Are You Fighting a War With Chronic Disease?

Fifty percent of the U.S. population have an unyielding medical condition that clashes with the demands of daily life. Some diseases are visible; some are not. But all are equally draining and disruptive.

The number one cause of death, disability and ever increasing health spending in America: chronic disease.

A chronic disease does not discriminate. Anyone of any age, race, or gender can fall into the grips of a chronic disease such as:

Chronic disease can require a drastic change in a person’s lifestyle. The disease can interfere with job status, leisure activities, social outings, and a person’s independence.

 Then there is the need to deal with the illness itself. Acceptance. Adjustment. Facing the reality of having a chronic illness, the demands of the change in lifestyle it requires, plus the treatment and side effects.

 When I was told I had Parkinson’s Disease, I cried for a week. My thoughts were spinning. I felt sad, worried, alone, and scared. What did this mean for my life? Why did this happen? I began thinking of all the things potentially I could miss with my husband and family. I envisioned not being around to see my three grandchildren grow up.
 Many mental health clinicians use the stages in the Kubler-Ross model when helping people deal with the losses associated with chronic illness. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

 But I experienced other emotions, too, in a range of intensity. Each day is different and brings a variety of emotions and challenges.

Chronic debilitating pain—the kind that lasts longer than three months—is the most widespread affliction of our time. It besets approximately 100 million adults in the U.S.—more than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined—and can upend sufferers’ sleep, mood, appetite, relationships, and ability to function.—Ginny Graves, A World of Hurt, April 2016 Oprah Magazine

There’s an on-going battle for a person with chronic illness. The battle to remain significant to other people and in one’s own life. To be able to contribute to the lives of other people. To still have a purpose. A battle to preserve one’s own worth and usefulness despite a chronic illness. A fight against a loss of a valued level of functioning in the world.

Individuals diagnosed with a chronic illness also are more likely to be depressed, to feel angry about their illness, and often feel a sense of loss of who they used to be.

I have found the following tips that can make life easier:

♥ Be an advocate for your own health. Learn everything you can about your illness. Be informed.
 ♥ Seek second opinions.
 ♥ If a medication doesn’t seem to be working or is causing unpleasant side effects, speak up. Call your doctor.
 ♥ Seek support groups, and go! Bring a family member with you. Call your local hospital for a list in your area.
 ♥ Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions come your way. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with love. Find things that make you happy. Have you ever heard someone with Parkinson’s play piano? Well, it isn’t pretty but it make me happy.

 In Psychology Today the words of Julian Seifter, M.D. really brings this home in his piece No Fault Illness:

The truth is, no health policy or medical Ten Commandments will ever entirely tame the randomness of the universe or control all the variables affecting people’s health. Simply being alive means being vulnerable to time, chance, illness, death. Not everything that happens to us is a measure of character or will; sometimes an event is just a matter of luck. Tolerance and acceptance are attitudes that help us face whatever chance throws our way. It’s only by acknowledging what lies beyond our control that we can fully embrace the lives we have, for the time we have them.

 

Think about it. Tell me your story.
Sandy    drsandynelson@gmail.com
©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com

Good and Evil Are Roommates At War Here

One word: paradise.

Blue skies stretch across a vast horizon. The soothing sounds and colors of a landscape come alive along paths of trees bearing fresh fruit for the picking. The scenery is a tropical postcard—gentle river streams babble along with waterfalls that outline a garden of extraordinary design and resource.

Everything needed for happiness is present. Here is a paradise of abundance. Here, there’s no want. There’s no hunger, thirst, or need of a doctor. There’s no white collar or blue collar, first class or coach, millionaire or minimum wage. No sorrow, worry, or problems.

It’s a place of good and right and truth. It’s where you don’t live, nor do I.  We don’t live in the Garden of Eden.

You and I live in a place of disease, struggles, and mistakes. We live in a land of inconsideration, crime, and loss. We’re surrounded by tragedies, unspeakable acts, and fears. We dwell among those who seek to define winners by possessions, status, and bank balances. We’re exposed to the greedy, the unkind, the bias.

This is a place of bad and wrong and lies. This is our place—our world—the outcome of Adam and Eve’s choice. Good and bad, right and wrong, truth and lies are roommates at war here. This is where you and I live. This is our reality.

Adam and Eve had it all—no wishful thinking, no bills, no body aches, no wants, no worries.

They possessed a park-like mansion and owned a river that divided into four more rivers (two are still identified today in Iraq each over 600 miles long where Eden existed). They had land bigger than the size of Texas. They were given forests, beaches, oasis, mountains, prairies, and golf course landscaping. They had security for themselves and inheritance for their children to come.

Still, there was one tiny, very small part of the whole earth they did not have—a tree. Just one tree. The Lord asked Adam and Eve, who stood as the sole receivers of the Earth, to recognize one, just one, itsy bitsy tiny request. You are free to eat from any tree, but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Assurance of life to them, immortal life, was theirs if they would honour this one request asked of God.

It required a decision.

They had the freedom to choose whether to focus on their paradise or to focus on the one forbidden tree.

At first, Adam and Eve must have passed the forbidden tree many times without a thought. After some time, perhaps they would look at the one tree as they walked to the river to swim. They didn’t talk to each other about the forbidden tree, but they each knew it was permanently off limits or as God told them, the consequence would be they will surely die.

One day Eve walked up to the tree, stopped and stared at it—focusing on the one thing she and Adam didn’t possess.

She dismissed the truth, denied the existence of repercussions, and justified listening to the words of a snake over the Word of God.

The rest is history.

Many people choose to focus on what they lack, what’s unfair, what they should have, and they are soon blinded from the blessings already bestowed upon them.

Like Adam and Eve, the given abundance is lost in the more they seek to have. These individuals focus on the one tree—the one thing they don’t have, don’t possess, don’t experience, or don’t feel.

What they do have is taken for granted. We can’t appreciate what we take for granted.

When a problem gangs up on us, all the struggling aspects of living seem to take the stage and the positive advantages of our lives—the blessings—seem to be missing from the role of credits.

Enter the nature of God—abundance.

Look around you. There isn’t just one leaf, one river, one snowflake, one flower, one feeling. There isn’t just a single dollar, a single gemstone, or a single piece of gold. These things are in abundance!

Jesus said that He came to give life—not just ordinary existence, but life in fullness, abundance and prosperity.

The choice of what to believe and what to focus on requires your decision—the same decision required of Adam and Eve—are you going to focus on what you don’t have or are you going to focus on a life of gratitude for what you do possess?

Are you going to believe what God says or are you going to doubt God exists?

On one side is God with goodness, eternal life, and “plenty” of all that is necessary for life and on the other side is the enemy of your soul who comes to rob you of God’s blessings, to oppress your mind with lies, and destroy an attitude of gratitude.

You choose every day what you’re going to believe and who you’re going to believe.

Choose wisely, my friend.

Think about it.

drsandynelson@gmail.com, © Life101Blog.com, Sandy Nelson Ph.D., All Rights Reserved

When Did You Last Hear “Take Your Time?”

We are all ruled by time. It controls our daily lives. 

Do we ever have enough time?

Time is attached to all events—births, meetings, flights, dinner, classes, family visits, accidents, celebrations, weddings, and deaths.

Time changes the seasons. It ages all life and awakens the new.

Time. It’s a priority—so be on time. We give it honor—we thank you for this time. We curse it—what’s taking so long? It deceives us—we think we have more time. We live it one day at a time.

Time. A commodity that cannot be ruled or bought or threatened or bargained. It cannot be stolen, bribed, or tortured. It holds no bias. It passes with no thought of our peril.

It’s both a mentor and a master. It’s a lifetime.

Free time has a price. This minute becomes history in 60 seconds, never to be revived. It’s opportunities vanish. Another delay in a pursuit of dreams. Maybe another missed chance. Are we waiting for time?

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. –H. Jackson Brown Jr.

We can feel validation when we mark our time with worthwhile moments. Stop waiting, stop postponing. Reach for that destiny. Make a plan. It’s worth the time.

Make the choice to be mindful of every minute spent with family and friends. Take time. Be present. Remember the details. With each passing day, children and family are older.

The pressure of time is stress.

Things need to be done by a certain time. Maybe a lot of things need attention after a workday. Take it from a recovering perfectionist, not everything is urgent. Some things can wait, if not many.

Discovering and maintaining relationships is probably the best use of time. The ones that are supportive and understanding. The ones whom will rally when needed. Nurture those relationships. Be a friend, too.

Use some time running interference with your purpose in life–what you feel driven to accomplish. There will be obstacles. Some people won’t understand and won’t be supportive and won’t get it. That’s okay. Sometimes illness or something else happens that threatens to derail your calling. A genuine passion for something will not budge regardless of events.

Helping or inspiring other people is always a good use of time. This is a blessed time to give humanity. To contribute to something bigger than one person.  It steadies the belief that mankind is compassionate, capable, and helpful.

The trouble is, you think you have time. -Buddha

Think about it.

drsandynelson@gmail.com ♦ Life101Blog.com©

What Do You Deserve In Life?

What do you deserve in life? – by Dr. Sandy Nelson
Did you find yourself hesitating to answer the question?

 

I did.

What do I deserve? Nothing.

But that’s old school thinking. That’s my unhealthy and incorrect thinking from decades ago.

You see, I was raised as a Missouri Synod Lutheran with a doctrine that preached, in my opinion, self-abnegation in church and you-don’t-deserve-crap in its parochial school.

My takeaway experience with religion by junior high graduation was: Jesus died for my pathetic existence and worthless life. I should live in continual disrepute, guilt and shame that He was killed in my stead.

I came to learn that many religions have a knack of guilt-tripping and adversely branding people who believe in something different than what the churches are preaching and demand within their denomination.

I believe in the full and true Grace of God.

In my opinion, there is no religious guilt, judgment, self-denial or shame under the Grace of God. We are free and we are to love one another as Jesus said.

It’s pretty simple when you take out all the bylaws and rules and rituals associated with many sects.

We have no right to judge or condemn others or ourselves.

Each of us has been given talents, skills, gifts, strengths, and abilities for use to better our lives and to help the lives of other people.

So, what do I really deserve? I deserve happiness, love, and success. And you deserve joy, affection, and achievement from your endeavors, too.

We deserve shelter and sunlight and shade and warmth. We deserve the free will to determine our destinies. We deserve the moon! And we have it. We deserve a universe! It’s all ours.

But, be alert to any invalidating thoughts you hold about yourself. They can cause you to sabotage relationships, success, and happiness.

If you do not treat yourself with love and respect, you can not experience the love and respect that other people want to give you.

So, seriously jump on any negative thoughts in your head about yourself. Refuse to criticize your mistakes or degrade your limitations or weaknesses—we all have them.

Self-love is necessary to succeed, to be happy, and to love other people.

Listen to the words you choose to use every day. Are they complaining and critical words? Are they judgmental phrases? Or do you hear encouraging expressions? Phrases of kindness? Words of gratitude out of your mouth?

The words you speak reflect your character. Your words reflect what you believe about yourself.

Stay aware of the words you choose to verbalize. Do they match the character you want to role model to your children, family, co-workers or other people? Are they in agreement with the integrity in which you want to be associated?

Where you are today can be attributed to the words you tell yourself.

What do you deserve? Are you ready to answer the question?

Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com  ♦  Any photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

How To Stop Hate

Only a person with self-contempt can contemplate murder. Self-esteem and self-respect can’t co-exist with hatred. But organized hatred helps give new meaning to the lives of those who feel marginalized. That’s how one learns to hate.

In 1915, D.W. Griffith used the technology of motion pictures to make Birth of a Nation. This film prejudiceportrayed African-Americans as being stupid, lazy and inferior, and glorified the Ku Klux Klan for standing up for the rights of the white supremacy majority. It was so effective in fostering hate against African-Americans that even Griffith himself was said to have been shocked.

One hundred years later, in Charleston, South Carolina, Dylann Roof, a Caucasian male, walked into a Bible study on Wednesday evening, June 17th with a mindset of hate. His reason for attending was to shoot and kill everyone there—all African-American’s. For an hour, Roof sat with the group and participated in their discussions about Scripture. Later, Roof told police he almost aborted his plan to kill the group because they were so welcoming and kind to him.

Michael Daly of The Daily Beast wrote:

But that would have meant giving up the hate that filled the hollowness of being born of a fleeting reunion between his parents three years after their divorce and of getting no further in high school than the ninth grade, but wearing a jacket with an “Academic All Stars” patch rightfully worn only by seniors in the top 10 percent. 

He had compensated for that false claim by sewing two other patches on the jacket, flags of apartheid-era Rhodesia and South Africa, symbols for those seeking another kind of supposed supremacy. 

And his older sister, Amber, was to be married on Sunday. To have just left the Emanuel A.M.E. Church on Wednesday night would have meant going to the wedding at the end of the week as a rank loser from a fractured family who could rightly declare himself supreme in nothing at all.

Even so, Roof seems to have understood in his moments of indecision that these warmly devout people of the Bible study group were putting the lie to his racism. He may have sensed that the faith filling their lives might also fill his own.

After an hour, just as he was apparently losing his resolve and his hate was slipping away, Roof seized it anew. He allegedly produced the Glock .45 automatic that he is reported to have purchased with birthday money from his father.

That was when Tywanza Sanders is said to have told him, “You don’t have to do this.”

Roof is said to have replied as if he were also trying to convince himself. He was not some loser. He was a champion of the white race about to start a race war.

“I have to do it,” he reportedly cried out.

His next words were the language of white supremacists. “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Hate is a painful state of being because the mind is not ordained to hate. Everybody is born to love—to love our Creator, to love ourselves and to love others.

IMG_2247It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also, and above all, our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves, wrote Catholic Monk Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation.

A zero self-love is a developed misery. It’s miserable because it’s painful and unnatural to hate one’s self—it goes against our very nature. Our core disposition is to love, not despise; to include, not shut out; to embrace, not isolate.

When we, as a society reverse the hate, overturn the prejudice and embrace all human beings with dignity and respect they’re entitled to, then maybe the violence will rescind. When we encourage and support one another, then the inner flames of self-esteem and self-respect are not extinguished.

FullSizeRender (6)Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com