Monthly NFP Update: Lessons in Drug Reactions

PSALM 73 (1)

August- a month of opposites. The Creighton Method and Naprotechnology treatment requires a huge helping of patience and humility with a hefty sprinkling of courage and trust. In these moments of increased suffering and confusion, my relationship with God shifts into a more pristine focus- better aligned and less muddled by my pride and control.

For a moment, I thought my body and reproductive track considered cooperating. Somewhere between the travel adventures and joyous occasions my body found enough time and energy to protest my Napro treatment for PMDD. About 6 months ago my PMS diagnosis was revised to a PMDD diagnosis. For those who may not be familiar with PMDD or Post-Dysphoric Menstrual Disorder in the most simplistic definition PMDD is a more severe and volatile version of PMS. After I passed with flying colors the screening for PMDD, my local napro doctor prescribed a medication which used in minute dosages can help your body reset the bio-chemical endocrine processes surrounding the transition from one cycle into the next. But it’s a medication to be respected.

Medical need finally tipped the scale outweighing my reservations, and I successfully took the medication for 5 months before the final hurrah. Looking back at my chart, a few positive affects can be noted. ***And I should disclaim this medication has been beneficial for many women undergoing Napro treatment without or with minimal side-effects.***

This month I only made it through 3 days of my 10 day course before having cardiac and neurological symptoms. I ignored the fluttering heart rate and palpitations the first 3 nights before the neurological symptoms hit which were harder to ignore. On night three, I felt a sudden decline in my mental acuity and a heavy mental fog descend, my rate of exhaustion skyrocket, followed by slowed speech and thought, catapulting into decreased balance and increased dizziness. This led to falls, topples, and bashed knees (and a rather scared and confused Hannah.) Two weeks later I regained my mental acuity and the fog dissipated. It took one week to regain my balance in full. My darkened mood hasn’t rebounded yet. I discontinued my med, consulted with my doctor, and spent time recovering. My doctor and I will need to re-evaluate and discern the next steps.

In many ways, I know I am blessed that nothing more severe or life-threatening happened. In other ways, I recognize my medical de-sensitivity played into my ignorance of the severity of my drug reaction. A hard lessen to learn but an important lessen to know when and what your limitations are and when you should seek professional medical help.

I am frustrated by this set-back in my treatment. I am concerned what the next step will be or if there is a next step. I am worried what the ripple affect will be. Already my cycle has changed without the drug treatment. The brokenness is coming back more recognizable and distinct in my charting. The weakness if pouring into where the healing was. I offer up my cup of brokenness and weakness to God. He makes all things good. Everyday He keeps repeating, “Hannah, you are good.” And to that light of love I cling.

“Though my flesh and my heart fail, God is the rock of my heart, my portion forever.” – Psalm 73: 26

 

 

 

 

Monthly Devotion: Our Lady of Sorrows Novena

Mary QuoteThe month of September holds a few special Marian Feast Days:

  1. September 8th: The Birth of Mary
  2. September 12th: The Holy Name of Mary
  3. September 15th: Our Lady of Sorrows

In honor of these Marian Feasts, the Holy Spirit guided me to praying the Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows as Chronically Catholic Blog’s Monthly devotion. I’m less familiar with this Novena and am looking forward to praying this devotion with you all.

Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Doloures, or Mother of Sorrows is a Catholic devotion founded on the Prophesy of Simeon that 7 Swords would pierce Our Lady’s heart: “and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce)* so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon. Luke 2:34-35
  2. The escape and Flight into Egypt. Matthew 2:13 
  3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. Luke 2:43-45
  4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Via Dolorosa.
  5. The Crucifixion of Jesus on Mount Calvary. John 19:25
  6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus with a spear, and His Descent from the Cross. Matthew 27:57-59
  7. The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea. John 19:40-42

 

HOW TO PRAY THE NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF SORROWS:

Pray From: September 7-15th.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena Prayers

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 1

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 2

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 3

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 4

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 5

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 6

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 7

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 8

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena – Day 9

O BLESSED Virgin Mary, Mother of our Redeemer! remember we are thy children, given to thee by thy Divine Son, when expiring on the cross. Mother of sorrows! by the tears which flowed from thy eyes when Saint John related how the traitor Judas sold thy Divine Son for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver; how, in the Garden of Olives, he was agonized with fear and sorrow, the blood gushing through every pore; by all the anguish that overwhelmed thy heart when thou didst hear that Jesus, the only object of thy love, was condemned to death; by the sorrow that pierced thy maternal bosom, in meeting thy only beloved Son loaded with a heavy cross, spent through loss of blood, fatigue and pain; by that heroic resignation to the divine will, which, triumphing over the sentiments of nature, sustained thee at the foot of the cross; by the excess of grief that would have robbed thee of life, had not God preserved thee for the comfort of his disciples and of his infant church; by the dolors that rent thy desolate heart when beholding thy beloved Jesus, most beautiful in his comeliness above the sons of men, become a prey to death, the ignominious death of the cross; by all the sufferings of thy most afflicted heart, obtain for us, O Mother of Mercy, true contrition for our sins, persevering fervour in the divine service, and the particular favours we solicit in this Novena.

O thou most tender and afflicted Mother, who didst sacrifice thyself on the same altar with thy beloved Son, and whose heart was penetrated by the nails that fastened him to the cross; as it was our sins inflicted those torments on thy Divine Son, we acknowledge that we justly deserve the wrath of divine justice to fall on our devoted heads. But if those very sufferings have proved our defense and protection heretofore, grant that now at least we may participate profoundly in the sorrow of which we have been the unhappy cause; and obtain, that souls hitherto so insensible to the strongest proofs of love, may, by heartfelt contrition, taste one drop of that bitter chalice of which thou didst drink so deeply.

Amen.

 

Catholic Match Blog Post

Please, read my recently published article on Catholic Match Institute’s Blog, by clicking on the link below.

Bargain Less & Embrace More: How to Navigate Love with Chronic Illness

This article shares my personal experience with navigating the highs and lows of life, love, dating, and relationships with chronic illness. Learn how I’ve changed my dating approach, and how I bargain less and embrace more while being true to who God created me and the unique manner in which God calls me to express love and be loved.

Love Quotes (1)

Catholic Match Blog Post

Please. check out my latest blog post published on Catholic Match Institute’s Blog. I’m hoping this article helps provide a Catholic perspective on relationships, marriage, and high risk pregnancy. Please, enter into a very personal and important topic that has touched my life and many other women. May God bless and keep you all!

Real Talk: How to Discuss Sex and High Risk Pregnancy While Dating

Humanae Vitae- 5

Breakfast the Most Challenging Meal of the Day. SOLUTION: My Morning Shakes

Whether your seeking health and wellness and/or you have a tumultuous relationship with food, breakfast begins your nourishment for the day. For years, I skipped breakfast or limited my food intake due to varying levels of nausea and the sensation my digestive system didn’t wake up until 10-11 am. I also don’t enjoy most breakfast foods.

Once you’re an adult, skipping breakfast becomes more difficult as your body changes with age and your responsibilities/ schedule change. With my development of chronic and complicated migraines, skipping morning sustenance increased my headaches and propensity for migraines.

The solution: My Dad participated in a corporate wellness research program as a data analyst. A local manufacturing plant’s human resource department wanted to increase the health and wellness of their employees. Part of the experimental program involved morning “health shakes” that replaced breakfast but provided essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals through raw food. The stats proved significant increase in health indicators and markers in the bloodstream plus weight loss or maintenance.

My Dad brought his work project home and introduced it to my mom and I. Now these shakes are a staple in our morning routines. Instead of feeling grossed out by food in the morning, not only do I tolerate but enjoy the shakes most morning (not always but the alternative is worse.) I blend the shake 5-6 days of the week, and take a break once at least once a week.

My Morning Shakes:

  • Organic Unsweetened Cherries
  • Organic Berry Blend- Blackberries/Strawberries/Blueberries
  • Organic Power Greens- Kale/Spinach/Salad Greens
  • 1/2 Banana
  • Filtered Water

Other Options:

  • More or Less of any of the above
  • Slices of Avocado- protein

Process:

I use a Magic Bullet Blender or a Ninja Blender with the tall glass attachment. I’m guessing my shake is around 16 oz. The process is simple stuff it all in and blend with water until the desires consistency. My blend includes 4-5 cherries,  1/4 water berries, 1/3-1/2 power greens, 1/2 banana, and filtered water.

Enjoy-Nourish your body & your soul! Happy New Year!

 

 

Suffering in Silence: Life with Autoimmune Disease

For those unfamiliar with autoimmune disease either personally or by association, the best description I can give is your immune system, which keeps you healthy, begins attacking healthy cells – your body essentially attacks itself. There are a multitude of autoimmune diseases: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Celiac’s Disease, Scleroderma, Psoriasis, Sjogren’s syndrome, Ploymyalgia rheumatica, Pernicious Anemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, Chrohn’s Disease, Vascultitis, etc.

According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA,) over 50 million Americans are affected by autoimmune diseases with over 80 types of known autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune disease can run in families and 75% of those suffering from an autoimmune disease are women. African-American, Hispanic, and Native Americans have an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

As with many diseases, autoimmune disease can have stages from systemic to remission. As a point of clarification, I’m not officially diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. My entire life I have lived with a loved one who has multiple autoimmune diseases. I also have friends with autoimmune diseases, especially conditions that became prevalent after college.

My blog post isn’t just an autoimmune disease awareness post, but an exploration into living with those silently suffering with these diseases.

 

auto immune disease
What Can Aggravate an Autoimmune Disease?

 

  • The Dignity of the Human Person: “A person is an entity of a sort to which the only proper and adequate way to relate is love.”- St. John Paul II, Love and Responsibility. Tragically, our culture maintains a mostly utilitarian and social Darwinist approach to the dignity of the human person- if you can’t quantify the worth by the socially accepted rubric it ain’t there. I’ve witnessed the very real, painful struggle of a loved one clinging to their intrinsic worth and dignity while the world feeds them lies about how they are a burden on their family, loved ones, community, and society. A person is person regardless of form or function. Even the sickest or most deformed and seemingly inconvenient person is a child of God and reflects some aspect of the divine. Love bears all things and believes all things. Love rejoices in the truth.
  • People vs. Things: As the graphic above depicts, everyday life can be life threatening to a person with an autoimmune disease, especially a person facing a systemic autoimmune disease. Don’t even get me started about the inundation of artificial fragrances and bath/beauty/home products in North America creating a toxic environment. People don’t want to live in bubbles, but when the outside world is toxic, your options can be limited. Our home may be hypoallergenic and fragrance free, but we chose that long before it became a life-threatening need. Sometimes the process is arduous, expensive, and inconvenient or seemingly hopeless. But by choosing the person over a lifestyle and the things that make a lifestyle, we gain more than we “loose” in inconvenience, appearances, and expense. Our lifestyle may not be “sexy” or “glamorous” but it’s worthwhile and authentic.
  • A Person Isn’t a Tool: “You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.”- Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. A person isn’t a utility knife once rusty or broken you either repair or discard. Sometimes you can’t “repair” or “fix” a person, but you can suffer with a person (i.e., compassion.) Life with autoimmune disease or living with a person with an autoimmune disease isn’t easy and can be hard- the best type of hard. The lifestyle requires and demands mental/emotional/spiritual energy, staunch courage, creativity, perseverance in adversity, and loads of divine grace. Having a decent sense of humor and a level of abandonment in Christ helps too. But I found many people who struggle and suffer with an autoimmune disease have an immense capacity for joy and hope.
  • Learning About Yourself/Learning to Adapt: I went to dinner with my friend who is a Licensed Massage therapist and works with patients who have autoimmune diseases. She listened to my story (my family’s story and the difficulties we were facing.) She paused and stated, “You want to be frustrated with a person with an autoimmune disease when you can’t plan anything or commit to anything with certainty, but you can’t be. It isn’t their fault because no-one can predict how and why and what may happen hour by hour. And they are the one’s who suffer with this daily. How frustrating it must be for them.” She captured a rare truth. Living with a person suffering with an autoimmune disease is an exploration into one’s self (a mirror of sorts): your motivation, your priorities, your definition of commitment and relationships, your worldview, your sense of humor, your selfishness and selflessness, your compassion and empathy or the lack-there-of, your faith and the importance faith in your daily life, your humility, your pursuit of virtue versus vice, and whether you have the courage to live in the world but not conform to the world.

Thank you for reading and your support!

 

St. Lidwina, patron saint of chronic pain and chronic illness,  pray for us!

 

 

 

The Double Edged Sword of Looking Good

Appearences aren’t always indicative of reality. A conversation after Sunday Mass with my friend’s family reminded me of the deceptive nature of appearences. We can exude a reality that doesn’t exist. Easily.

I cringed when she said, “You look great!” People need to understand appearances can be deceiving. A smile can mask a multitude of ailments. Supernatural joy can hide deep rooted pain and distress. We are masters of distortion for a variety of reasons, usually either selfish or selfless reasons. All the world is our stage and we act out our illusion of control.

For a person with multiple chronic and complex health conditions, acting the part of a healthy character has become an artform, a tool of discretion, a mask of fleeting normalcy, and a shield from narrowmindeness and hurt. This act can come at a heavy price- the double edged sword.

A smile can hide a multitude of ailments. When the doctors banned me from replying I was “okay” to pertinent medical questions, I wasn’t being coy or manipulative. My internal joy of my miraculous pediatric stroke survival trumped any discomfort and uncertainty I faced. Therefore, I was okay in the grand scheme of God’s plan. Maybe I wasn’t medically okay, but I was providentially okay.

Occasionally my loved ones or I haven’t received the medical care we needed in as prompt of a manner because we’ve smiled or laughed in the ER or Urgent Care. I’ve had clinicians diagnose me as a healthy young women when I was only a few hours away from severe metabolic imbalance and potentially cardiac arrest. This is an extreme example that illustrates my point.

Appearances of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state of being may not be as it seems. I may smile and engage while looking healthy and vivacious in-person. But I may go home and curl up in a fetal position in a cool dark room moments later dead to the outside world for the next week.

I take for granted the fact my parents and immediate family are intuitive and perceptive people. A subtle change of skin tone, subtle change in breathing patterns, a distortion of posture, or the sheen in ones eye can be enough to alert them of a medical concern. Learning the subtleties of the other produces a keen sense of awareness, a responsibility to others wellbeing, and an avenue to break from selfishness.

Strength and defiance of visible weakness can become an extension of pride, a mark of valor, and a mark of extrodinary courage on the battlefield of chronic illness. The real battle is not to loose our ability to feel and express emotions, allow others to serve us in our moments of weakness, and honestly share the reality of our precious lives.

I guess either I need to practice acting ill or others need to practice being perceptive. Or both.