Attack on America
& The Chronically Ill: How to Avoid Taking Another Pill
by Lisa Copen, Rest
The Washington Post recently reported
that the attacks on America have resulted in an increase in
chronic pain from patients who already live daily with illness
and pain. It comes as no surprise to those of us who are
chronically ill. Pain, depression, financial struggles and a
lack of control of our future are daily parts of our everyday
life; but when national devastating events occur it can
exasperate the painful chronic conditions.
Mark J. Lema, chairman of anesthesiology
at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said that
clinic traffic at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute there has
doubled in recent days because of pain complaints, and he said
those complaints stem from the stress of Sept. 11 and the
worry that there will be other attacks.
So what do we do? Sit around and flare?
Nope! Here are some tips to get all of us, including the
chronically ill, out of that added pain and back into life.
Take a fast from the television
You may feel guilty about turning it off
when others are suffering, but right now it's vital to get
control over your own body or you aren't going to be able to
move forward. Many of those of us with chronic illness already
have the television on too long, even if it's just to have
some noise in a lonely house. Peter Jennings isn't going to
mind if you hit 'off' and put on some inspirational music that
will help you relax and focus on other things. If you need
something to watch, flip to the old cable channels and catch a
flick of 'I Love Lucy' or 'Breakfast at Tiffany's.' There's
some sweet innocent in these old shows that take us back to
some simpler times and calm us down.
Become Your Own Life Coach
Imagine for a moment that you are
sitting behind a desk with a big certificate on the wall that
says 'Personal Life Coach.' Your job is to look at people's
lives and point them in the right direction; review their
habits, good and bad and point out wise choices, such as
eating healthier and sleeping longer. Are you comfy in that
big chair? Good. Now imagine that you have all the credentials
you need and all the time in the world because you have
decided this year to focus on just one client. And that client
is YOU! You have just walked in and sat down across from
yourself for a review on your life.
We aren't always objective when we
casually look at our life. We give ourselves excuses ('but I
like chocolate cake for breakfast--and it has eggs in it!') We
cut ourselves some slack ('oh, don't worry about missing that
last dose. It won't really hurt you..') Imagine that you are
the coach and your entire career is wrapped up in helping this
client. Be a good client.
Step Outside Yourself
In the wake of the attacks on America a
lot of us chronically ill people thought, 'how can I help? I
can't afford to send even one dollar, I'm not allowed to give
blood. Can I make a difference?' Of course you can!
This morning on the news I saw a neighborhood that came to
together to paint an elderly woman's home. One woman painter
said, 'It was really hard to get up early on a Saturday
morning, but once I got here and started talking to other
people, it felt really good.' We may live with illness, but
guess what? Healthy people still think it's hard to get out of
bed some days too! It's all in the attitude.
Sit down and write out what you love to
do, what your strengths are, what you have a passion for.
Volunteer work doesn't have to be physical. My non-profit
organization exists because over the last four years over 500
people with chronic illnesses have stepped forward and said,
'I cant do a lot, but I can do something. How can I help?'
Collectively they have volunteered over 20,000 hours.
Search Your Faith
The world can be a scary place. Frankly,
it's going to be scarier than usual for us Americans for a
while. Search your faith. What makes sense? Spa baths, hot
tea, chocolates and bunny slippers may get you through some
rough times, but we all come to a place where we need more
than Body Works and Ghirardelli. If it's been awhile since
you've been to church, go. You may find the peace that you're
searching for and you may not need those extra anti-inflammatories
that you called your doctor for last week along with a large
percentage of other chronically ill people.
© 2001 Lisa Copen
Lisa Copen is the
director & founder of Rest Ministries, Inc. a nonprofit
organization that serves people who live with chronic illness
or pain. Lisa lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromaylgia.
For free daily devotional by Christians with chronic illness
send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the author's web site at http://www.restministries.org.