Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fibromyalgia Drug Market Will Experience Minimal Growth?????

Our beautiful niece, who is the wife of a member of the Armed Forces and mother of two adorable sons, suffers from chronic pain.  I think somewhere in the back of our mind we always hope that not only our children but our nieces and nephews as well, will want to follow in our footsteps.  Sharing my chronic pain was never the way I would have chosen for her. 
Yesterday she sent the following to an on-line support group we both belong to.

In the 1500's William Shakespeare wrote...we are not ourselves when nature, being oppressed, commands the mind to suffer with the body. [King Lear]
 and in the 1700's Alexander Pope wrote what I consider to be the first draft of the spoon theory: You purchase pain with all that joy can give, and die of nothing but a rage to live. 
So why is it so difficult to get doctors to take chronic pain seriously? I wish I had the scientific ability to help us. The people who do seem to have the knowledge don't have the desperate (personal) need to find a better way.
Sigh. Thanks for listening to me vent.
 After reading her email and wishing that I had some wonderful words of wisdom that would take her pain away, I went to Facebook.  I belong to several fibromyalgia related pages there and the first one I looked at gave me a slap in the face. There it was is big bold print – “The Fibromyalgia Drug Market Will Experience Minimal Growth over the Next Decade, Increasing from Nearly $1.6 Billion in 2010 to Less Than $1.8 Billion in 2020”.  What????  There is still not a drug that successfully treats everyone.  There is still not a drug that you don’t have to choose between less pain and horrific side effects.  The press release came from Decision Resources, a research and advisory firm for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues. In the last two paragraphs, they admit that there is “significant unmet need”.

Because fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to treat—its symptoms vary widely from patient to patient and can include pain, depression, fatigue and sleep dysfunction—significant unmet need remains for effective treatments. 

“Even the leading, FDA-approved drugs for fibromyalgia have limited efficacy and tolerability,” said Decision Resources Analyst Andrea Buurma. “As a result, ample opportunity remains in this patient population for therapies that can demonstrate efficacy while also offering acceptable safety profiles.” 
The American Chronic Pain Association estimates that there are about 86 million people in the United States that cope with some form of chronic pain Fibromyalgia syndrome is one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the world. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, 3-6% of the world’s population has fibromyalgia syndrome. With a projected world population of 6,816,322,780 in April 2010 (based on the US Census Bureau’s US and World Population Clocks), this estimate would mean that somewhere around 200 million to 400 million people worldwide have fibromyalgia syndrome.  In the United States the number is estimated to be around 3 to 6 million people.  This number varies from organization to organization. The NWHIC (National Women's Health Information Centre – part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) suggests that the figures could be as high as 8 million.

Given those numbers and the industry’s own admission that there is a significant unmet need, why are they cutting back on drug research?  I followed the link in the press release to Decision Resources website to read the full report. Down towards the bottom I found the answer – money.

The two sales-leading fibromyalgia agents (i.e., pregabalin and duloxetine) will face generic competition during the 2010-2020 forecast period. How will the patent expiry of each branded agent affect the sales of other fibromyalgia therapies and the market as a whole? How will patent expiries influence physician prescribing habits in the different markets? To what extent will generic presence of these two agents affect the commercial potential of emerging therapies?
A controlled-release formulation of pregabalin is expected to launch for fibromyalgia during our forecast period. What advantages does this formulation offer over immediate-release pregabalin, and will they be sufficient to compete with generically available pregabalin (expected by 2019)? What are thought leaders’ opinions on this agent’s potential in the fibromyalgia market? Are any other therapies in development for fibromyalgia expected to launch during the ten-year forecast period?

Research is going to slow down because the major players in the game, pregabalin and duloxetine (Lyrica and Cymbalta) will become generic soon.  Research is going to slow down because an extended release version of Lyrica is expected to come on the market. Research is going to slow down because of what may happen. Ten years is a lot of time no matter how you look at it.  In research, it’s a huge amount of time.  How much time is going to be lost on finding “the drug” that could possibly give us at least a portion of our life back?  Research time will be wasted because of what may happen.  

Those of us who suffer from chronic pain, no matter what its cause, have the right to have our pain prevented or controlled adequately.  We don’t like taking medication.  The majority of fibromyalgia patients must take them to be able to function. The longer we take a medication, the less effective it is.  The longer we suffer from fibromyalgia the more it progresses, taking a little bit more of our life away every day.  Every day that we wait for adequate pain control, is a lost day in our lives. Slowing down research for 10 years means the potential of 3,650 lost days. That’s almost 4,000 days that we aren’t able to be the person that we want to be.  It’s missed school plays and play dates.  It’s missed dinners at home with our family sharing the day’s happenings and missed dinners alone with our spouse.  It’s days that we see our family off to have fun without us.  Days where we smile and tell them to have a great time as they are leaving. Days making us feel even more outcast and alone because of our pain.

I’m obviously not a medical professional or a medical researcher.  I am someone who suffers 24/7 from the pain of Fibromyalgia and the changes that it’s caused in my life.  I am someone who can’t tolerate some of the drugs available. I have taken the drugs that do help for so long that they are losing their effectiveness.  I know that everyone that advocates for a disease thinks that all research money should go to their researchers. And I do understand that businesses need to show a profit to stay in business.  All that I ask is that the drug companies at least maintain their current levels of research. Maybe they won’t see much financial reward from it in the next ten years but they may find “the drug” that will be the answer for us. The drug manufacturers have the ability to give us hope not only for us but for those who follow after us.

The people who do seem to have the knowledge don't have the desperate (personal) need to find a better way.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fibromyalgia, Depression and God - He will see you through

When you have a crazy illness like Fibromyalgia it’s easy for depression to jump in the midst of all the medical stuff we have going on.  It is so easy to give in to it.  I know.  I’ve been there recently when I had my Social Security Disability hearing.  Seeing all the cold, hard facts on paper about how bad my illness is really got to me.  That’s what sent me spiraling down to depression.  I had to face that I am physically no longer the same person.

Joy came back to my life when I actually listened to those around me.  From spending quality time with my grandchildren to my wonderful husband telling me once again that he loved me with all his heart even with all the craziness my illness had brought upon us. I realized that there were people who loved me just as I am and needed me just as I am, no matter how messed up my body and mind is.  Our hearts are still the same as they were before.  Most of all God can still use me in spite of all this to touch someone else.  

Being depressed is not a weakness on our part.  It’s a case of the chemicals in our brains not reacting correctly.  If we stay calm and allow our medicines to do their job, we’ll be fine.  Yes, sometimes they need to be tinkered with and/or changed but they do their job.  How can we stay calm?  Trust me, I’ve questioned that many times. When I need comfort I turn to the Psalms and to Proverbs.  When David wrote Psalm 139 I suspect that he was depressed.  David reminds us in his writing that no matter where we are – physically or emotionally – God is there with us - 

 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  I’ve even been known to just hold my Bible close to my heart when that was all that I could do.
While doing a search for Bible verses dealing with depression, I am across
True   I've not read much there but this entry makes sense to me:

Does Scripture memory sound like “just another thing to do” on an already overwhelming to-do list? What if you learned it was one of the greatest weapons with which to battle discouragement and depression in your life? Would that pique your interest a bit more? 
I admit, I’ve gotten a head start, and Psalm 139 has been a lifeline the past month or so.
  • When I’m feeling fearful, I remind myself that His hand is leading me and His right hand (His strong, victorious hand) is holding me (v. 10).
  • When I’m feeling frustrated by my intense personality and ever-fluctuating emotions, I remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (v. 14).
  • And when I’m worrying about what the future holds, I remember that “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (v. 16).
And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t take my word for it, though—open the Word and personalize these truths for yourself—they will offer hope and help to you over and over again!
Would you leave a comment below if you plan to join us this month? Your comment doesn’t need to be long—you can just say “I’m in!” 

PS: As a recovering perfectionist, I feel the need to state the obvious. Any bit of memorizing—or even just reading—is better than none at all. If you memorize just one verse this month, you’re not a failure! Rather, you have one more verse in your weaponry as you battle stray emotions and discouraging circumstances. (Whew, glad we got that cleared up!) 

They recommend starting with just these four verses and then going on to memorize the full Psalm so that it is always in your heart.

 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
   were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:1-24

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
    For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
 1 O LORD, you have searched me
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you know it completely, O LORD.
 5 You hem me in—behind and before;
   you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths,[a] you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
   were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
 17 How precious to[b] me are your thoughts, O God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
   I am still with you.
 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
   Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
   your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
   and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
   I count them my enemies.
 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.
  1. Psalm 139:8 Hebrew Sheol
  2. Psalm 139:17 Or concerning

I have learned the hard way that even when we do not see Him active in our lives when we think we need Him most, He is still there.  He knows our hearts, He knows our needs, and He will provide for us.  There have been times when I have prayed for Jesus to come into my heart as my Savior, even though I did it long ago and one sincere prayer is all it takes.  For some reason, maybe I just needed to remind myself that He has been with me every step of the way since I was in fifth grade and I prayed that prayer on the front porch swing.  Whatever the reason, I was able to feel His presence again, giving me the comfort I needed.

I will survive.  God is by my side.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fibromyaliga Can Be a Blessing. It's All in How You Look at It.

Friday on one of the fibro support groups I belong to on Facebook, several people said that they felt blessed to have Fibromyalgia.  This created quite an uproar and they were called unkind, crazy, etc.  My pain levels were too high to stay online for long that day.  I offered a suggestion to solve someone’s dilemma they had posted about and signed off the computer.  When I got back on this morning, the discussion had grown to 66 comments.  As I started to write a response I realized that it would be way too long to read as a post so I moved here to my blog where I say what’s on my mind.  I think you’ll find that I’m pretty passionate about this.

To the group of people that say that Fibromyalgia is not a blessing – I agree.  It is not a blessing that I had to stop work at age 52 after I had just gone back to school and gotten a degree that would allow me to find a better paying job.  It is not a blessing that we struggle because we only have 50% of my income.  It’s not a blessing that I have to try and talk my hubby into going and doing activities we had planned and when it comes time to do them I am unable to go.  It’s not a blessing that I had to give up my duties as a Eucharistic Minister at my church.  It’s not a blessing that my cognitive function has diminished to the point that I have very little short term memory left.

However, there are ways to turn all of that into a blessing. It’s how we look at the life that we’ve been given. It’s a blessing that I can no longer work because as career driven as I had become, it would more than likely destroyed my marriage.  My marriage is worth more than any paycheck or the luxuries that it would provide. It’s a blessing that my employer had paid for the Long Term Disability insurance so that we do have 50% of my income while I not so patiently wait on my Social Security Disability hearing.  It’s a blessing that when the economy fell and my hubby had to change careers and go into retail to find a job, I’m home to spend his days off with him. If I was still working Monday - Friday, 9 to 5, we'd never have the same days off. It’s a blessing that I have learned to encourage my hubby to go do things with the guys and not worry about me being home.  We appreciate each other more when he comes home.  It’s a blessing that when I could no longer serve as a Eucharist minister, a position in the altar guild opened up so I’m blessed to be able to prepare the altar for Eucharist.  I’m blessed to still be able to serve my Savior and my church.

I am blessed because the Lord put me and my now best friend on the same Yahoo group at just the right time for us to meet.  I’m blessed to have a best friend who loves the Lord, who has Fibromyalgia, who loves being a homemaker like I do and who loves to sew and is happy being “domestic”.  That’s the job description I have now and I love it and feel blessed for the opportunity.  I blessed to be a homemaker.  There are many days when I can’t clean or cook.  But I can be here to offer my hubby a cold drink when he comes in at the end of the day.  I am blessed because I have the time to sew for family, friends and charities. 

I feel blessed because "all" I have wrong is Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Myofascial Pain, Peripheral Neuropathy and severe edema in my legs and feet.  I am blessed because unlike my BIL who died of cancer or my friend who died of a brain aneurysm, I am here to witness the birth of my grandchildren and to watch them grow up. I get the joy having my seven year old granddaughter ask me to teach her to sew and my nine year old grandson asking me to teach him to bake after watching me make hamburger buns one day.  I am blessed to see my year old goddaughter run to me down the aisle at church with a huge grin on her face.

I'm blessed because 11 years ago this week, I met the most wonderful man who loves me for who I am, whose heart breaks that he can't do more for me.  I am blessed with two wonderful children who do all they can to help by cleaning my house and helping with projects that my hubby can't get time to do.  I am blessed that my grandchildren understand that MiMi’s muscles don’t work right and they find things for us to do together that will be easy for me.  I am blessed to have friends that can look and me and know that it’s not a good day even when I tell them it is.  I am blessed that when I walked into church last night my priest knew how much pain I was in from the pulpit just by looking at my face.  When it came time for healing prayers, he stepped down to the pew level so that I didn’t have to step the 3 steps up to where he usually stands.  I am blessed that even though my pain is cutting through my waist like a hot knife right now, I able to use the computer to tell others that there is hope.

There is hope for us and we cannot give up.  Giving up is what causes our life to fall apart.  Giving up is why we lose our happiness.  Giving up is what causes us to miss out on the pleasures of life.  Giving up is when we refuse to keep going by refusing to use canes, walkers and wheelchairs.  Giving up is when we are too proud to allow friends and family to help us.  Giving up is not the answer.

If you pain is too bad for you to function and your doctor is not willing to prescribe the stronger medicine you need, find another doctor.  It’s you right to do so.  If you are worried about becoming addicted to a narcotic pain reliever, get over it.  If that’s what it takes to manage your pain so that you can enjoy life, take it. There’s a difference between addiction and it being a medically necessary drug for you to maintain your life.  You aren’t taking them for “fun”.

Use those canes, walkers and wheelchairs so that you can go out to dinner or the park with your family.  Don’t be ashamed to have a handicapped tag or hang tag for your car. Take your medications with you and pack a small cooler with snacks and something to drink. Plan several days ahead for an outing and limit your activity so that you have the energy to go out.  Yes, you may “pay” for it afterward but what’s worse – feeling sorry for yourself because you couldn’t go or being tired with more pain but with the wonderful memories of the day you had with family and friends.

All I ask is that you think about it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Being Persistant

Persistent.  What do you think of when you hear that word?  Several things come to my mind, some good and some that can be aggravating. Our dog, Woody, is very persistent. He’s fed everyday  at 5:00 pm and you can set your watch by him appearing by his food bowl.  If I don’t feed him at 5:00 on the dot he comes looking for me. Sometimes he sits and stares at me. Loosing a staring match to a dog can be rather humbling. LOL  Should the staring not work, Woody goes to plan B.  Plan B involves him laying his chin on your knee if you are sitting where he can. If that’s not possible, Woody will nudge your arm, leg, whatever he can reach   with his nose.  Should Mom or Dad be able to ignore both plan A and plan B, he barks persistently.  Barking is something I can’t ignore so I will stop what I’m doing to go feed him. It’s not like Woody is going to die from starvation if his food is a little late arriving.  He’s a 95 pound basset/lab mix. There’s enough body fat on our sweet puppy for him to survive an extra 15 minutes without food. Woody is well behaved and persistent.  His behavior regarding dinner time fits in with Og Mandino’s Scroll Three - I will persist until I succeed. Woody has this principle mastered.

Mandino listed 9 keys to mastering this principle.  We’ll look at each one separately.

Key 1.  Be brave – I am not an outgoing person by nature.  People who know me well will argue the point.  Once I'm comfortable with you I’m eager to add my part to the conversation or activity.  If I have just met you or have not reached the necessary comfort level with you, I’m not going to be saying or doing much.  Woody doesn’t care what is going on when it’s dinner time.  He bravely goes forth to capture what is his!  “In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.” -John 16:33 New Century Version

 Key 2.  Be self-motivated – Self motivation is difficult for some of us.  Not being self motivated can lead to trouble if you are self-employed, have limited supervision at work or have important personal business that needs to taken care of. For the self employed, no or very little work leaves you no income.  You must produce your product before it can be sold.  If you are employed in a position where you have limited supervision, it’s easy to get distracted resulting in missed deadlines, poor performance and possible job loss.  Not taking care of your personal business can leave bills unpaid; cause you to owe unnecessary late fees and other negative outcomes. Self motivation is necessary for us to accomplish our required tasks.  Woody is self motivated to be sure he eats on time so he is persistent.  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.  Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV)

Key 3.  Take another step – Don’t be afraid to keep stepping out with persistence.  Like Woody trying to get our attention to feed him, we cannot give up until we reach our goal.  Bravely take the first step and the additional ones necessary for success until you are running toward your goal.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

 Key 4.  Do the little things consistently – Little things can often be the direct cause of huge problems.  These little things can range from household tasks to customer service in your business.  Because it’s a small amount in the midst of the 3 cups of flour, it’s easy to forget the two teaspoons of yeast when baking bread.  Forgetting to add the yeast turns the loaf of bread into a door stop.  Some of the items on our daily to-do list are little things but they have to be done on a daily basis to keep our household or business running smoothly.  Loading the dishwasher after a meal, wiping down the counters and stove top and sweeping the kitchen floor are all “little things”.  They are also tasks that if left undone for several days create a big problem when it comes to providing your family a nutritious meal and a comfortable home.  If you’ve not loaded and run the dishwasher and the sink and counter are overflowing with dirty dishes it can cause problems.  Not only is it difficult to find a place to prepare a meal, you may not have clean dishes and tools that you need.  The floor covered with crumbs and dirt is not only unsightly but can invite pests into your home creating a big problem.  I occasionally sell items on Etsy and when I do, I try to make the package inviting to my customer.  I wrapped a pattern in tissue paper and tied it with curly ribbon finishing it off with a bow.  It was a little thing but the customer was so excited about it that she made mention of it in her feedback.  It’s the little things like wrapping the package or following up by calling or sending a card to those who have previously done business with you that goes a long way to building a dedicated customer following.  Doing the little things consistently instills them as a daily habit in your mind and pays off big in the end. 

Key 5.  Eliminate negative self-talk – I have a tendency to talk very negatively to myself about me. I’m my own worse enemy sometime.  Because of my health problems, I sometimes feel that I’m a burden to my husband and children.  I see myself as someone who can no longer pull my weight around the house in things like housework and yard work.  Even though I have income to contribute to the family expenses, I see myself as not doing enough.  Because of my pain and fatigue, I can’t consistently create items to sell to supplement our income.  It can be months at a time between my being able to create.  Instead of negative self-talk, I should be using positive self-talk.  It’s important to your mental and physical health to think positively about yourself and your abilities.  Negative self-talk can cause depression problems that in turn cause you to be stressed, sad, uncertain, and unable to perform the tasks at hand.  If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? 

Key 6.  Reframe Refusal - You’ve done everything right, bravely setting out to accomplish your goal.  You are on top of your game, motivated and confident.  Presenting your product or proposal to the boss or potential client went off without a glitch in your mind.  Grinning ear to ear, you leave the meeting sure that they will choose you for the project.  Even when you don’t hear from them in the time you expected, you are still excited and ready to get started.  Finally you hear from them.  Unfortunately, they have decided not to use you for the job.  Don’t go back to the world of negative self-talk.  Instead take time to reevaluate your product, proposal and presentation.  Possibly your product was not a good fit for the company’s needs.  People all take information in differently so perhaps your audience would have done better with handouts for your oral presentation.  Instead of giving up, reframe your ideas, be brave and keep moving forward.

Key 7.  Overcome Obstacles – In a way, this key goes hand in hand with the one before it.  Don’t let running into an obstacle stop you in your tracks.  Obstacles don’t end your plans; they merely put a detour in them.  Use the challenge of this interruption of your plans to look for a better method of doing things.  Look at all the options at hand, choose the best one and keep moving forward.  

Key 8.  End each day with success – So how do we end each day with success when we haven’t made a big sale, gotten a new contract or won the lottery?  Success comes in many shapes and sizes.  Your success may be claimed through another person. Here’s an example – your child has been having a really hard time with his math lessons.  Every night you have worked on sample problems together to help him understand the concept.  He has bravely taken a new step forward every night and his understanding is increasing. Today he had a big test.  Instead of coming home with a sad face and a low grade, today he came running in with a huge smile and an A on the test!  You can both end the day with success.  Your son has overcome the obstacles in his way of learning the math concepts and had a successful day by getting a good math grade.  You have the pleasure of knowing that you had successfully guided him over the obstacle that had stood in his way. Remember Key 4, Do the little things consistently?  If you’ve consistently done the little things today, you’ve ended your day with success.  You may have to stop and think over but I’m sure you’ll find success in your day.

Key 9.  Sustain momentum – Now that you have your keys to keeping on the road to success, keep going! Your momentum will keep you rolling on the way to your goals if you keep your feet off the breaks.  Following these nine keys consistently, you will allow you to develop new habits that help eliminate procrastination and create attitudes of perseverance and action.  You can do it!!  Persist to Success! 

Note:  The Scrolls and Keys are from Og Mindino’s website. The comments are not based on his writings but are my thoughts on the subject.                   

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We are Unique Miracles of God

Og Mandino’s Scroll Four is I am nature’s greatest miracle.  We are all nature’s greatest miracle.  Nothing in nature compares to the miracle of birth.  It’s an amazing event.  Psalm 139 tells us about how God shaped and molded us even before we were born.  God valued us even before we were able to do anything on our own.  He values us enough that from the very beginning He has a plan for our lives.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
   were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
Each one of us is unique.  No two people are exactly alike.  New research is finding that even identical twins have a few differences.   Because God has a plan for us He gave us the necessary abilities and talents to live according to that plan.  Mandino wrote that we should recognize our unique strengths, talents and abilities and celebrate them.  Have you taken an assessment of your abilities and talents?  These abilities and talents are unique to you.  Understand them, embrace them and with a strong sense of purpose, go forward to a new life.  Obstacles may cross your path but look at them at opportunities to use your God given talents to the fullest.

Look at obstacles as opportunities?  Throughout my life I’ve had many obstacles that I have looked at as opportunities.  I think I crossed those obstacles well with God’s help.  When I was fifty, I went back to school and got my associates degree in paralegal studies. In my mind, I finally crossed that last obstacle that was the difference between having a job and having a career.  I was so sure that I had properly assessed my strengths, talents and abilities and celebrated them.  I burnt the candle at both ends and worked full time while going to school full time.  I kept up with my work and school work in order to have a 4.0 GPA until my last semester.  

During my last semester of school, things began to get harder than they had ever been.  I began to notice that my once nearly perfect memory was not so perfect anymore.  Physically it was beginning to get hard to walk from the car to the building at work and school.  Convinced that I was just tired after two years of work, study and very little sleep, I didn’t think much of it.  I was sure that once I was getting eight hours of sleep every night and going home after work instead of to school, everything would be back to “normal”.  I’m still waiting for things to be back to “normal”.  

I moved into my new role as a paralegal eager to learn as much as I could.  I even gave thought to law school.  Things did get a little better, for a while.  I graduated in May.  By November, things were beginning to fall apart. My memory was getting worse, not better.  I was making so many notes but then couldn’t remember that I had made notes.  It was difficult to get up and be at work on time no matter what time I went to bed.  My wonderful husband became concerned because I was going to bed earlier and earlier.  Finally, in March I could no longer grasp new concepts.  Not only was I not grasping them, I was forgetting even being taught the new tasks.  The fatigue was so bad that many a time I thought I was going to have to sit down on a curb and rest to make it from the car to the building.  The pain kept increasing to the point that I would throw up in the mornings.  Finally on May 1, I could do it no longer.  I came home never to return to the working world again.  I’m not sure how long it actually was but it seemed like I slept for most of the next three months.  Two years later, I still suffer the pain, the fatigue, the memory loss.  It is a part of my new life and will never go away. It's an obstacle that I'm not sure how to overcome.  I have no idea how to look at Fibromyalgia as an opportunity.

Is it possible to be unique with abilities and talents only to have those no longer be part of your life?  Is it possible that God has another plan for me with its own set of abilities and talents?  I’m not sure but it’s beginning to seem so.  Only through prayer, faith in God and patience will I know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Starting a New Life

Yesterday we talked about seeking guidance when making decisions. Every decision we make should be brought to the Lord for His input in the decision making process. Only then can we be confident that we are following His will.  Since I have that valuable lesson under my belt, it’s time to move on in Og Mandino’s principles for changing your life. Scroll One is “Today I begin a new life”. 

I've had several "lives".  Lives as a daughter, a wife, a mother.  My most important "life" began when I was in fifth grade.  One warm spring afternoon I was sitting alone in the front porch swing going over the events of the spring revival at our church.  Almost all of my Sunday School class had made the walk down the aisle professing their faith during the revival.  Several of them had encouraged me to come with them because “everyone was doing it”.  That didn’t seem like the right reason to do it so I sat all alone in the pew while everyone else was congratulated for making this life changing decision.  After I replayed everything and thought about the sermons we had heard, I remember looking up to the beautiful blue sky and saying “Lord, I believe.  I believe that you sent your Son to die on the cross and save me from my sins.” It was a day that I remember so vividly 40 something years later.  I had claimed the new life promised to me in the book of Romans.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
Now, I’m two years into retirement several years earlier than I had envisioned.  I suffer from Fibromyalgia, Myofasical Pain Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy and edema. Life is nothing like it was four or five years ago. My days are spent dealing with chronic pain and fatigue.  Some days are not so bad and I can almost forget that I have these problems.  Other days I can barely move to get out of bed and doing anything productive is not going to happen.  I will admit it.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it.  God has a plan for the next stage in my life.  If I am to remain in His will, then I have to accept it and move on with my life.  I am claiming the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 as the next step of my new life.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”

Now that I've made up my mind that it is time to begin the next chapter in my life, where do I start?  How do I do it?  Praying for guidance has to be first and foremost in my mind. I have to trust God that with His help that I am capable of building a new life. Philippians 4:13 has long been my life verse:” I can do everything through him who gives me strength”. I’ll be repeating that verse over and over again along this journey as I reject the idea of failure.  I refuse to accept failure!   Since failure is not a possibility, I’ll be praying for guidance and learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before me. My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it. 

One thing I’ve realized is that I procrastinate a lot. Previously, I never procrastinated.  I wanted things done and marked off my to-do list.  Now procrastination is the first habit that I have to get rid of.  I believe that a good bit of my procrastination is due to being afraid to fail. I'm not accustomed to failure so if I don’t start a project then I can’t fail.  I’ve lost a lot of self confidence since I’ve been ill. My short term memory can be nonexistent some days and the pain and neuropathy hinder my ability to do many things.  These are real stumbling blocks but I have to overcome them and quit putting things off.  I looked up procrastination and when I was reading about it on Wikipedia, it was like someone had been watching me.  Here’s what it said:

The tense-afraid type of procrastinators usually feel overwhelmed with pressure, unrealistic about time, uncertain about goals, and many other negative feelings. They may feel a sense of malaise. Feeling that they lack the ability or focus to successfully complete their work, they tell themselves that they need to unwind and relax, that it's better to take it easy for the afternoon, for example, and start afresh in the morning. They usually have grandiose plans that aren't realistic. Their 'relaxing' is often temporary and ineffective, and leads to even more stress as time runs out, deadlines approach and the person feels increasingly guilty and apprehensive. This behavior becomes a cycle of failure and delay, as plans and goals are put off, penciled into the following day or week in the diary again and again. It can also have a debilitating effect on their personal lives and relationships. Since they are uncertain about their goals, they often feel awkward with people who appear confident and goal-oriented, which can lead to depression. Tense-afraid procrastinators often withdraw from social life, avoiding contact even with close friends.
My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it.  I pressure myself, setting unrealistic time lines without being clear what it is I really want to accomplish. I end up accomplishing nothing but disappointing myself becoming as frustrated as I was when I did something but didn’t accomplish what I set out to do.  In my new life, that has to change.  Procrastination is a time waster and a stress builder that I don’t need in my life.  It is out the door – gone from my life!

My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it.  To be successful with making the change, I have to form good habits to help me in my new life.  Habits, good or bad, are who you are.  They control your life if you let them.  By learning to control my habits, I can make constant progress toward my new life.  I’ve often read that if you focus on a new habit for thirty days it will become a part of you.  In that length of time, your brain should be conditioned for the new habit to be part of your life without even thinking about it.  At this stage there is a chance of problems throwing you off so you still have to be diligent in adding the habit to your life. After ninety days, the changes you have made are a part of your life to the point that without it, things are difficult. At the one year point, it’s firmly established as part of your life.  These new changes need to be simple so that they can be consistently achieved every day.  To accomplish this, I’ll will pray for guidance and help in putting these changes to work.  God transforms our hearts when we accept him into our live.  He will change our lives as well. “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)

My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it. I will make a new life with God's help.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Will Seek Guidance

If you’ve read this blog for the last few days you know that I discovered Og Mandino’s Ten Scrolls or principles for changing your life.  Over the next week or so, I’ll be exploring each one, looking to the Bible for reinforcement.  I’ll be looking for ways to implement changes in my life to help me become productive in retirement.  When I envisioned retirement, it was with a healthy body that would be hiking, bike riding, fishing and doing home renovations.   It was also envisioned at a much later time in life.  Now I’m learning my limitations, both physical and mental.  I have to learn to accept those limitations. Those limitations are why there may be days, weeks or months between blog posts. The limitations can be gone and then five minutes later, they are here.  They can go just as quickly.  Plans can change or be made suddenly.  The only constant is no consistency.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I first read Mandino’s Ten Scrolls or principles for changing your life was Scroll Ten.  Scroll Ten is I will seek guidance.  I’m moving this principle up to number one.  I believe that it’s wise to seek guidance when making decisions especially those about things we have no expertise.  King David was a wise man who didn’t always do the right thing.  He did however always love and trust the Lord.  Psalm 25 begins with David telling the Lord that he trusts Him.  We can always trust the One who gave us life.   Verses four and five are our example for decision making when David asks God to “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long”.  When sending a message to those He had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, God told Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. God went on to say, Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD.  (Jeremiah 29:11 – 14a)  

Any time we have a decision to make, we should first stop and ask God to show us the path He has planned for us and ask Him to guide us and teach us what we are to do. He has promised to be there and listen to us when we call upon His name and pray to him.  When we ask for His guidance first, everything else falls in line. The right people and/or information become available to us.  It’s important when you go to someone for their advice and counsel to be able to explain the situation at hand clearly and precisely. Be focused when you request help and advice.  Be sure that the counsel offering their advice and insight understands exactly what the decision you are trying to make is.   You must be prepared to accept their advice even if it’s not the advice you wanted to hear.  Instead of being disappointed, upset or even angry at the source of advice, ask questions.  Look for ways to expand your knowledge.  As them to help you to understand why they answered as they did.  It could be that by making a few changes to your original idea, your idea becomes doable. It’s important to be willing to think “outside the box”.  Being willing to look at all sides of the situation and different solutions help you to become more effective and productive.

One lesson that you may learn when going to God for His guidance is patience.  Patience is defined as an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay and to have quiet, steady perseverance. Impatience is the opposite.  It’s a lack of patience, an eager desire for relief or change; restlessness and intolerance of anything that thwarts, delays or hinders. We live in a society where patience has for the most part become a thing of the past and impatience has become the norm.  We want things when we want them and most of the time it’s possible to get them.  Our world is one full of fast food, fast cars, fast answers through fast internet access anywhere you are.  David experienced impatience and cried out to the Lord, “Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 143:7-8)

When you experience impatience waiting for God’s guidance, work toward learning patience.  It is His desire that we become patient and wait for His direction.  Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. (Colossians 3:12)  I'm not sure I could think of having compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience if I had been through all the Paul had.  Paul was struck blind by God on the road to Damascus, had his death ordered by the Jews, was shipwreck while a prisoner and spent a good bit of time in prison.  Despite all the negatives, Paul lived his life in complete devotion to the teachings he received at the feet of Christ.  He was patient and waited for God’s timing to have these negatives removed from his life.  It’s important for us to do the same.  

While waiting for God’s guidance and His timing, we should be in prayer and the study of His word.  Having a clearer understanding of the Bible will help us to recognize God’s will and plan for us.  Don’t just sit around waiting for something to happen.  Remember,  “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised”. (Hebrews 6:12)

I leave you with words of wisdom from the book of Proverbs. 
Proverbs 15:22
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Proverbs 19:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.