Sleepless hunter

Chronic pain is something doctors and patients hate because it is hard to treat and often has a cause that has some element of mystery. Some of you may know that I had to retire early because of the “invisible illness” fibromyalgia. I am truly grateful to the NHS for all they have done to help me cope, and for the techniques and medications that help keep the pain under control.

But the illness may flare up at any time.

The photograph is of an owl prowling, flying just above the ground with those flame-orange eyes fixed on food. There is a grace and magnificence about the hunter at work, and yet a primal fear of the merciless efficiency of the predator.  Owls change from total stillness to silent flight in a moment; they are looking for the weak and vulnerable. Their hunting instinct never sleeps.

sleepless hunter 422Birdsprey2July16

This week my “sleepless hunter” has been fibromyalgia, suddenly sinking talons again into muscle and bone. Without warning, like the silently swooping owl, it strikes efficiently. For no apparent reason symptoms flare into life as the wings fan the dormant sparks into fire. It has been a reminder that I can’t take it for granted that the more relaxed life of a retired minister will always keep my hunter away.

Today’s post is a plea to us all: please keep your eyes and ears open so we can support and encourage those who are ill, especially for those who suffer the “invisible illnesses.”  It seems easier to care for the ones in hospital, or carrying a limb in plaster. The ones who may look OK on the outside aren’t noticed. Please pray for the people you know with MS or ME, fibro and COPD, with chronic pain or with mental illness.

Tomorrow I may be feeling better again. Or not. Good days are treasured but not guaranteed. Here’s one of my favourite psalms about the God who guards our lives: the “sleepless hunter” faces an unsleeping Guardian. Truly and reverently I say: Thank God.

Psalm 121:1-8 (Message)
I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? My strength comes from GOD, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. GOD‘s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you—  Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. GOD guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.

 

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Victims of fibromyalgia find that one of the hardest things to bear is the lack of understanding of their condition. Because we look OK (sometimes anyway!) on the outside and don’t have plaster casts, bandages or scars, it may be assumed that we are OK. We aren’t.

Chronic pain, severe fatigue and difficulty coping don’t always show visibly. (If you’d like to read more, see  https://wordpress.com/page/lookseepray.com/25  where I offer my understanding of “invisible” illness.)

I am managing quite well. The doctors have put together a package of care for me which is helping. It’s not a cure- but I am VERY grateful to be improving at the moment. I was able to retire early, so I can pace myself and not overdo stuff. Not everyone can retire…

If you encounter someone with fibro, you can help with sympathy, care, and if you’d like to pray, that would be great. We would love to see properly funded research, and good training for GPs and nurses since not all are as well informed or helpful as they might be!  That isn’t a dig at the medical professions, who are generally wonderful, but they can’t be expert on every condition- and fibro is hard to diagnose and treat. Public pressure on politicians and the DHSS needs to be kept up.

You may see purple butterflies or flowers: they’ve  been adopted as a fibro “badge” to help boost the public perception. The slogan is “Not all disabilities are visible.” Here is my purple flower contribution! A purple Iris- the yellow says the sun still shines.  🙂

_012garden in June15

More info available from the NHS websites, or the Fibromyalgia Association,  http://www.fmauk.org/  or a very good website at   http://ukfibromyalgia.com/index.php  – or look on Facebook for support groups.