Attack on America
& The Chronically Ill
How to Avoid Taking Another
By Lisa Copen
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.
1. 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 some sweet innocent in these
old shows that take us back to some simpler times and calm us down.
2. 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.
3. 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 canít do a lot, but I can do something. How can I help?"
Collectively they have volunteered over 20,000 hours.
4. 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.
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
For free daily devotional by Christians with chronic
illness send an email to
Rest Ministries, Inc.
PO Box 502928
San Diego, CA 92150
toll-free 888-751-REST (7378)
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