy activities. The key reason is the enormous energy cost of leaving my home for any activity.

For example, a simple 20 minute medical appointment only 3 miles from my home involves some major planning and physical costs. I try to schedule all my appointments in the early afternoon, because mornings are hard. I have to drag my achy body from my LaZBoy power recliner where I have to sleep, because constant muscle spasms require me to frequently change position during the night. I awake with my low back and my lower legs in spasm. It takes at least an hour to put on very simple makeup, and to dress in jeans and a button-up shirt. During that hour I have to use the restroom at least twice. After making myself eat food that I don’t really taste, I am ready to start my morning.

To prepare for the appointment, I need to make sure I have extra bladder control pads in my bag, my medical bracelet on my wrist, a bottle of water because my medications make my mouth dry, a small flashlight in case I am in a shadowed area where my low vision is problematic, a folding fan in case I get overheated, two pairs of eyeglasses for my double vision (one for reading and one for driving). I need my arm crutch to walk to my car, and my scooter to ride into the medical building after I find a handicap parking place. I will have to enter and exit the elevator, and then check in at the desk. After climbing up on the exam table, answering all the questions that require concentration through my brain fog, I then have to do all the above activities in reverse. Oh, I forgot. I will also probably have to find a restroom at the medical building before and after the doctor visit. When I arrive home, exhausted, I need to rest. Heat exacerbates MS symptoms, so if the appointment is in the Summer, all symptoms are heightened.

All that for a local appointment. It’s even harder if a special family event is across town. The 45 minute drive may require a restroom stop, and depending on the notorious Indianapolis traffic, it could take up to twice as long. I want to interact with everyone, and enjoy the food and company for several hours. It may take me days to recover. I have to plan ahead. I have learned that I may be able to do two, possibly three, trips away from my home each week. Sometimes I don’t leave my home for two to three weeks at a time.

How about you? Do you have to plan your calendar around your chronic illness symptoms? I think we all understand Kimberly Rae’s comments below:

“It’s annoying to do all you have to do to get out there into the world and be with people, and sometimes it doesn’t feel worth the effort.”

“Part of the problem is risk. What if we have a flare-up at someone else’s house? What if we commit to some event and end up falling apart right in front of everyone?”

“What’s my point? We have a choice to make on how much we will avoid in order to make life safer or easier for ourselves. it is definitely wise not to overdo it just to prove we’re not really sick after all. We are sick, so it’s silly trying to prove we aren’t, however, we shouldn’t decide to avoid everything simply because it’s too much trouble, or it feels too risky.”

“We sick people can’t live spontaneously, that’s for sure. We have to plan ahead for a lifestyle that fits within our limitations, and then prepare fully to have all the stuff we need to live that life, complete with a few just-in-case additions.”

Tell us how you cope with going out. Can you really have a spontaneous activity without cost in terms of chronic illness symptoms?

Group Study Questions:

1. Do you get frustrated at the lack of spontaneity in your life now that you have a chronic illness?


2. Which settings are most difficult for you?


3. Are there fun settings where you can enjoy yourself despite your illness?


4. Can you shift your schedule to do less of the difficult and more of the fun?

Activity:

Write a list of what you need to bring for certain activities. If you have different needs for different types of activities, write one list for each. Keep the lists available so you don’t have to think through what you need every time an activity comes up.

This entry was posted on September 2, 2019. 1 Comment