Posts Tagged ‘miracles’

What You Do Know Can Hurt You

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Before I tell you why what you know can hurt you, I want to explain why I chose the title that I did for this post. It’s a variation of the proverb “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” which has been around for over 400 years. Many people have changed the proverb to “What you don’t know can hurt you” as a headline for articles about many dangerous or harmful substances, such as second hand smoke and monosodium glutamate (MSG). I’m using it because I want to talk about things we “know” that prevent us from seeing or seeking out solutions to our problems or improvements in our lives.

I recently coached a woman with fibromyalgia and several other chronic illnesses and conditions. Nancy, as I’ll call her, went through a divorce, lost her home to foreclosure, and now lives with some relatives who are hostile to her. They either criticize or fight with her much of the time. And because the apartment is small, she has to share a small bedroom with one of them..

Nancy “knows” that no improvement is possible in her living situation. She “knows” it because she can’t work and her disability income is much too small for her to be able to afford an apartment or even a room.

Clearly Nancy’s living situation is very difficult. I have lots of compassion for her. However, it’s very possible that there is a solution to her problems that she will never see or find out about because she is convinced that none exist. I would like to see her acknowledge that she thinks that no improvement in her situation is possible, and then tell herself, “I wonder if there is a solution that I’m not aware of.” I don’t know if she would find one if she did that, but I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that miracles do happen, and they happen much more often to people who look for them and who are open to them.

My next Coaching/Support Group for People with Chronic Illnesses will start this coming Thursday, June 3rd. For more information, go to Coaching/Support Group information.

A Woman Who Inspires Me and Who I’m Sure Will Inspire You

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Today I want to write about an amazing woman I met recently… Well, I didn’t actually meet her in person.  I met her by phone.

Beverly had sent me an email because she wanted to have a coaching session. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when she was halfway through her graduate program 18 years ago. Through her own effort and determination, and also because of what she calls many miracles, she was able to complete her Ph.D. in psychology, and after she did she worked serving others for several years. But then she underwent deep brain stimulation surgery to treat her Parkinson’s, and it left her unable to work.

Four years later, she experienced seizures, 107 degree fever, and respiratory and renal failure, and nearly lost her life. Over the next 14 months she underwent 11 surgeries. She survived them all, although she is no longer able to drive and she lost much of her voice.

I have worked with and helped people with dozens of different chronic illness, including people who were dealing with very difficult and painful experiences and losses, so I was confident that I could help Beverly.

I was wrong – but not because Beverly’s situation was too difficult or overwhelming.  Beverly didn’t need my help. When I spoke with her, I discovered she was a genuinely optimistic and happy person. As you know if you’ve read my other posts, I teach people to give themselves lots of compassion. In her own words, she said she had mastered that lesson a long time ago, and it was clear to me that she had.

>Beverly wanted to share her joy and her story of how she had found it with the world. What she needed was someone who could show her how to do that. I gave her some ideas, for which she was very grateful. And I plan to stay in touch and watch her reach and touch many, many people.

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.

Are You Holding Out?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Here’s a question for you: Do you want to get well? Of course you do. All of us living with chronic illnesses want to get well.

Now here’s another question: Are you holding out for getting well? Here’s a similar question: If you found a penny on the sidewalk, would you gratefully pick it up? Or would you keep walking until you found a $1 or maybe a $5 bill on the ground?

What I’m getting at is that none of us with chronic illnesses knows if or when we will be cured. Maybe a miraculous new treatment will be found next year, but maybe one won’t be found, or at least not in our lifetime. Maybe we will discover the combination of standard and alternative treatments that puts our disease into permanent remission – and maybe we won’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not criticizing your desire to get well. I completely support and encourage you to do everything you can to regain your full health.

But from coaching many people and from my own struggle with a chronic illness, I know that people often overlook small steps they can take and things they can do to make their lives better right away. They can be simple things like getting some new houseplants or playing your child’s favorite board game with him or her. Or you can reach out to people, maybe some you haven’t talked to in a while.

I encourage you to choose whatever works best for you. Just make sure you keep taking steps to make your life better. And for more ideas of things you can do, you can sign up for my free report: Having a Chronic Illness is the Pits – Here’s How to Live Well Anyway. When you do, you will also get my bi-weekly “Tips For How to Have a Better Life When You Have a Chronic Illness” (from which you can unsubscribe at any time).

I don’t believe in the word “incurable”

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I don’t believe in the word incurable. I’ve even blacked it out of my dictionary. I want those of us with chronic illnesses to stop using it – and I especially want doctors to stop using it.

A few years ago, I read an article in an ezine about chronic illnesses in which a woman with lupus told how she asked her doctor if her condition would ever get better. She wrote that his reply, given with a sad look, was, “No I’m sorry, it won’t.” I got upset when I read that. I wanted to chastise both of them: the doctor for saying that, and the woman for believing him.

What doctors actually mean when they say an illness is incurable is that they haven’t found a cure for it – yet. But medical science is continually making advances which result in new, better, and more effective treatments for many diseases (I’m a beneficiary of medical science’s advances because infliximab, a new drug that was approved in the late 1990s, gave me my life back).

A doctor who says that a disease is incurable or that the patient’s symptoms will never get better is completely ignoring the very real possibility of a medical breakthrough. Also, although most doctors are reluctant to admit it, many of them have seen or know of one or more cases where patient’s symptoms got better or completely disappeared for reasons they couldn’t explain.

So like I said, I don’t believe in the word incurable. Even when my illness was at its worst, and I was so weak that I passed out from the exertion of taking a shower, I didn’t give up–although there were definitely times when I felt like doing so. Instead I did lots of research, and vowed that I would keep investigating and trying different standard and alternative treatments until I regained my health, no matter how long it took.

I’ll close by saying there are always ways you can improve your health and your life when you have a chronic illness. I wish you well on your journey to live your best possible life.