Currently Browsing: Chronic Pain

What to do when “To-Do” becomes “Undone”

IMG_2319-0.PNGToday I am sharing what I have learned and am still learning about practicing peace with the unfinished.
It boils down to realizing that I, myself am unfinished. It is amazing to me how a new attitude can change frustration into forgiveness and disappointment into acceptance of what was just not to be. Frenzied fervor which has whipped me up into a tornado of inefficient, disorganized activities can intentionally be reformed into a planned strategy of purposefully taking whatever comes next, doing my best and realizing that is ALL I can do. If something remains undone I will assess it factually and without guilt. What can I learn in the failure?

If only I had all the energy, strength and time to fulfill ALL the things that I’d like to do. When I was younger I did not have so many considerations; I just thought of something and did it.
However, as age, injuries, obligations and wisdom have hammered on me a bit, I now have to intentionally consider the steps that I take.

The fact is:
I will NEVER have enough time to do ALL the things that:
• I NEED to do,
let alone all those that
• others EXPECT me to do, or
• even those I WANT to do (pleasure, leisure, vacations & hobbies).

As time marches on, seemingly faster and faster like a downhill snow boulder, I have been plagued by all the “should’a, would’a, could’a” done things.

I have felt the pain of failure so many times. The perceived guilt I’ve felt of letting others down by not completing a task may not have been the case at all, as I learned when I honestly analyzed later. I discovered it wasn’t that important to them. It was only a big deal because I “thought” it was a big deal. A part of me believes that a person thinks less of me because I have disappointed them. To look at that honestly, I had taken the focus off of the joys of doing something to help others and perverted it with misconceptions as to what they would think about me?! Yikes!

I think there is a tendency for some people to lean more toward the people-pleasing side of social interactions. On the opposite side of that pendulum swing is that “I really don’t care what anyone thinks of me” attitude. Of the two sides I definitely lean more toward the former.

As I realign myself with the teachings of God’s Word found in the Bible and taught in wonderful church sermons and small group studies, I have learned a far better way that brings sharper focus and overwhelming peace…God’s way is the best way.
My Type-A, driven personality makes sure that the most critical person of what I do or don’t get done is ME! So my natural bent is to be very hard on myself. I used to reason that as long as I demand perfection from myself no one else will be hurt or hurt me. Nope. It’s still sin. I was still putting my own demands above everyone else’s…most especially God’s. But God is working on me to transform my thoughts and actions. He is ingraining the thought that I am not good or bad because of what I DO. Rather I am only good because of what Christ did. It’s not about me or what I do or do not do.

As a reasonably intelligent person, I try to avoid unnecessary pain and learn from my mistakes. This life lesson is obviously still underway, yet I am making progress.

Due to chronic and unpredictable physical challenges I have incomplete “to-do” lists that have items that have moved forward to the next list so many times that I should have them pre-printed on the pad of lists. Obviously, I have to approach my disappointments of undone projects in a new way.

It saddens me to have such great intentions and then not be able to complete that task to the degree I had planned. Therefore, I am trying to be more thoughtful about the tasks that I accept or add to my To-Do List.

Here is my suggestion for dealing with the perpetual to-do list. I ask myself this basic analytical question:

“is this really something I should do?”

Let’s look at that question a keyword at a time.

◽️Really — I need to tell myself the truth! Maybe a reassessment is in order. Maybe circumstances have changed and so should my list. This is especially true if we tend to have a hard time saying “no” to others or get easily diverted by creativity ideas popping into our head that we want to add to our lists. If there are too many demands, we have to intentionally postpone items or even eliminate some from our agenda. There are always more tasks than time to complete them.

How many times have we thought we could do something that later turned out to be so much more difficult than we had first thought?! How many times have we regretted agreeing to take on something without thinking it through first? This is a lesson that one either learns from or repeats often, isn’t it?

We have to say “no” sometimes.

And for me at least, I need to remember that I am NOT a bad person just because I said “no” to one thing (even in helping others). You see, in saying “no” to even some good things, it frees me up to say “yes” to even better things.

◽️SOMETHING — Is this the “right” thing? Is this a “need, an “expectation” or a “want”? What’s the priority? Is it in the right order or does order even matter (just do it)? Is this a task that has smaller steps that are required or easier to complete or require more assets than I first thought?

⚠️Warning: As much as helping others is beneficial and nobel, if we neglect meeting our core needs (self, God, spouse & family) we will have less to give. Then we may suffer frustration, loss of joy and even dread of becoming involved in other lives and activities.

🚨Not all thinking of ourselves first is “selfishness”; sometimes it is necessary self-care!

✈️ It’s like that famous statement given during every pre-flight safety training: “in the event of a sudden decompression of the cabin, oxygen masks will automatically fall down from the ceiling. Grab the mask firmly. Jerk down firmly to start the airflow through the tubing. Place the mask ON YOUR OWN FACE FIRST before helping to place a mask on your children or others.”

☑️Each and every step in that check list is important. If you just notice the mask but don’t grab it and jerk it and apply it to your own face, it will be of absolutely no use to you. . . And you will be of no use to anyone else!

If you pass out due to lack of oxygen you are suffering and will not even be able to help others. But, if you take care of yourself first, then you are equipped with what you need to help others.

◽️I — Am I the one who needs to do it? Am I the right person for the job? Is someone else better equipped to complete the task? Why should I go around in circles trying to perform something that I have neither the knowledge, physical ability or resources to complete in a timely fashion.

There are times when improper assignment of a task or changes in circumstances meeting the challenges gets overwhelming. How many of us enjoy the spinning beach ball or blank blue screen or all those error codes when the computer interrupts our productivity? I don’t know about you, but there are few greater prompts for turning to prayer. I am stopped…by a solid block wall of inability! I have been forced to address such emergencies when I am not well equipped to do so. I HAD to learn enough to get through or avoiding an emergency. However, I will plan on hiring a computer geek to thoroughly work on my computer. They can do it in a fraction of the time and with great skills that I do not possess nor have the time or desire to learn. This is an example of smart re-delegation; NOT me, but someone else gets this one.

◽️SHOULD❓Is it a true, right, useful, excellent idea or activity? Is this the best use of time, money and materials? Not that it is just a GOOD use of time (assets), but the BEST use of time (assets). Why am I doing this? I need to examine my motivation in even doing this. Are my motives self-serving, altruistic, or am I manipulating a situation or what others may or may not think of me? Does this solve a problem or create more? Am I progressing in my goals and in line with God’s will or what I value. Pursue the most excellent to accomplish those things that last. Oooh 😯

◽️DO — This refers to the specifics of actually doing something. When does it need to be done? Is there a deadline or a certain order in completing? How much time needs to be scheduled to complete and process? Too often we forget to include the time and resources involved in: gathering the needed tools & parts, set-up and clean-up or allowing for processes that require additional time (measuring, chopping, cutting, paint drying, food baking or cooking, etc).

The location is important because it has to consider size of work area, climate, access to tools and availability.

No matter what, the degree of effort that I place in doing my very best at a job — the quality of work — is far more important than the quantity. I have needed to remind myself of this often. It’s not how many things that I get done, rather, it’s the quality of the work that I do that really matters. My character is displayed not only in what I have done, but also in what I have not done as well as my attitude about what I do or do not do.

I can only hope that my sharing these thoughts and hints on handling the undone perpetual to-do list will be of use to you.

For those of you who, like myself, face even harder times managing because of unpredictable health challenges, I pray this has encouraged you to show yourself grace. Be kinder to yourself. Do what you can, take breaks often, and celebrate the accomplishment of even the littlest of steps.

It is said that life is about climbing the mountain getting ever higher. If one tries to look at the top of the mountain from it’s base, he likely will not even see its peak which has perforated the clouds. One could become discouraged and give up trying. But I encourage you dear friend…take a step. I don’t care if it is a long on or short one, fast or slow. Just take a step! Now you are that much closer to the top.

One person’s trek down the hall a few steps to the bathroom may be equivalent to another’s marathon in terms if effort and energy drain. So comparing our journey to another’s may be grossly unfair. So stop comparing your accomplishments to others. Instead, truthfully assess your own self in relation to the load that you yourself bear. Now, take that next step!!!

No matter what any other person says or does . . . NO ONE (including you) can ask for anything more than your best!

So, at the end of the day, if you are looking at an unchecked box or more on your To-Do list …so what? Did you do your best? If you did – then rejoice in what you’ve done; no matter how small, celebrate the victory. If you did not – then ask yourself what you can learn in the truthful analysis of the unchecked box…”is this really something I should do?”

By living this way, there is peace:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”
Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

A Good Playdough Day

IMG_4831.JPG
To those who know about the unpredictability of autoimmune diseases, it comes as no surprise that there are days that I have deemed as “Frisbee Squirrel” days. Those days when all previously made plans must be set aside to deal with a body in non-compliance. When the weight of one’s extremities add boat anchors to the weight of the torso sinking into the mattress, it requires major effort to move. Getting upright to walk a few yards to the toilet and back is akin to executing a marathon. Although, praise the Lord, these days are fewer than past years, I do occasionally get side-lined. Today was just such a day.

I had great plans of getting some painting done on a big set project that has a hard deadline. I did prep work yesterday, so I was ready to execute some productivity today. Awwwwk [buzzer sound]…not gonna happen!

Exactly one day after proclaiming that I do trust that God is in charge of everything in my life…And that ALL of it is for my good and His glory…And that I can actually rejoice in trials because of the fact that God uses trials to make me more like Jesus; here I am “grounded” so to speak. My bones have all the strength of a pile of dust. I am fighting to keep my eyes open and my thoughts of the simplest task in a straight line.

It became obvious that I was forced to resign myself to another lost day. The cold, rainy day outside was adding to the gloom that wanted to throw a big pitty-party to the frisbee squirrel who was of no use. However, God was gracious to me!! Let me tell you how.

Last night’s growth group study, focussing on the Bible book of Ephesians, dealt with God’s gifting each of us with what we need to help grow ourselves & others up in Christlikeness. A godly advisor & another friend each independently spoke of being happy for trials. In my morning Bible reading God’s Word reminded me that God is the strength of my heart. In the midday, I received an unexpected facebook tagging of a very good article about Women’s ministry being more than just casseroles or being a Proverbs 31 woman. And finally, my handheld device allowed me, even while too weak to get out of bed, to follow-up on people who are seeking help with Foreign Accent Syndrome.

That series of events helped me quickly shift off of the feelings of defeat to the intentional pursuit of just doing something…any little thing…that I can do.

As a result, today I was blessed to be able to bring great relief and comfort to two souls that are literally in different parts of the world from me, and each other. Yet all three of us know the pain, suffering & loneliness associated with having such a rare condition as Foreign Accent Syndrome. The difference is, I know how to use social media and the world-wide web to reach out to find those who are not getting properly diagnosed or help in the ignorant or uninformed medical community. I have been blessed to be able to speak with many different people about many different things in straightforward and understanding manner. I care for others and they sense that early on. God allows me to be comfort and His love for them.

It is so humbling to realize that God actually uses ME!
God actually uses me, at my absolute lowest of strength and power to have impact in the lives of others! Is that not amazing?!

So, today as I look back on what I thought was going to be another wasted day in which I was just taking up resources, God instead used this day to teach me a new perspective.
What I thought was a “Frisbee Squirrel” day actually turned out to be a “playdough” day. >> Rather than giving in to the notion that I was of no more use than a dried up dead squirrel and all the negativity associated with that, I was given a different outlook.

God allowed me to be truly flexible; to accept that although things were not as I had planned, that it could be okay.

Allowing myself to be molded by my Maker was very rewarding. In fact it was beautiful. I could relinquish all the strain of trying to “make” things happen and instead allow myself to be moved and shaped as He saw fit, knowing that would guarantee a good result. In fact: the best result was assured. It truly left a lasting impression on me and on others.

As I look back on today, I rejoice even in the not-idealic circumstances of my day. I was able to make a new friend in Scotland and another in Chile who actually cried with relief to hear from me…me?! (a nobody Frisbee Squirrel bedridden in the Midwestern United States). I tell you God never ceases to amaze me. Amazing love; how can it be? It was a good day to be playdough.

What kind of day did you have?

Shining Light on Diseases: How’s Your Vitamin D?

Girl-Holding-the-Sun-Sunrise__32633-480x320I recently found out after a blood test that I am very low in Vitamin D. The doctor told me to take a supplement of Vitamin D3 — like 4 times the dose I was already taking! Wow! I knew that I am a gal that likes my sunshine and that Vitamin D is made by our bodies utilizing sunshine. Therefore, the winter months, having less sunshine because the hours of daylight are less, as well as the fact that I usually don’t spend a lot of time outside in my shorts outside in sub-freezing temperatures, would naturally mean a decreased amount of Vitamin D in me.

What I DIDN’T know was just how very many problems can stem from not having a sufficient amount of Vitamin D in our body. I learned a LOT by doing a little research on Vitamin D online. The most interesting aspect of it all is that Vitamin D is NOT a vitamin . . . it was misnamed . . . it is actually a hormone and therefore very important in the regulation of body function. Additionally, Cholesterol is needed by our skins production of vitamin D as it reacts with sunlight. When vitamin D levels are low the body will naturally make more cholesterol to be available for conversion to the needed D.  WOW! What a wake-up call.  So the doctor finds that my cholesterol level is high, so he prescribes statin drugs which reduce the cholesterol and my vitamin D level goes down and then all these problems get even worse. Wow! Additionally, not all Vitamin D supplements are the same.  I mean to say, Vitamin D3 is the proper form for us humans to take. When Vitamin D was first studied and named it was done so with testing on rats which are nocturnal mammals. Since they don’t produce the vitamin D with the help of sunshine like we do, it was believed that Vitamin D was obtained solely by diet; thus the term Vitamin… as in, coming from a source outside the body.

Then too there is the fact that we humans have different skin pigmentation and live in different climates. Those of us who live in areas that experience Winter season with fewer daylight hours and cold temps are obviously not going to have the same Vitamin D levels as someone who lives close to the earth’s equator and temperatures conducive to more time spent outdoors in sunshine. On the contrary, our lifestyles of less time outdoors and more times inside of buildings under florescent lights and in front of computers does nothing to bolster our stores of HORMONE D.

I came upon this fabulous wealth of information by Stasha Gom­i­nak, M.D (a neurologist at Tyler, TX) when I listened to a lecture she gave on Sleep, Chronic Pain and Hormone D. Here is a video Dr. Stasha Gominak Discusses Sleep & Vitamin D (all 5 parts). Listening to all of the video took about an hour and a quarter but it was subdivided into five parts so one could watch or refer to one section at a time if that were easier. I watched it as a whole as well as took note of the power point slides that she gave listing resources and references. This was a professionally done lecture which was communicated in such a way that a layperson could understand. My understanding by what she said during the talk, this was given to a group of caregivers and not just doctors. Therefore it is not full of medical jargon that is beyond a person’s comprehension. Rather it is a very logical account of how HORMONE D is behind so many health problems that many people have today.  I think it is important to mention that she points out the pioneering work done by  Dr. Walter Stumpf and the name “soltriol ” that he coined for this important biological hormone.

In doing more reading and research I found it absolutely fascinating that D3 has an important role throughout various functions in the body. There are receptors in the heart, the brain, the pancreas, the gut, muscles, etc. There is a direct correlation between insufficient D3 and several diseases: neurological dysfunction, migraines, sleep disturbances and quality, pain perception, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, acid reflux, diabetes, irritable bowel disorder, heart issues, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, etc. Man!

This all is supported by my own personal experiences. Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome came first, then Insulin Resistance, then Fibromyalgia, acid reflux (I blame that on the meds),migraines started after an auto accident, in 2009 I developed Foreign Accent Syndrome, then my cholesterol was too high. Finally, I had neurological abnormalities after being put onto a statin drug. I KNOW it was as a result of being on a statin drug that I suffered a faux heart-attack and then sever muscle weakness to the point of not being able to stand up or walk. Sure enough, after being off of the statin and employing Physical Therapy, I got better within about three weeks. THEN, I discovered several people (including a parent) that had similar horror stories from being on a statin drug. Then I did research online and saw hundreds of similar complaints. There were even commercials on television stating that there was a class action suit whereby statins were associated with causing people to become diabetic, suffer muscle weakness, heart problems, etc.  I declared “NO more statin drugs for me,” I will use fish oil or krill oil, but absolutely refuse to take that detrimental medication ever again.

Which brings us up to today, I started 2014 with a ten day hellish migraine that wouldn’t go away. Now it’s cluster headaches. Putting together what I have just learned as being the vast number of receptors in our body that NEED vitamin D3 and the fact that I am deficient in it now makes sense. So I have increased my intake of D3 and am going to monitor that with periodic blood tests. Additionally, I’ve learned that Magnesium plays an important role in helping to reduce headaches as does vitamin B.

I am much more informed on the physiology of my body when it comes to Hormone D (soltriol). It explains why I often crave time in the sun and suffer more in the winter. Perhaps a good long tropical vacation is in order.

Let me also recommend Dr. Stasha Gominak’s blog about this subject to you at Vitamin D Hormone: Sleep, Chronic Pain and Headaches.  I personally am excited to have found this information and am sharing it with my doctors and friends. Experience is an excellent teacher and mine is saying to me, “we may just be onto something here; something that can restore health and eliminate disease! I think the overuse of statin drugs is going to do more harm than good unless people see the importance of the cholesterol / Hormone D balance in our bodies.

NOTE: I am NOT a doctor and hold no medical degree. The information contained here is from my own personal observation and experience. It is intended to simply offer my opinions and point to the opinions of others. If you are having any medical concerns, please seek the care of your physician. Although I have stated my dislike for certain classes of medications, one should follow the instructions of their physician along with their own personal convictions. These are intended to point you to some resources and give you a reason to think about your plan of care and overall health. God bless you on your journey to achieving a better state of health.

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO INVESTIGATE THIS FOR YOURSELF.  I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED AND LEARNED ABOUT THIS TOPIC BY SIMPLY LEAVING A COMMENT AND IF WORTHY IN YOUR EYES SHARING IT WITH OTHERS. I believe this has news can have great impact in the world for healthier living.

Page 1 of 512345