Special Christmas Offer

“An excellent, thorough resource for those experiencing tragedy using the book of Job in the Bible as a guide. Recommended” – Writers Digest

 
Cascade Awards Writing Contest 2016 Finalist Nonfiction
 
Tragedy Transformed: How Job’s Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours  
Gordon S. Grose
 
SPECIAL OFFER FOR CHRISTMAS: December 15-31, 2017
 
 3 or more copies of Tragedy Transformed @ $10 each (Regular $16.99)
 
Help promote the message of hope from God’s Word to people who need it: The bereaved, victims of disaster, people in tragic circumstances.
 
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms (CFS) II: Guest Blog

chronic_fatigue_syndrome_pictures_-_Google_SearchOn November 24, I published a blog on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). In it I called attention to Paul Grose, our son, who, along with his wife Juli, has experienced the debilitating effects of CFS (now renamed Myalgic Encephalomyalitis ME/CFS) since 1987.  Juli also lives with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). I have asked Paul to  write this guest blog. 

All ME/CFS patients have their unique stresses and variations of the major symptoms of the disease. When we first became ill, for example, we had a different kind of stress than we have now in that we could appear completely normal for a few hours, and then, like Jennifer Brea (See November 24 blog featuring her TED talk or: https://www.ted.com/talks/jen_brea_what_happens_when_you_have_a_disease_doctors_can_t_diagnose), we would crash for hours and days on end. In fact, we had both been extremely ill during our last semester at college; far more was expected of us than we could do. In each patient’s life, there are unique ramifications of the disease based on the age at which they became ill, the belief and sympathy of relatives, and the resulting social ramifications.  Some never have the chance, for example, to get married, others have spouses and families who don’t believe them, and still others try to take care of children when they are too ill. So, in our case, here are our unique challenges:

  1. Both of us have this disease. Jennifer Brea’s husband, Omar, has to care for her. But he is healthy, and while she has been ill for five years, we have been at this for over 30 years. I try to take care of Juli while sick myself,in bed much of the day.
  2. Juli is severely ill, classified as a “Level 1” (out of 4, the sickest). She is able to sit up briefly only for her meals and for a 45-minute ride in the car (the vestibular stimulation helps her sit up). Otherwise, she is bedridden. I am at level 2.5 out of 4.
  3. Juli has severe MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) as well. The searingvasculitis(inflammation of her blood vessels) Juli experiences is excruciatingly painful. Many of the patients featured in a recent movie on ME/CFS have mold sensitivity, but they do not have MCS. It is a fairly common co-condition with ME/CFS, however.

Jennifer Brea obviously is well enough to handle normal everyday chemical exposures, and Whitney Davis (a ME/CFS patient, son of Stanford Genome Institute director Dr. Ron Davis) is able to handle baby wipes used to clean his hair and to be around his parents without extra measures related to chemicals. This added condition of Juli’s not only causes many present limitations, but has resulted in years of going without running water and personal company with other people.

  1. Juli’s electromagnetic field (EMF) sensitivities create an even greater layer of pain, tedium and isolation beyond that experienced by even a severe MCS patient. Obviously, she is not able to physically handle and use electronic devices, must carefully ration her exposure to TV/computer screens at a distance, and cannot tolerate radio of any kind. Back in the early 90’s, for example, we were unable to use the electric heat in the winter without leaving the house for a 3-year period. All these factors in Juli’s disease are an enormous strain on Paul, and vice-versa.
  2. In one of Jennifer Brea’s recent interviews, she states that if she stopped any of her current pharmaceuticals, she would not be able to move within just 72 hours. Another patient told her about trying to go off B vitamins in order to save money, and she relapsed for the next few years, and her children had to take care of her. In the same way, Dr. Hulda Clark’s parasite program, the anticlotting medicines, and herbal antibacterials & vitamins are the only supplements that help Juli at all with the postexertional malaise (PEM), enabling her to take care of herself during the night. Otherwise, Paul is forced to stay up with her all night and lose even more sleep. And these are the only things enabling her to treat her severe sleep disorder and to talk.
  3. I am in bed much of the day, also with a significant sleep disorder myself. I must use my limited quota of daily energy to accomplish tedious tasks to keep our lives running. As Dr. Nancy Klimas points out in the recent movieUNREST, (produced by Jennifer Brea): When the cell has no more energy, the only recourse is to completely stop, or the illness will continue to cascade. Many people assume that a given patient’s activity level will remain stationary throughout his/her life. But many patients begin at the higher levels, such as Level 4, and become severely ill due to overexertion, thus dropping to Level 1 or 2. Also, excessive emotional and/or physical stress activates the Cell Danger Response, as Dr. Robert Naviaux says, and causes the patient to crash, sometimes permanently. The only thing that keeps the disease process at bay is good nutrition, good supplementation, keeping the stress to a minimum, and adequate sleep and rest.

Do you know anyone with ME/CFS? How would you respond if they showed symptoms? How would you encourage Paul and Juli?

[Source: Diagnostic decision tree: www.iom.edu/ME/CFS]

 

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Please watch for Gordon’s new blog next Friday

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Hope For Treatment

Jennifer_Brea_-_Google_SearchFor over 30 years, our family has struggled with our son Paul’s strange illness. His wife Juli has it worse. They lived isolated from friends, church, work, and even family. Misnamed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), this illness has become the butt of jokes: who isn’t “fatigued”?

The Face of CFS

Delivering a TED Talk on her CFS, Jennifer Brea, however, has given a face to the illness. She has also mobilized CFS patients in a world-wide agitation for attention from the medical community. Because CFS immobilizes a person to near-paralysis, patients withdraw from life, unable to publicly agitate for change. But no more. Her full-length documentary video (Unrest, sold by YouTube) will come out in DVD in December. In it, she documents her life as a result of the illness, and how she organizes others world-wide through Skype to agitate for recognition and for change.

It’s All In My Head?

Dr. Ron Davis, Stanford professor of Biochemistry and Genetics, and Director of  the Stanford Genome Technology Center has taken up the cause to find a medical treatment for CFS. The biggest challenge has been that blood testing, even by medical specialists, yields no observable anomalies. As a result, experts usually tell patients, “there is nothing wrong with you,” or “I’m referring you to psychiatry for your depression.” Our children also experienced this humiliation 30 years ago.

In the illness of Whitney, his son, Ron found reason to explore the biological basis of CFS, now renamed Myalgic Encephalomyalitis (ME/CFS). His story is available on Youtube listed in the Sources below. Knowing Whitney isn’t just fatigued, depressed, or a malingerer, yet merely exists close to death, he describes the illness as “a living death.” What we now know, he says, is that ME/CFS results from a problem in the cell: the mitochondrial DNA doesn’t produce energy as it does in normal functioning. As a result, we enter a state similar to “hibernation” in some animals. Perceiving a threat, the organism, down to the cellular level, shuts down to conserve energy.

Although the Centers For Disease Control in Altanta, GA, for years has listed criteria for a diagnosis of CFS, only recently has it scheduled a training workshop for physicians in the illness. The standard medical prescription for treatment includes “light exercise.” Now, however, they recognize that remedy only exacerbates the illness.

A World-Wide Epidemic

So, in medicine and in public awareness, hope dawns for our son, his wife, Jennifer Brea and millions world-wide who experience the debilitating effects of ME/CFS.  The Open Medical Foundation (OMF) now focuses on their End ME/CFS Project, designed to find biomarkers and effective treatments for myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). These findings should also provide insights into related diseases, such as fibromyalgia and Lyme disease. “ME/CFS is a global crisis,” they say. “We communicate with patients in over 90 countries. We proudly share translations of our news and newsletters to inform our global OMF family and share our message of hope internationally.” If you’d like to know more, or get involved, contact the Open Medical Foundation (OMF) at www.omf.ngo.

ME-CFS-Biomarker-Research_jpg_960×720_pixels[Sources: Jennifer Brea picture: www.Ted.com    Jennifer Brea video: https://www.ted.com/talks/jen_brea_what_happens_when_you_have_ a_disease_ doctors_can_t_diagnose                                                                                                                Unrest (the film) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGBXXlQO49g                                  Dr. Ron Davis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZQgJP47kA4                             Diagram: www.omf.ngo]

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Broken-heart Syndrome

broken_heart_-_Google_SearchCan a person die of a broken heart? Will the unexpected loss of a close relative or loved-one create such emotional stress that it jeopardizes the person’s well-being? Don’t people in grief recover sufficiently so that their physical health suffers no lasting effects?

The Mayo Clinic, in a note posted on their website defines Broken-heart syndrome as “a temporary heart condition that’s often brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. The condition can also be triggered by a serious physical illness or surgery. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they’re having a heart attack. In broken heart syndrome, there’s a temporary disruption of your heart’s normal pumping function in one area of the heart. The remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Broken heart syndrome may be caused by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones. The condition may also be called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy by doctors. The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in days or weeks.” (Emphasis added)

New Information

In this paragraph, we feel reassured that the condition is only “temporary,” that it is “treatable,” and that it “reverses itself” within a short time. New research from the University of Aberdeen, however, sheds light on these questions. Called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (“broken-heart syndrome”), this newly identified disease affects some 3,000 people in the UK. Bereavement can trigger the illness. During the stress of bereavement, the heart muscle can weaken to create an inability of the heart to maintain its pumping function. Long-term damage to the heart muscle results.

“Takotsubo is a devastating disease that can suddenly strike down otherwise healthy people,” says Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at British Heart Foundation. “We once thought the effects of this life-threatening disease were temporary, but now we can see they can continue to affect people for the rest of their lives.”

We would hope that doctors can provide us effective medical treatments for Takotsubo, but so far, according to the newest research, none exist.

Understanding Job’s Anguish

Perhaps we can better understand Job’s anguish ion Chapter 3. After the sudden death of his businesses, employees, health and wealth, his heart is broken beyond repair. In Chapter 3, Job seeks the peace of death to life bereft of all meaning. We can understand Job’s sentiments. Well, almost all meaning. Although each of them problematic for Job, still remaining with him through his anguish until the end: his friends, his wife, and God.

When have you lost someone close? Was it recent? Have you had your doctor examine your heart as a result of your bereavement? With your loss, what or who do you have left to be with you to the end?

[Sources: Image: pixaby.com; http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/broken-heart-attack-damage-long-lasting-injury-cardiac-arrest-aberdeen-a8057961.html https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-heart-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354617]

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What Words Do You Say To A Grieving Friend?

Southern_Baptists_to_pay_for_Texas_shooting_victim_funerals___AL_comOn this past Sunday, November 5, 2017, Patrick Devin Kelley walked into Sutherland Springs Baptist Church (TX) during worship, and, and with an AR-15 rifle, killed 26. A neighbor, hearing gunfire, returned with a rifle, wounded Kelly twice, and forced him to flee. Ten minutes later, Kelley took his own life. This event holds the dubious distinction of having been our worst church shooting in American history.

Warnings and Failures

There had been numerous warning signs of violence: the Air Force court-marshalled Kelley for beating his ex-wife and stepson. He also faced charges of cruelty to animals, was institutionalized for mental illness, and threatened members of his family. He recently collided with a car driven by a 91-year old women who pulled out in front of his motorcycle. That left him with intense headaches.

There were also numerous failures. Five years ago, Kelley escaped from a mental health facility. When El Paso, TX, officers interviewed him afterward, their information included that he was  a danger to himself and others, and that he was facing military criminal charges. Not only had he been court-marshalled for domestic abuse that same year, and given a dishonorable discharge, but the Air Force acknowledged that it did not tell federal authorities about the conviction for domestic violence.  That should have prevented his access to buying weapons. They also did not reveal  Kelley’s stay in a mental health facility and his having threatened his superiors.

What Do You Say?

We’ve seen enough detail to learn the enormity of the tragedy which has befallen our country, the families involved, including Kelley’s, but also the body of Christ. Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri, who were traveling elsewhere at the time,  lost not only 26 parishioners, but their 14-year old daughter Annabelle. “What do you tell the other grieving families?” a reporter asked him. “I’m still working on that,” pastor Pomeroy gently responded, then added, “but thank you.” Unwilling to focus only on their personal loss, the Pomeroy’s instead focused on the loss to their church family, to the body of Christ. “We lost more than Belle yesterday,” said Sherri, “And one thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely and vice versa.”

When Job’s friends learned of the enormity of his losses, they met visited, and for a week remained silent (Job 2:11-13). Anyone who attempts to offer consolation to someone in tragedy waits until they know how best to respond. That’s why Pastor Pomeroy responded as he did. Consolation consists in more than what we say. On behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas, The North American Mission Board, for example, offered to pay the funeral expenses of those who died.

How have comforters responded to you in your grief? If you were to offer comforters a piece of advice as to what helps, what would you tell them? As to what doesn’t?

[Sources: Eli Rosenberg, Mark Berman, and Wesley LoweryTexas church gunman escaped mental health facility in 2012 after threatening military superiors,” Washington Post, November 7, 2017. Susan Hogan, “Sutherland Springs pastor: ‘I don’t understand, but I know my God does’,” The Washington Post, November 2, 2017. Leada Gore (lgore@al.com), “Southern Baptists to Pay for Texas shooting victim funerals,” AL.com November 7, 2017. Also picture.]

 

 

 

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On Vacation. Watch for Gordon’s new blog next week

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Morbidity Rate of Depression

depression_pictures_-_Google_SearchIf you feel depressed, your life may shorten. According to results of a study released recently which followed the lives of 3400 Canadian adults from 1952 to 1992, people with depression experienced a shorter life span than those without it. A depressed man, age 25, for example, could expect to live another 39 years; but without depression he could live 51 years.

Perhaps surprisingly, suicides did not account for this. Few of the subjects committed suicide. Depressed people died in the same way others did–heart disease and cancer, for example.  One of the doctors in the research team pointed out that people receiving treatment for depression and received treatment for diabetes and heart disease.

Is Depression “Weakness”?

Depressed people tend to think of themselves as “weak”, but in reality, depression is a disease like any other, with effective treatments available, such as medications and talking.

Women, in particular, may feel a “sense of shame” over mental health symptoms, according to John Hamilton, Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Conn.  They may feel they need to be the rock of the family. “They might even have people around them saying, ‘Snap out of it, you have kids,'” said Hamilton. “But depression is no different from any other chronic disease,” he said. “We need to have a compassionate, nonjudgmental approach to it.”

Job’s Healing

We see in Job the effectiveness of talking. For a week, he couldn’t, but after his three wisdom colleagues rallied to his side, patiently sat with him, and themselves mourned his sad state, Job marshaled the courage to put his depressed feelings into words (Chapter 3). He first curses his life of suffering, preferring instead the peace of the grave. then he launches into five “Why?” questions. Job’s behavior reflects a healthy response to unusually devastating losses. The rest of the book allows him more opportunity to unload on his friends, and on God, preparing him to receive an appropriate response from the Almighty (Chapters 38-41). In spite of the depth of his original despair, he rallies to confront God. Through his belief in a personal God who he could address, and his colleagues support, Job avoided suicide.

If you experience depression, how well do you care for your physical health? Do you have other serious illnesses? What are you doing to manage your complex life?

[Sources: Picture: www.soothingminds.com.au                                                                    Article: https://consumer.healthday.com/mental-health-information-25/depression-news-176/more-evidence-that-depression-shortens-lives-727736.html Stephen Gilman, Sc.D., acting chief, health behavior branch, U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md.; Aaron Pinkhasov, M.D., chairman, behavioral health, NYU Winthrop Hospital, Mineola, N.Y., and associate professor, clinical psychiatry, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, N.Y.; John Hamilton, L.M.F.T., L.A.D.C., chief clinical outreach officer, Mountainside Treatment Center, Canaan, Conn.; Oct. 23, 2017, CMAJ, online]

 

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Death by Avalanche, Suicide: Hayden Kennedy

Renowned_Climber_Hayden_Kennedy_Commits_Suicide_After_Girlfriend__Fellow_Pro_Inge_Perkins__Dies_In_Avalanche_pdfAlthough suicide is twice a common as homicide, the unusual suicide of world-class rock climber Hayden Kennedy caught my eye.  On Saturday October 7, 2017, Kennedy, 27, and girlfriend Inge Perkins, 23, skied together on Imp Peak in the southern Madison Range in Montana. In a steep, confined indentation, 10,000 feet above sea level, they unknowingly set off an avalanche 150 feet wide.

Prior to his accident, Kennedy wrote an essay in which he commented on the deaths of two mountain climbing partners and friends, Kyle Dempster, who died climbing in Pakistan in 2016, and Justin Griffin, who died climbing in Nepal in 2015.

Reflections on Death

“I think about Kyle and Justin all the time,” Kennedy wrote. “Their absence from this world is felt by so many who are left in a wake of confusion, anger, and frustration. In many ways, I am still processing what has happened to my dear friends. Waves of sadness overwhelm me at times, making it hard to stand up or focus. At other times, I am able to think only of the enchanting adventures, contemplative conversations, and the simple yet enriching moments we shared as friends.”

Although their deaths weighed heavily on him, the death of Inge weighed more. She died as a result of being buried in that avalanche; he escaped death by having been buried only partially. The next day, however, Hayden Kennedy, having lost the love of his life, took his own life. As his essay makes clear, climbers live with the vivid awareness of the reality of death. Kennedy’s struggle, however, took on weightier thoughts: his loss of Inge led to feeling his life had lost all meaning.

Job and Death

Job’s reflections in Chapter 3 also focus on death. To say he wants to die would be  a gross understatement. He also has lost all, or most, of the things and people that make life meaningful: businesses, employees, and children–all of them, all at once. But Job had a small social group (his three wisdom colleagues) with whom he could share his desperation. They debated Job over his complaints against God, but they stayed, listened, and, for the most part, heard him out. It seems Hayden never shared his anguish. Inge’s love had become more precious than life itself.

Job also firmly believed in God. God had unjustly destroyed his life and purpose, but
God was someone against whom Job could battle. If a person lives only for sport and love, he or she may not find that adequate for life, when those are withdrawn. I don’t know about Hayden’s faith, so I dare not hazard a guess. When all of life fails us, at times, it is only God who can make the difference between life and death.

For what do you live? For whom? What and who gives your life meaning, purpose and direction? Is what you focus your life on strong enough to hold you if you were to lose everything else? Where is your social support? Who is your God?

[Sources: Photo: Instagram. Chris Weidner: When darkness overcomes — the devastating loss of Hayden Kennedy, a climbing luminary  http://daily.camera/machform/view.php?id=23 10/17/17  www.eveningsends.com  Patrick Redford, Renowned Climber Hayden Kennedy Commits Suicide After Girlfriend, Fellow Pro Inge Perkins, Dies In Avalanche www.deadspin.com 10/12/17]

 

 

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Aging Process: A Shot Across My Bow

growing_older_-_Google_SearchAlthough I’m in good health and active with physical and mental exercise, the past year has brought me a new awareness of slowing. For the past year, I, with my doctors, have struggled to understand certain “spells” I experienced. Standing in front of my Sunday school class in July 2016, ready to begin teaching, I felt like passing out. The sensation lasted only a few seconds. Then, in November, I sat at my computer, switching from email to Facebook and back, to wish Friends a Happy Birthday. Three times in a row, however, I blacked out, unable to remember where I was in the process. My wife drove me to the ER where the staff checked me out for signs of big problems: heart attack, brain, lungs, etc. Nothing, so they kept me overnight for observation. Again, nothing showed up, so they discharged me. But for the next month I wore a heart monitor.

Mystery

It showed nothing, either. So my primary care physician referred me for a series of medical tests: echocardiogram, MRI, MRA (arteries), sonogram of my carotid arteries, and an EEG with a neurologist to rule out a seizure disorder. I had a new overnight sleep study, which indicated I needed a new, stronger C-Pap machine.  Although any one of those tests could have shown an abnormality, to account for my spells, except for the sleep test, all results showed normal. Yet, because of these continuing spells (one morning I had 11, including one in my doctor’s office!), I couldn’t drive. My wife willingly drove me to my responsibilities, especially weekly counseling others at Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton, OR, along with keeping up her duties. She needed to keep me (and others) safe.

Answer, Finally

On June 1, 2017, I met with a cardiologist. The cardiologist diagnosed my spells as “pre-syncope.” Because of the danger of driving with my condition, I resigned myself to never driving again. The doctor had other patients who had to give up driving. He asked if I would wear a heart monitor again. Although a minor inconvenience, I agreed. Finally, to my relief, I had some of my “spells,” feeling I would faint, pass out. A few days later, he called. “Your heart is stopping up to five seconds,” he said.  “I’m scheduling you for a pacemaker next week.” So, finally, after multiple medical tests, we found the answer.

On June 28, I had an amazing device installed under the skin of the front of my left shoulder. Two separate leads go from there into the right atrium and the right ventricle. The system is monitored by “Merlin” which sits by my bedside, enabling my cardiologist  to download data on my heart function at any time, so I need see him only once a year for a check-up.

“How Do You Feel?”

“How do you feel?” people ask me. “No different,” I say. The pacemaker, as you may know, functions only when the heart stops, then, when the heart is going smoothly, it stops. That saves battery life. An average battery lasts 5-6 years, although the St. Jude Medical technician (maker of the device) told me the next morning after my post-op overnight hospital stay that, with my heart function that night, the battery could last 12 years. The cardiologist has also diagnosed me with atrial fibirullation (a-fib), where the heart chamber flutters rather than pumps. That means danger of a clot, which can lead to stroke.

I’m driving again, writing, speaking, and preaching. A happy ending?

The Opening Shot

“In your 70’s,” my 80+ year-old cousin wisely told me, “little things go wrong. In your 80’s, big things do.”  He knew. A lot of “little things” were ruled out, yet what I call ‘the opening shot of old age’ just fired across my bow. I’m back to functioning normally, teaching, preaching, and giving workshops on recovery from tragedy, sharing my book Tragedy Transformed: How Job’s Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours. I hope to continue at least several more years sharing what God has given me. But I’m wiser to the ways of nature now, having just received a shot across my bow.

What stage of the life-cycle are you in? How have you experienced signs of old age? What will you do with the knowledge that your life is declining?

[Source: Picture: SpiritualCleansing.org]

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