Still Part of the Fellowship

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abstract-fine-color-waves-910x300A church friend contacted me yesterday and I wanted to share how encouraging she was.
I was explaining how sad I was that I haven’t been able to get to church as much, although I have made it to life group a few times and the Christmas concert.

She said: “But you’re still part of the fellowship. Every single person who can’t get to church for one reason or another is still part of the fellowship.”

This is such a powerful thing for me to hear and I realised that the fellowship IS all still going on: texts, letters, visits, support, prayer, music, podcasts and reading.

There are lots of people who can’t always get to the services, through ill health or distance.

I just wanted to say it’s true: “We are all still part of the fellowship.”

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The Jubilation-Despair Clash

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Things have been very up or down here.  I’ve just had a very busy week,  busy for me that is.  

JUBILATION   I went to a prayer meeting at the tiny church on my new street. This church is linked to my usual church – they belong to the same family. I’m hoping to get involved in their home group whilst I am recuperating from my long health relapse.

I’ve had beloved visitors to the flat which has made it feel much more homely. I also met a woman and her partner at a social event. She  invited me to her new home which is a palatial edifice overlooking the sea. The views are spectacular.  They moved up from London six months ago. Gentrification is definitely taking place here.

I also went to a craft/technical workshop yesterday which I absolutely loved.

DESPAIR  But there are downsides too. I went to my GP and asked to go back on antidepressants as being housebound much of the time has been really getting to me.  I am feeling a little brighter for that.  I am also going to be tested for Addison’s Disease.  I don’t think I have it but it is a good place to start,  to find out why I have had muscle wasting and weight loss over the last 3 years.  Personally I think it is to do with hormones,  lack thereof,  after my hysterectomy.  Low testosterone can be a real problem.

I am really struggling with my trusted mechanic, who is looking out for an automatic car for me. It’s taking ages and I feel that there is a breakdown in communication. I feel like a ‘problem’ to him, which is how my ex used to make me feel, whereas we have always got on brilliantly. 

My relationship with my  best friend, G, is also proving to be quite difficult. We have had some talks recently about how I feel the friendship is being eroded by his extraordinarily busy, stressful life. Much of his life is negative. I really do fear for his health – and he does too! He got defensive when I brought up this ‘fading of our friendship’.  He basically told me to ‘get over it’ and ‘get on with it’.  I  believe  he has lost perspective and sees me as attacking him rather than trying to sort the problem out.  We have been friends for 31 years.  I don’t think he has any conception at all of what it is like to be very often housebound and vulnerable because of that. Disappointing.

Therefore, I have jubilant times and times of despair.  I have a large desire to tell a few people to sling their hooks.  But I know that that will be self-defeating in the long run. I must master my emotions! 

Regular Self-Care As a Route to Health

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This is from the TMS Wiki Structured Education Programme. It struck a chord as I can neglect myself in terms of diet and rest if under stress. http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Educational_Program_Day_37

Regular Self Care

The ability to care for oneself is an essential skill that that needs to be learned and practiced to prevent or relieve TMS/PPD symptoms. Most people learn this as children when they are given adequate opportunities to play. A four-year-old with paper and fingerpaints does not care how many pictures per hour they produce, or about the quality of their work or who will see it. They care only that they are having fun. If it stops being fun they move on to another activity they enjoy. This is how children, and adults, learn how to meet their need for enjoyment. Adults may not need as many hours spent in this way as a child, but the need is always there.

For some children, the opportunity for carefree self-indulgence is limited or non-existent. If children are abused or given excessive responsibilities, if among the adults in the home there is violence, drug abuse, a high need for support or erratic behavior the child may focus on the needs of others (adults or siblings) in the home. This may leave insufficient time for acquiring self-care skills. In addition, low self-esteem from a less than nurturing home may leave children feeling unworthy of taking time for themselves.

Adults lacking this ability care for everyone but themselves. If they have spare time, their thoughts turn to using it constructively for the benefit of others. On the list of those whom they support, their own name is missing. For some, the only break they get occurs when TMS/PPD symptoms become too severe for them to function.

Fortunately, self-care skill can be acquired at any age. Here are some steps that have helped others:

  1. Recognize the issues that may have deprived you of self-care skills as a child. It may help to imagine your own children (or a child you care about) growing up in the same environment you did. If those children would be missing out then so did you. This provides a solid justification for learning the skills you missed.
  2. Take 4-5 hours every week, if possible, for activity with no purpose but its own joy. Ask members of your household to support you in this effort. Trial and error are usually needed to find enjoyable activities (going to a gym to work out usually isn’t enough fun, for example). Don’t worry if you feel like a failure at this for months because that is part of the learning process. It is not easy to change a life pattern that has been successful for you up to now.
  3. Don’t worry if you feel guilty about not doing something “constructive” with this weekly self-care because that is usually how people feel at first.
  4. If there are people who created difficulties in the past who are still creating problems for you, consider ending or strictly limiting contact with them during the time you are developing self-care skills.

Once you acquire this skill you will have it for life. In the future, whenever your stress level begins to reach levels capable of causing symptoms, you will have the ability to leave the rest of your world and focus on you. This is a powerful technique that, by itself, has relieved severe and long-lasting symptoms in many people.

QMUL RELEASES PACE DATA – Graded Exercise Therapy Bogus Treatment for CFS/ME

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This is such landmark news for people with ME/CFS. This backs up what patients have known all along… militaristic Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) makes us worse not better. This doesn’t mean that we should stop moving but that pushing through the pain does not work for us. Pacing is more effective. It also partially explains my current prolonged muscle relapse as pushing is what I did through my house move – push through pain and warning symptoms. Thank God for the people out there who campaigned to get this data released.

http://www.meaction.net/2016/09/09/qmul-releases-pace-data/

 

Praying for Healing Isn’t Enough

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Praying for our health isn’t enough. I’ve learned that we have to pray to God to be shown what we need to change –  how our thinking and behaviour need to alter, no matter how painful the execution of those things may be.  We need to meet God halfway and take responsibility for our own part. But sometimes we need God to show us what those steps are.  

Just vaguely praying for healing for ourselves and our friends, for example, in Life Group, which is what we do a lot of, isn’t enough. We need to get specific. 

 

Lower Muscle Strength and the Postmenopausal Woman

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Build up your muscle strength

Gosh, I just found this on The Finchley Clinic Blog. Very pertinent to me as I have lost a lot of muscle strength since my major surgery in 2013. Below is an extract from the article: 

Only a fool would suggest that the menopause isn’t a complicated and often difficult time in a woman’s life. And, with all the hormonal changes going on in the female body at this point, bone health can become an issue. Many may not be aware, though, that muscle strength – or lack of it – can also be a concern thanks to ‘the change’. Both during and after menopause, oestrogen levels decrease and this can result in sarcopenia – a gradual, ongoing drop in muscle mass.

Is this enormously serious? Well, inside muscles, Vitamin D acts on special receptors, helping to drive up the mass and strength of the muscle as well as becoming involved in protein synthesis, which enables muscle contractions; thus, it plays a critical role in healthy muscle function. All this means that, due to Vitamin D deficiency, post-menopausal women can be at risk of potential frailty (and so reduced mobility) as well as frequent falls. And it can also help drive that particularly unpopular side-effect of menopause, weight gain – because it leads to a lower metabolism.

Inevitably then, help can come from boosting Vitamin D. A recent nine-month study, conducted at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil, found that post-menopausal women who had received Vitamin D3 supplementation enjoyed a 25% increase in muscle strength, while conversely, a similar group of volunteers receiving a placebo instead actually lost muscle mass – and experienced twice as many falls as those taking Vitamin D3.

Optimisation through supplementation

The results of these studies, as well as the fact IBS and muscle softness among post-menopausal women is common, is sadly not surprising (at least in this country) when one considers that four in every 10 (39%) of UK adults experience low vitamin D levels when the sun’s at its weakest in the winter. Indeed, ageing adults (the most likely to spend a good deal of time indoors) are most vulnerable to this nutrient deficiency4.

It’s pretty clear then that most people could probably do with optimising their Vitamin D levels. The trouble is, of course, this is easier said than done, as for half the year in many parts of the world (and, again, certainly in the UK), there isn’t much in the way of sunlight from which to gain it. So the answer? Supplementation.

http://www.thefinchleyclinic.com/blog/ibs-and-muscle-strengthening-what-vitamin-d-supplements-can-do-for-you/

Spiritual and Practical Approaches to Adrenal Fatigue

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Shannon TaggartFrom an article by Dr Christine Northrup

Spiritual and Holistic Options

A far better option for healing adrenal fatigue over the long run is to restore adrenal health and function so your adrenals can eventually produce the hormones you need on their own. That will require making changes in the lifestyle that caused the adrenal insufficiency. Here are some suggestions:

  • Focus more on loving thoughts. Thoughts that bring you pleasure (like thinking about people you love, favorite pets, a delicious meal, or even a sweet memory) short-circuit the harm done by the body’s physiological reaction to stress. This learning to “think with your heart” may be challenging at first, but it’s definitely worth it. If you faithfully learn this and regularly pay attention to areas of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment, you will evoke biochemical changes in your body over time that will recharge your adrenal batteries. (For assistance, I recommend the training programs and books from The Institute of HeartMath.)
  • In addition, do more things that bring you pleasure and make you laugh and fewer activities that feel like obligations. Spend more time with people who make you feel good and less time with people who are draining.
  • Dwell more on what you like about yourself and less on what you see as your limitations. In short, have more fun! Make pleasure a priority instead of a luxury.
  • Allow yourself to accept nurturing and affection. If you didn’t learn how to do this as a child, you may need to practice it. Every morning before you get up, spend a minute or two reveling in a memory of a time you felt loved. Do the same at night. Imagine your heart being filled with this love. Use affirmations that help you feel deserving of this nurturing and love.
  • Follow a healthy, whole foods diet with minimal sugar and adequate protein. (Every meal or snack should contain some protein.) Avoid caffeine because it whips your adrenals into a frenzy. Also avoid fasting or cleansing regimens because they can weaken you further.
  • Take a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement.
  • Try herbal support, including:
    – Licorice root: This herb contains plant hormones that mimic the effects of cortisol. Start with a small amount and gradually work up to one-quarter teaspoon solid licorice root extract three times per day. Baschetti2 Make sure to monitor blood pressure, as licorice may increase blood pressure in susceptible individuals.
    – Siberian ginseng: One of the components of Siberian ginseng is related to a precursor for DHEA and cortisol. Try one 100 mg capsule two times a day. It can have a stimulating effect, though, so if it interferes with your sleep, take it before three p.m.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Sleep is the most effective approach to high adrenaline levels. Many women require eight to ten hours of sleep to function optimally. Try to go to bed by ten P.M. Getting to sleep on the earlier side of midnight is much more restorative to your adrenals than sleep that begins later in the night, even if you sleep late the next morning to get in your full amount of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular light-to-moderate exercise is helpful, but not so much that you feel depleted afterward. Pushing yourself beyond your limits weakens your adrenals even further, so start slowly—even if it’s only walking down your street and back. Then build up slowly.
  • Get more exposure to natural sunlight. This is not only good for your adrenal glands, but it boosts vitamin D, as well. Sunbathe only in the early morning or later afternoon, however, never in midday; and never get enough exposure to burn or even redden your skin. Work up to ten to fifteen minutes of exposure three to four times per week.
  • Prioritize. Make a list of your most important activities and commitments, and then let everything else go. Don’t agree to a new task or commitment unless it’s something that will recharge your batteries.

– See more at: http://www.drnorthrup.com/adrenal-exhaustion/#sthash.xNcKaxvS.dpuf

Let All Who Are Sick Come to the Elders of the Church and Be Anointed With Oil…

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Pope John Paul II anoints the sick

Pope John Paul II anoints the sick (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

I posted this on my church‘s private. closed Facebook page at the beginning of June. Now we are going to have a special healing service for those in chronic pain or who have chronic illnesses! I wrote:

“Would appreciate prayer. I am in my 25th year of having my Invisible Chronic Illness and it is well beyond a joke. I’ve tried countless treatments yet still I go on. You may see me in church and think I am fine. I’m not. Today I am massively resentful as this illness has decimated my life in every which way possible. .
Please pray for healing; for acceptance; for me to surrender this to God and for progress with fundraising for a new drug that has had a 67% success rate with sufferers of this disease in another EU country in a double blind trial there.
Sorry for the rant but I am sick to death of this.
Thanks for reading.”

The responses were positive. It became clear that many in the church did not know I had this illness and others spoke of their own struggles.