What is right?

moralThere are so many ethical issues that we have today. Some of them almost seem insoluble. Advancements in gene studies have given us major things to wrestle with. Where do we draw the line.

When I was working in Neonatal Intensive Care ( many moons ago) there already was the issue of which babies should be saved and which ones to let go. King Solomon wouldn’t know what to do. Now it is even worse. We do invitro  fertilization and have eggs left over. Scientists want to use eggs that will be discarded tto get stem cells which can be used to help many diseases. Are they “potential” babies or not?

Medicine has challenged many ethical and moral ideas over the centuries. We can do so many things that were not done before. We are living a lot longer and there is a question about prolonging life beyond what is reasonable and moral. Are we using up resources that could better be used for others?

pathThe Bible does help us with its basic moral ground but these things were not issues when the Bible was written. We have to learn to ask questions and spend time understanding the answers in order to make judgments.  Even then there may not be any clear path. Sometimes there are two good choices….sometimes two bad. Who is to decide? It seems that it is up to each of us to understand and make a decision based on our own beliefs. This means that there will be differing opinions and we will have to learn to accept that others may not agree with us. It is important for us to view their decision with tolerance even if they can’t see ours.

God, as always, will be present and knows that we will try to make the best decisions with prayer and compassion.

Help us find caring

mentalI was watching a story on netflix this morning. It was the true story of a family who lost the father to suicide. I had many questions while watching this. It seems that all of the children had major issues. I think several of them were Autistic although, if so, their affect on the show did not show it. The family seemed loving but overwhelmed. Just watching it I found myself diagnosing each of them…right or not. The father seemed manic depressive (I forget what the new name is). The family took many videos over the years and maybe that’s why they were chosen for this.

It reminded me how mental illness (and many other illnesses) run in families. Sometimes I wonder if we had a clear view of our own problems would we chose to have children and pass our issues on to the next generation. However, I think it takes living for us to discover how we will react to life. Knowing our mental issues is much more difficult than the physical ones. It is not so obvious especially to us. That is, unless it is a critical and obvious problem.

There is help for so many issues today but to seek them is to admit that they are there. That is the hardest part. Add to it the fact that mental illness has been such an avoided subject and those who suffer have been outcasts. There is also the problem of affording treatment. The family I viewed seem to be British so I am thinking they had some access to care. Here in the US mental health is the least funded of any illness. Insurance companies only understand dollars and cents and it is difficult to show that no treatment initially will be more costly later.

Having done Case Management, that is how decisions are made regarding treatment. If we don’t treat this will it cost us more money in the long tun? Can you show me that it will? This is a terrible way to determine care.

There are not as many people who have acute mental health problems as there are those of us who have episodic or milder issues. Because of that getting treatment is harder. Money is part of the issue and knowing that we need help and seeking it is the other part.

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I hope that looking at the person as body, mind, and spirit will help us to look at all aspects of a person and treat anything that prevents us from being whole. Which, by the way, is related to the word holy. This is how God created us to be. Whole, holy people.

I am NOT in charge!

vacationIt is wonderful to go away for vacation and I always look forward to coming home. Two positives. However, this time I should have stayed on vacation. The morning after I arrived home one of our basset hounds had diarrhea everywhere. It was so bad that I actually trashed two rugs that were old. They will go to the dump.

We were sure it was our male basset as he is on medicine that could cause that to happen. While I cleaned up my husband called the vet and got time to take him in. Just before going out the door our female basset had another bout of diarrhea and we realized she had the problem. Almost took the wrong dog!

disasterThe vet gave her meds but her problem continued the next morning and finally stopped. So another day of cleanup. Then the male dog threw up. He is prone to eat too fast and choke. Another clean up. By this time I am sure I had cleaned every floor in the house so that’s one good thing. Both dogs seem to be ok now.

Yesterday I began to feel as if I was coming down with something and sure enough I now have a cold. Just your ordinary …garden variety cold but I feel yuk. Can I go away and start over?

The good new is that I was supposed to start a class at 8:00 am the morning after I arrived home. It was to go 8-4 for three and 1/2 days. The class was canceled which proves that God is definitely in charge. Although life was challenging for the last few days and I still have a cold it could have been worse.

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Thank you God for being in control. Life would not be possible without you!

There Remains Hope

hidingIt is only in the last few years that I have realized that anxiety (and related problems) runs in families. It may manifest itself differently in each person but those descended from us may have it. Since there are two people involved in conception it is not 100% that a family member will have it. In my family I now realize that there are several of us who suffer with some form of this. More than one of us has some anxiety, OCD, depression and/or inability to sleep. The only light is that they can see at the end of the tunnel me still moving along at 76. They can feel comfortable that it is possible to manage these problems and live a good life. In the early years of my life anxiety, depression etc were not understood or talked about. Where women were concerned it was brushed off. In the south it was often called the “vapors” and you could go to a hospital to return to a calm demeanor. Some women just kept to their rooms. I am sure that most of you have read or seen Pride and Prejudice where the mother is constantly in a state of anxiety.

As the years went on I learned that certain situations caused me extreme stress with some symptoms of anxiety such as sleeplessness, increased heart rate, etc. I had one panic attack in college and the school had a psychiatrist who gave me ?Valium short term. I felt there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t face some things without anxiety. I tried so hard to change but nothing helped. I felt guilty for being the way I was and never talked about it. It was a no no subject.

hopeThank God things have changed. The invention of anti-depressants and other meds that can help the symptoms make this no longer a guilty secret. I know that my problem is mild compared to many and that I am not crazy. This is the information that I feel the need to pass on to anyone suffering from these disorders ,,,,especially to those I love.

You can live a full life. You don’t have to hide or be ashamed. Doctors now realize that this a brain wiring problem and much research is being done on the brain to identify where the various problems are located and what can be done to help. This also doesn’t mean that you must be born with it. Extreme trauma such as PTSD can cause the wiring glitch. There is a recent book by a lifelong anxiety sufferer called On Edge – A journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Peterson. It can be a tough read but she has done major research with scientists who are studying the problems. It may or may not be something you want to read but I found it enlightening.

The most important thing to remember is that we are not some weird creation. “God didn’t make junk.” (from marriage encounter) We have issues just like everyone else. Ours were taboo for a long while but that has changed and will continue to as more research is done. Hang in there! I lived through “the dark ages” and have a wonderful husband and family. Life is good most of the time. You can do it!

See the Whole Person!

Today I had another medical test to understand why I am low in iron. I decided to explore on the web if anyone is connecting this abnormality to stress, grief and anxiety and discovered that indeed this is on the research radar.

As a nurse I have long been aware of the impact of grief and stress on the human body. Until now I don’t think that the medical field has paid enough attention to how our emotional life is reflected in our bodies. We have not long practiced holistic medicine. It is critical to understand that we are complex beings and that anything that impacts us is related to our health.

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I hope that the pendulum is swinging back and that the whole picture needs to be taken into consideration. This is not easy for those in the medical field since we have a specialty for every part of our body. We are blessed if we have a primary physician who puts all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Too often our spiritual life is not taken into consideration at all. How we consider our relationship to God or whatever spiritual practice is a key link in the chain. In a world where connection with the divine is shrinking we are likely to see more people with both physical and emotional/mental issues.

I have written a good bit about connections and feel strongly that having some connections with other human beings is critical to our well being. With so many of us loving dogs and understanding that they like being pack members should remind us that we are also communal beings. Throughout history we have related to other humans and lived in communal settings. Unfortunately, our current use of technology can lessen our personal connections. Technology helps us when we need to find connections outside of our local area but we also need face to face and touch.

I hope that we can marry the best of the old ways with the new and make a world where we don’t have to feel that we are alone. Also a world where the whole person is taken into consideration when examining our medical issues. Without these things we will see more of us suffering with depression, anxiety and stress related illness.