Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When It Hurts To Write

Writing a novel, article, blog post, devotional or even penning a journal entry isn’t always easy under the best of circumstances. But when a chronic illness is present, writing an be an excruciating activity.

Chronic illnesses like Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, MS (Multiple Sclerosis), RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), and many others, can sap an individual’s physical strength and also affect one’s mental and spiritual wellbeing. So how do authors cope? Do they push through these times when their debilitating conditions flare or take to their beds – which might be what their bodies are screaming for them to do?!

For myself, with Fibromyalgia and Small Fiber Neuropathy, I write in the mornings. I get up early and get right to work. About mid-morning, I take a break, eat breakfast, shower, dress, spend some time with the Lord, and then I try to get back into my project. In the afternoons, I try to accomplish some marketing things and answer email. However, by two o’clock, I’m shot for the rest of the day, except for minor things like unloading the dishwasher or running the vacuum around. I will admit that there are days when I can’t even accomplish that much. It gets depressing sometimes.

I asked some friends with chronic illnesses to tell me how they manage.

Wounded SpiritsApril Gardner states: I have RA. Doing good now, but a couple of years ago, I could barely care for myself. Still, I wrote. How? I look back and can only attribute it to God--and the sheer love writing. Poking away at the keyboard while my joints swelled and my tendons curled, I learned a lot about what I'm capable of. Pain is nothing in the face of almighty God and a little determination. RA will always be with me, but bless His name, so will God.

Thanks for the opportunity to share what He's done for me!

~April W Gardner
Sr. Editor, Clash of the Titles

book cover: hearts in flightPatty Hall states this: I live with chronic back pain from an attack I sustained when I was a nurse over 25 years ago. There are many times that I have to write lying flat on my back---I do this longhanded--sometimes with a regular pen, sometimes with a digital pen that can transcribe my writing into the Word program of my computer. I've written three books like this, the first to be released by Love Inspired Historical this summer.

Patty Smith Hall

Finally, Dr. Carrie Pagels states: First of all, thank you for writing about this Andrea, and again, I love reading your books and especially enjoy your voice, which is beautiful. As I write this, I am listening to CBN to Creflo Dollar and he is quoting scripture from Isiah. One day, God will free all of us from all pain and sickness. God makes healing available to us whether it is permanently in heaven or if for a short time on a particular day. In my faith walk, I have found that when God calls me to do something, He makes a way for me to do it.

While working as a psychologist, my rheumatoid (and other forms of) arthritis worsened and I was given every form of biologic treatment available (save one) to treat my severe symptoms. The last one, Rituxan, put me in the bed for twelve weeks last year with reactions to the biologic and with illnesses from my weakened immune system (Rituxan is a powerful immunosuppressant). But God enabled me to write during that time. Sometimes in the middle of the night for one hour. Sometimes for an hour and half in the day. An hour here and hour there to do writing related things when I could do nothing else, not shop, cook, nor do activities with my son. That was extreme. I no longer work as a psychologist and stopped with biologic treatment. It makes the pain, stiffness, and difficulties I still have seem minuscule by comparison.

So my bottom line is: Stay right with God, do what you need to do to get in line with His will for you, if He intends for you to write He will enable you to do so for however and whatever He needs you to do. Managing stress is important, but much stress comes from not doing His will to begin with!

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D.
Voices columnist, My Book Therapy e-zine

The God of All Comfort: Devotions of Comfort, Strength, and Hope for Those Who Chronically SufferIn her book The God of all Comfort, Judy Gann writes, “There are times when we loathe our portraits-in-progress. The dark tones of illness seem like blemishes on the canvas. We earn for the day when our portraits will be completed. Yet…God’s portraits will take our lifetimes to finish. Meanwhile we can trust in his promise to complete the spiritual masterpieces he is creating of our lives.”

Judy goes on to cite Philippians 1:6. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (KJV)
*     *     *
As with anything in life, particularly with chronic illnesses, God’s promises are the only ones worth clinging to. No doctor can offer what The Great Physician can -- healing from the inside out. He has the miraculous ability to write His will upon our hearts, which is enough to sustain us in even the worst of times.


April W Gardner said...

Thanks again for having me and these other lovely ladies, today. What beautiful testimonies to God's strength!

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. said...

Thanks Andrea!There are so many of us who battle this daily but we have a mighty warrior with us!

Laura Frantz said...

Bless you Andrea, April, Carrie and others who not only write but write despite pain and other issues. The testimonies are so moving and inspiring. No doubt God is pleased with your steadfastness with the gifts He's given each of you. I know I'm very touched and encouraged to press on given my own limitations. Thanks so much!

Laura Frantz said...

Oh, and I just wanted to add that Judy's book - The God of All Comfort - is one that I've given and can't say enough of what a blessing it's been! Judy herself is a wonderful, godly lady with a wonderful ministry. She was my traveling companion a few months ago and it was a JOY to spend time with her.

Janet said...

Andrea, I so enjoy your writing! I was directed to this post by acfw yahoo group. I am so sorry to hear about your chronic pain issues. I, too, have fibromyalgia and also degenerative scoliosis. Living with chronic pain encompasses many facets of our lives. Thank the Lord I have a very understanding and loving husband. There are times I have to remind him that I am having a flareup. We have a 14 year old daughter so I try my best to be there for her when she has activities at school or with friends. But sometimes, I just can't go or do anything but take pain meds and go to bed. With God's help we can get from one day to the next!
Blessings to you and all of us who suffer these chronic conditions.

Jillian Kent said...

Great post post everyone.
I've got similar issues. Still not sure exactly what it is, my doc can't pin it down but she did find a very low vitamin D level and after about 3 months of 50,000 or so units weekly I do feel better and my body aches and pains don't hurt as much. It's amazing how these bodies of ours can turn on us and I just keep praying through the tough times.

April W Gardner said...

One day, the pain will be gone and we will all rejoice together with Him!

Judy Gann said...

I tried to post a comment earlier, but it never showed up. I apologize if this is a dup.

Andrea, thank you for your timely post and mention of my book. I've had a lung infection for five months. Your words and those of the other authors bring such needed refreshmenet to me. Isn't great that we're not alone?

Laura, you are a dear, sweet friend and traveling buddy. When I'm feeling better, let's see if we can't get together.

Thank you!

Patty Smith Hall said...

Andrea, thanks for having me along with all these other wonderful writers. I wanted to add this--when I was first injured, I used to ask God why? I mean, I was doing what I truly believed was His will for my life so why would He allow me to be severely injured?

Years later, I was in a Bible study about the Apostle Paul and WHAM! He was a guy really giving his all for God, yet he had a 'thorn of the flesh' which he asked God to take away from him three times. But He didn't and Paul realized that God's grace is enough.

Though I still struggle at times(to be honest, I usually don't open up about it,) I've come to realize that God's grace is more than enough for me to do the work He has planned for me.

And yes, I too look forward to that day when I can DANCE on the streets of heaven without fear of pain.

Deborah M said...

OK I just lost all of my first post somehow. But I'm going to try again.

I have fibromyalgia. I have to write in the evening. I can't do much of anything in the mornings. I also use Naturally Dragon Speaking, but it is not goof for manuscript writing because of the abundant punctuation.

I can only write an hour or two before I flare up. I have to set my laptop literally on my lap so my shoulders aren't scrunched up.

I want to thank all the ladies who posted you have given me great encouragement.It shows that for those who love writing we are going to find a way to get it done.

I've just signed a contract with Lamp Post Publishing for my first cozy mystery, "Death in Dahlonega" to come out this fall. I've been working on it for several years. Slowly but surely.

Once again thank you for all the encouraging words.

Deborah M.

Liz Tolsma said...

I also have fibromyalgia and like Andrea, I have to work in the mornings. I've found that sitting in my bed, propped up on pillows, with my laptop in my lap (isn't that brillians ;) is best for me. But it's taken me a while to learn that is what works. In the past seven months, while flared up almost the entire time, I've written a novella and an 82K women's fiction novel. God's grace, all the way. Some days it's very difficult, but I get it done. Thanks so much for this post, Andrea.

Liz Tolsma