BAD HEALTH? Whether you or a loved one has bad health, doubts and worries may rush in and twirl you like carnival ride.
You may ask yourself:
- “What did I do to deserve this?”
- “Will I (or my friend) ever get better?”
- “Where’s God? How come he’s not helping?”
You may also experience anger, despair, and fear. Anger over waiting. Despair over pain. And fear of invasive tests, fear of bad news, even fear of God’s disfavor.
So have you faced bad health? Or, has a loved one of a friend had an awful illness? What emotions coursed through your veins?
My Bad Health Story
No physical form of bad health runs in my family. But emotinal problems do, namely anxiety, depression, and bipolar I disorder.
had has the latter. During my childhood, he dad walked in the shadows of depression, rarely smiling. And he often spoke in monotone. In my early teens, my mom and brother convinced him to get psychiatric help at a hospital.
I had no idea how to handle my dad’s depression and occasional manic episodes. In fact, I figured I was the problem. But I was wrong. Can you relate? My child mind thought. . .
If only I got better grades. . .
If only I kept my room clean. . .if only.
But there was nothing I could do to help, and this made me sad. Eveyone in the family found ways to deal with the pain of a loved one with bad health. For instance, my mom devoured romance novels. Potato chips and French onion dip put pounds on her frame. And my brother managed, barely. In grade school he pulled Cs, Ds, and Fs, though his IQ topped 140. Later, he got high on weed and LSD. And later still, porn became his drug of choice. They are both deceased. This too grieves me.
Me? I still tried on perfectionism. Miss goody two shoes, I attempted to do everything right and learned it didn’t work. Yet I kept trying. Only later, when I trusted in Christ, I found my reason to hope and heal.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Bad health may have an emotional cause or physical root–or both. Heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and other illness are physical. Doctors can indeed diagnose them through tests. But illnesses with a physical cause often take an emotional toll too.
Some types of bad health, like hypothyroidism, include the symptom of depressed mood, for example. Also, depending on the illness, there are physical changes such as bloating and hair loss. In addition, medications used to treat bad health may have nasty side effects. Soon the ill person may feel helpless and hopeless. Spiritually, she may cling to Jesus, or she may blame God for allowing the illness and wrecking her life.
What to Do
When a friend or family member faces bad health, how can you help? Well, they’re are helpful things to say and too. And there are cringe-worthy comments to avoid. Here are a few of each.
To say and do:
1. Say “I admire your courage.”
2. Ask, “Can I grocery shop, take you to the doctor, or clean the bathroom?”
3. Play an uplifting CD or make a delicious, healthy soup (see below).
1. “I know exactly how you feel.” You don’t.
2. Call your friend and talk a long, long time. Stick to 10 minutes unless she asks to talk longer. Add another 10 minutes tops. Use a timer.
3. Pretend nothing is wrong, like my family did.
What ideas have worked for you? Or NOT! My own personal, embarrassing piece of bad advice (that I no longer do): Telling someone how she should feel!
May I Share a Recipe?
You might think it strange for me a share a recipe, but doesn’t physical health influence our physical health and vice versa? This recipe appeared in my book The Vegetarian Child (Perigee, 1997). It’s make a great meal for someone in bad health. Or good health. It’s that delicious.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
A creamy soup with no cream? That’s right. The secret is pureed potatoes, which add extra nutrients to the soup without a smidgeon of fat.
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
3 ½ cups vegetables stock or 3½ cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ onion, chopped
½ to 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients except the salt and pepper and ½ cup vegetable stock or water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside ½ cup broccoli to use as garnish.
Puree the remaining contents of the pot, a batch at a time, in a blender or food processor. Be sure to fill the blender or food processor no more than 2/3 full. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the remaining vegetable stock or water, season with the salt and pepper, and simmer 5 minutes. Pour the soup into individual bowls and top each one with the reserved broccoli garnish. Serve warm.
Serves 6. Per serving: 91 cal; 3g prot; 0.2g fat; 21g carb; 0 chol; 368mg sod; 2.7g fiber