Posts Tagged ‘Crohn’s disease’

How I Got My Health Back After Being Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

If you have read more than a few of my previous posts, you know that I am a strong believer in the benefits and the importance of self compassion. I have seen many people experience miracles from using it, and have experienced some myself.

But in this post, I’m going to share with you the thing I did after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (in 1996) that had the biggest effect on reducing my symptoms – and it wasn’t giving myself compassion. It was deciding to do whatever it took, for as long as it took, to get my health back. In effect, I vowed to myself that I would either get my health back, or I would die trying.

To honor that promise, I read everything I could find about standard and alternative treatments. And when my doctor told me he needed me to diligently follow his orders, I fired him.

I needed a doctor who was willing to answer all my questions, listen to my concerns, and give me thoughtful feedback about my ideas about which standard and alternative treatments would work best. I needed a partner, rather then someone who just gave me orders and expected me to mindlessly follow them.

Now I’m not saying you should follow my example and decide not to always follow your doctor’s orders.

I had a hard time finding a satisfactory doctor. So I wrote a letter describing the qualities I was looking for, and also the kind of doctor I wanted to avoid, and I sent the letter, along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, to the 35 gastroenterologists within a 25 mile radius of where I lived.

Of those 35 doctors, only two responded. But the one I chose was great.

My journey to recover my health was not easy. I had to deal with many very difficult challenges, including feeling sometimes like I would be better off dead. But after three years, I got my health back.

I’ve had some moderate setbacks since then, but have overcome each one, and have now been symptom free without drugs for over five years.

In spite of my success, in one way I have been a rather slow learner: It took me years to realize I could use this same strategy of deciding to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes, to achieve other important goals in my life.

But I’m glad to say that I have learned and am making use of that valuable lesson. And if your goal is better health, a more rewarding career, or more satisfying relationships with the important people in your life, I invite and encourage you to give the strategy I’ve shared with you a try.

A Death in the Family

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

My brother Ben died last week. I miss him a lot and always will. He was a wonderful man, husband, brother, and human being. You can read more about him in the tribute on his Facebook page:

I’m writing about his death for two reasons. The first is because I am grieving and am trying to come to terms with and accept the reality that I will never see him again. And writing about it, my memories, and my brother’s (mostly) wonderful qualities, will help me heal.

The second reason I’m writing about Ben’s death is because I think it may have been preventable. And while nothing will bring him back, I want future possible deaths that can be prevented to be.

Here are a couple of my memories: Ben was five years younger than me, so he had five less years than I’ve had to learn the lessons life gives us. So it seems kind of ironic that I, as someone whose job and career is to give people ideas and suggestions to help them live better lives, would call him for help and advice. But I did, more times than I can count. And the counsel I received was always compassionate and wise.

One more thing I want to share about Ben is that he was a gifted french horn player. While I’ve heard him many times, one time that was especially memorable was last year when my girlfriend and I stopped by to visit on our way home from a trip out of state. We were treated to our own live performance, and I can truthfully say that what came out of Ben’s horn was richer and more heartfelt than anything I have heard from any other french horn player’s horn before or since.

I’m grateful for those and many more memories, but of course I wish Ben hadn’t died. I’ll probably never know for sure, but I think his death could have been prevented. I’ll describe how by sharing my own story.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1996. When the treatments my doctor gave me didn’t help, I decided to learn as much as I could about my illness and all the standard and alternative treatments people were using to treat it. I made a vow to myself that I was going to do everything I could to get well, and do so for as long as necessary.

While doing my research, I was well aware that on the internet people can say anything – and some do. So I got corroboration before trying anything. I ended up trying many standard and alternative treatments, and even devised one of my own.

In effect, I became the head of my medical team of doctors and other practitioners. And after three years, my Crohn’s went into remission. With the exception of a few relapses (the last one was four years ago), it has stayed in remission without drugs ever since.

Ben didn’t do that. He got the best medical care he could for his atrial fibrillation and his lung disease, and followed his doctors orders religiously for years. His health would get better, but then get worse than it was before, but he continued to follow orders.

He also didn’t give his heart or his lungs – or himself – the kind of compassion I have written about in many of my posts. And he died, much too soon.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying you should disregard what your doctor says. He or she has studied and learned a lot about diagnosing and treating illnesses.

But doctors are human and they make mistakes, and in my experience they often ignore potentially helpful alternative treatments.

So what I am saying is do your own research, and ask questions about the treatments you’re given and also about alternative treatments you think may be helpful.

I don’t know if the holistic approach to treating illnesses and healing the body that I have briefly described here would have prevented my brother’s death. But I have seen far too many positive results for me not to strongly encourage others who are struggling with illnesses to try it themselves.


To learn about other effective ways to heal your pain, I invite you to sign up for my free E-Course: Learn How to Raise Your Energy – and Your Spirit – in Just 21 Days.

Are You Angry at Yourself? Probably – Even if You Don’t Think so

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

You may already know that anger can have negative effects on both your emotional and physical well-being. I will describe some of those effects later in this post.

But before I do, I want to point out something most people don’t think about, which is this: when most of us think about anger and being angry, we think about someone we’re angry at, or about something that happened to us that made us angry and upset. We remember getting angry when something happened to us that wasn’t fair, like getting sick or losing our job – or both. We get angry at our government for passing bad laws or for not passing laws we know are needed.

But when we think about anger and being angry, rarely do we think about our anger at ourselves. However, most if not all of us have some–and some of us have a lot of it.

We get it from not being the way we think we should be. We get it from not having the willpower we think we should have. We may have it because we haven’t taken good care of ourselves or from not staying true to our values. We can get angry at ourselves because we got sick—even though we’re not to blame for that happening. And we can be angry at ourselves for countless other reasons.

Whatever the reasons and wherever they came from, whether we are aware of it or not, virtually all of us have some anger at ourselves. And that self-anger can have the same negative effects on our emotional and our physical well-being as anger at others does.

Those effects include weakening our immune system, high blood pressure, problems with digestion, skin problems, heart attacks, strokes, anxiety and depression, and many others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that 85 percent of all diseases appear to have an emotional element. I think the percentage is even higher.

So if most of us have some self-anger, and that anger has negative effects on our emotional and physical well-being that makes our lives worse, what can we do?

The first thing we can do is to look and see if there are things we’re angry at ourselves for, things we’ve forgotten or never acknowledged in the first place. Then when we find that anger, we can do the same thing we can do when others do things that hurt and upset us: Just as we can forgive them, we can forgive ourselves.

In one way, it’s often easier to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. That’s because it’s easier to forgive people who apologize for what they did, but other people often don’t ever apologize. But we can always apologize to ourselves, and when when we do that, and mean it, it is a lot easier for us to forgive ourselves. So I strongly recommend that you take the time and make the effort to forgive yourself.

The next thing you can do is to be gentle with yourself and have lots of understanding compassion for both the part of you that has been hurt and angry and for the part that caused the hurt and anger. Remember that the part of you that did that was doing the best it knew how and was not intentionally trying to hurt you or make you angry and upset.

Healing self-anger can make a very big difference in your life. One of my clients recently discovered that because of her anger at herself, anger that she didn’t realize she had, she had been punishing herself for years. When she forgave herself and stopped doing that, she had a big breakthrough and experienced a miraculous shift in her often difficult relationship with her husband.

Whether or not you have a breakthrough, I am certain that healing any self-anger you have, by apologizing, forgiving, and having compassion for yourself, will have a very positive effect on your physical and emotional well-being.


Tom Robinson, who has a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) himself, helps people with chronic illnesses meet their many challenges and then find and follow a path to happiness and fulfillment.

Get his free report, Has Living with a Chronic Illness Worn You Down? Learn How to Outsmart Your Illness and Have a Much Better Life.

Are you a people pleaser – or a YOU pleaser?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Recently, I gave a coaching session to a woman I’ll call Brenda. We were looking at things she could do to make her life with Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and several other difficult challenges a lot better. As we did, Brenda started feeling so much emotional pain that she started to cry. That had happened earlier in the session and in several previous sessions as well.

As I coached her, it occurred to me that she could probably work through a lot of the pain that came up in coaching sessions by blogging. I told her so, and I also told her that blogging had the added benefit that if she wrote about the challenges she was going through and the painful feelings she experienced as she did, she would very likely get supportive comments from people who read her post.

Brenda agreed that blogging would probably be helpful. She didn’t commit to actually doing it, but she did commit to considering it and deciding if was the right thing for her to do. As I listened to Brenda, I had a strong sense that blogging would be very beneficial for her

In her session the following week, I found out that Brenda had not done what she had agreed to do: she did not spend any time thinking about blogging and its potential benefit. I asked her if she still thought that blogging about her challenges and her feelings would be helpful, and she said that she did.

But I sensed that something essential was missing and I said so. I told Brenda that until we found out what the missing piece was and added it back, blogging wasn’t going to be helpful for her.

Brenda quickly identified what the missing piece was. The previous week, she meant it when she said she would consider blogging, because she saw that it could be helpful. But the next week, when she said that she still thought blogging would be helpful, she said it not because she still believed it, but to please me.

Not surprisingly, that was not the first time Brenda said something to please someone else instead saying what was true for her. She saw that she had been doing that her whole life.

I told her that the person for her to please was not me. It was the woman in the mirror. I suggested that several times a day, she ask that woman how she could please her.

She said she would, and I’m looking forward to Brenda’s next session to find out how she’s pleased herself. I know that doing so will do her a lot more good than blogging just to please me would.

How about you? What will the person in the mirror tell you? Whatever it is (assuming that it doesn’t hurt anyone else) I encourage you to do it, and then leave a comment here telling my readers and me what you did.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31st, 2012

We made it! The world didn’t end a week ago like many people told us it would. But you still have a chronic illness (or several of them), and it’s very likely 2012 had a lot suffering and struggling in it. So what I would like you to do for the new year is to take a hard look at doing whatever you need to do to much better, happier, and fulfilling life, with a lot less struggling, in spite of the fact that you’re living with a chronic illness.

I was a well-paid software engineer for over 25 years. But I didn’t find it satisfying, so I decided to change careers. For several reasons that I don’t have room to go into here, I became a life coach. And because I had learned to live well with a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) and saw that there were (and still are) many people who haven’t learned how to do that, I decided to coach them. I don’t make as much money as I did when I was an engineer, but I am very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to help people who were struggling and suffering turn their lives around in spite of their illnesses.

And if this post helps more people with chronic illnesses turn their lives around in 2013, I will be even more grateful.

If you are one of those people who will turn their lives around in 2013—and I hope you are, reading this post is a good way to start doing that. You can also read the other blog posts I’ve written over the past three years and get suggestions and ideas to help you from them. And if you are ready to take a big step to make your life a LOT better in 2013, I highly recommend that you sign up for a no-cost How to Have a Better Life than You Ever Thought Possible coaching session with me. I will give you personalized suggestions to help you with your biggest challenges, whatever they are.

Happy New Year!

Tom Robinson, who has Crohn’s disease himself, helps people with chronic illnesses feel a whole lot better, and live lives with much more joy and fulfillment

Is there a connection between having an unhappy childhood and having a chronic illness as an adult?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

With very few exceptions, everyone I’ve talked to who has a chronic illness (and I’ve talked to LOTS of people who do) has wondered why they got it. I have too. Many of them believe what I do: that one of the main factors that caused their illness, was having an unhappy and often traumatic childhood that included not getting nearly enough love from their parents or caretakers.

I believe there is a strong connection between our childhoods and our chronic illnesses for several reasons. The first is that the majority of the people with chronic illnesses I’ve coached over the past 10 years have told me that their childhoods were emotionally traumatic and that they didn’t feel very loved by one or both parents.

One recent client, whom I’ll call Lillian, is a good example. Neither of her parents was emotionally there for her when she was growing up, especially her father. And she’s had cancer – not once, but twice. She was diagnosed with lymphoma was she was seven years old. It responded to treatment, but she never fully recovered her health.

Then, 10 years ago, when she was 38, Lillian was diagnosed with leukemia. She had to undergo a bone marrow transplant. That cured the leukemia, but her body, including her immune system, were severely damaged and she hasn’t felt well or had what she considers to be a good day since. Is is just a coincidence that she didn’t get the love she needed (and still longs for) and that she has had cancer twice. I sure don’t think so.

The second reason I believe in that strong connection is because researchers have been finding more and more evidence that people who’ve had unhappy or stressful childhoods are much more likely to be diagnosed with chronic illnesses (and also chronic pain) as adults. The illnesses include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and many others.

The third reason I believe in the connection between an unhappy childhood and developing a chronic illness is my own experience. As I’ve written elsewhere, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 47. I feel strongly that having an unhappy childhood was one of two main causes (for reasons I won’t go into here, I believe that the other main cause was my many mercury-amalgam fillings).

There is one more reason I think there is a connection between having an unhappy childhood and developing a chronic illness. It comes partly from what I have learned and understood about  my clients, but more than that it comes from my own life. As a child, I developed a serious chronic illness that resembled polio, but wasn’t. I eventually recovered from it.

In a therapy session many years later, I had the profound but completely unexpected realization that I had deliberately but subconsciously acquired the illness to get  attention and love from my parents that I desperately wanted and needed, but wasn’t getting.

I wish I knew and could explain how I acquired the illness, but I don’t and can’t. But more than enough corroborating evidence came along with the realization to convince me that, beyond a reasonable doubt, it was true.

If, after reading what I’ve written, you suspect that you may have unconsciously decided to acquire a serious chronic illness, please don’t blame or criticize yourself for having done so. If you did that, it was because, like me, you had an unmet need. What you needed and didn’t get then was lots of compassion and understanding, and what you need and deserve now is lots of compassion and understanding. Please give them to yourself.

You also need lots of compassion and understanding if you had an unhappy childhood and there is a connection between it and the chronic illness you have now. Please give them to yourself – as much as you possibly can. Doing so helps bring about physical and emotional healing.

Doing Different Things to Try to Get Well

Monday, April 30th, 2012

When we have a chronic illness, we often try every thing we can think of to get better. Unfortunately, some of the things we try provide little or no improvement. For example, I went on a very strict and difficult to follow diet for almost a year. Some of my Crohn’s disease symptoms quickly and miraculously went away, only to come back a few weeks later even though I continued to adhere to the diet.

Other things we try can and sometimes do provide really good results. A client with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) whom I’ll call Dave went on a special diet for two years. On top of that, he did yoga for one and a half to two hours a day.

His efforts paid off: on a scale of 1 to 10, his health went from a 5 to an 8 and his energy went from a 5 to a 9! He felt great about what he had accomplished, and justifiably so.

However, doing yoga every day took up an awful lot of his free time. And preparing the food for his diet also took a lot of time and took a lot of work as well. So much that he became resentful and angry because of all the time he needed to spend to stay healthy and stopped doing yoga and following the special diet. Predictably, his health and energy levels went back to 5’s.

It’s easy to see why Dave would feel resentful about his situation. But at the same time, he actually had a choice about whether or not to do those things and how much time to spend doing them. To help him see that choice, I asked if it would make sense for him to establish a three weeks on, one week off schedule. We both knew that his symptoms would probably get worse during his week off, but then they would get better again when he resumed his yoga and diet regimen.

From my question, Dave realized that his regimen didn’t need to be all or nothing, and that it was completely up to him to decide how much time and effort to devote to it. That realization dramatically reduced the stress he was experiencing and the resentment and anger he was feeling.

As I write this, he is still deciding what to do. When he makes his decision, I know it will be the right one for him.

One final comment: Dave is taking responsibility for his health, which is what I strongly encourage everyone to do. But I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting or recommending that change the amount of medications you’re taking or do anything that is against your doctor’s orders. You should discuss all changes like that with your doctor first.

Do You Get Upset at Yourself for Procrastinating?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I sent this tip to my list recently and received many thoughtful comments in response. So decided to post it for my blog readers, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers to see and comment on.


Many people, myself included, sometimes procrastinate instead of doing the things we need to. That can cause problems for us – especially if, because of our chronic illness, we aren’t able to do as much as other people are (which is often the case). So when we find ourselves putting off doing what needs to be done and doing something else instead, we often get frustrated, upset, annoyed, and very discouraged with ourselves.

It’s completely understandable that we would feel that way. However, it doesn’t make our lives any better. But we can make them better by compassionately asking the part of ourselves that’s procrastinating why it is.

Maybe it’s doing so because we’re telling it what to do in a critical and denigrating way; maybe it’s doing so because we’re not giving it and our body the rest they need; or maybe it’s doing so because we haven’t given it the appreciation it deserves for all that it’s done for us in spite of our health challenges.

Regardless of the reason that part of us has been dragging its feet and not doing what we need it to, once we know why we can give it whatever it needs so it gives us what we need.

Best wishes using this and my other tips to have your best life possible.

I am a Crohn’s disease survivor. I  help people struggling with chronic illnesses feel a lot better and enjoy life a lot more.

I have a free report I think you will find very helpful:

Has Your Chronic Illness Got You Down? Learn What to Do to Feel a Lot Better and Enjoy Life a Lot More

P.S. It’s Not What You Think

Look for the good things in your life, but do this first

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

As I’ve written in several other blog posts, I follow and participate in several online support groups for people with chronic illnesses. In a group for people with Crohn’s disease, a woman – I’ll call her Kathy – recently wrote to say how upset and stressed she was because the drug her doctor had prescribed two weeks earlier hadn’t helped her symptoms – symptoms that included going to the bathroom up to 20 times a day.

A man I’ll call Gary responded. He shared with the group what had worked for him, and what hadn’t, when he had been in a similar situation. He wrote that he reminded himself that feeling down and sorry for himself always makes him feel a lot worse. So instead of doing that, he thought about all the things he loves about life, including his friends and family, and all the things that are important to him. Then he told himself that he had the inner strength to face and handle his pain and symptoms one day—and sometimes one hour—at a time, and he resolved not to let them beat him.

I think Gary gave Kathy very good advice. But I think it would have been even better if he had told her to first give herself lots of compassion and understanding. In the same way a parent – especially a mother – comforts her child when he or she is sick or in pain, Kathy can comfort herself. When I do that for myself first, I am much more able to follow Gary’s good advice and think about all the things I love about life. I have no doubt that Kathy will have the same result: if she first gives herself lots of compassion, she will find it much easier to find her inner strength and focus on the good things in her life.

My next Coaching/Support Group for People with Chronic Illnesses will start on Wednesday, June 30th. For more information, go to Coaching/Support Group Information.

Is Having Hope Helpful?

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

About every other week I send a tip for how to have a better life when you have a chronic illness to the people in my list. In my last tip, I told my readers to imagine that their illness and symptoms were never going to get better – that they would be the same tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year as they are today. I then asked them what they would do, given that they weren’t going to get any better, to get the most they could out of life.

The reason I had my readers imagine that they were never going to get better is because – and I learned this both from my own life and from my clients – many people with chronic illnesses put off doing things they would like to do. They do that because they keep hoping they will get better, making doing those things will be a lot easier. So my tip was basically for people to stop hoping and start doing, and many people wrote to tell me they found it very helpful.

That tip not withstanding, I actually think that it’s a good thing for us to have hope. I think it’s good for us to read about people who have had miraculous recoveries from chronic illnesses (and there are many credible stories describing that). I think following the latest research about chronic illness treatments, whether stem cell technology, a new biologic, or a completely new breakthrough, can give us hope for a better future and help us get through bad flares and other difficult times.

I did both: when my symptoms were awful I read about people who had recovered from Crohn’s disease, and I followed the latest treatments for it. And both gave me badly needed hope when I was struggling to get through each day. So there’s no question in my mind that having hope can be very helpful.  But what I’ve also learned, which I pass on to my clients and will pass on to you, is that we will have better lives if we don’t let hope that our illness will get better in the future keep us from doing things that, even though they may be hard to do, will bring us enjoyment today.