Maureen Pratt

Maureen Pratt

First, it was my car. Next, my refrigerator. Then, my computer. By the time I saw my cardiologist today, I fully expected to leave his office with a ream of new prescriptions and a few new cardio-preserving exercise moves. Why?

Lately, I’ve been plugging lots of holes in the proverbial dike, taking proactive steps to avoid some mighty big headaches.

The car went in for a “regular” maintenance checkup. But when it emerged, there were a couple of things that could spell big trouble down the road (no worries here; I really do trust my mechanic).

I calculated how much I would use my car over the next few months and decided it was cost-beneficial to get the work done now (requiring less labor cost and avoiding potential breakdown). I am very glad I did! The fire situation around Los Angeles picked up shortly afterward, and the peace of mind from having a solid means of transportation when I did have to be out and about was and is invaluable.

Shortly after my car’s work, water started to pool around my refrigerator. I tried the troubleshooting steps offered by the kind person in the manufacturer’s customer service department, but nothing worked.

My previous refrigerator had died altogether. I remember the nightmare of calling around to find another, while praying that my perishables would not perish during an unusually warm snap. Of course, when I did locate a new appliance, there was a premium paid for such a “need it now!” transaction.

With my current appliance clearly on its nearly last defrost cycle, I decided to buy another now. Happily, I got a much better deal in the bargain and salvaged my last frozen portion of Australian beef stew!

As I secured a new fridge, my computer began to hiccup. A virus? A glitch? I wasn’t sure. Not being super techie, I called my friendly computer maintenance service. A tuneup revealed the beginning of a problem that was easy to fix. Again, I was grateful I took action sooner rather than later.

Finally, at my cardiologist appointment, I expected my preventive streak to become a full home run, with a new “to do” list to ward off serious problems. Blessedly, however, I got one of the very rare (for me, a lupus patient) “Keep up the good work” pronouncements that resulted from taking consistent, preventive steps beforehand to keep as strong and “cardiologically” stable as possible.

Off to home I went, in a sturdy car, to a refrigerator I need not fear and a reliable computer on which I cheerfully type this column.

These past few weeks have been difficult and frustrating, but also inspiring. If we can avoid major problems with thoughtful, pre-emptive action, what else could we “heal, not hurt” in our lives?

By picking up the telephone first after an argument with a friend, we could avoid a long-term rift. By volunteering early to fill a need in our parishes or communities, we can start positive action early and, possibly, before needs balloon. By offering encouragement, compassion and care to others before they ask, we can strengthen, not fray, the very fabric of our world, large and more immediate.

The possibilities for right-time repair work are endless.

As we move into the busiest months of the year, I’m going to be mindful of other ways that I can prevent problems before they occur and be grateful for the people who provide expertise, help and encouragement along the way!