Posts Tagged ‘standard and alternative treatments’

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.

Some Strategies For Dealing With Chronic Fatigue That I Wish I Had Known

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Those of us who live with chronic illnesses can have many difficulties to deal with because of those illnesses. But I have found,  from my own life and from coaching and talking with others with chronic illnesses, that there are five main illness-related challenges, and most of us have to contend with one or more of them. These challenges aren’t independent of each other. On the contrary, they are all connected and inter-related. They are: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, lack of money, depression, and finding meaning in our lives. In this post, I’m going to share three strategies for dealing with one of those challenges: chronic fatigue.

The suggestions I’m going to share with you are ones I wish I had known when my chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) was in an almost constant flare, instead of being in remission like it is now. I often suffered from severe fatigue, and at that time I only knew three strategies for dealing with it. They were to nap in my car during my lunch hour at work, to get as much rest as possible on the weekends to recover from the previous week and get as ready as I could for the next one, and to learn about all the standard and alternative treatments for my illness and try the ones that seemed like they might help (I often spent two hours a day doing research on the internet).

Those were pretty good strategies, but if I had that period of my life to live over again, I would add three more that I think would have helped a lot. They are:

1) Look for and think about small things I could to make my life better. For example, I could have made a list of movies I wanted to watch, including comedies to cheer me up and uplifting ones to give me hope, and then watched them (while resting in bed, if necessary).

2) Keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude has been shown to to improve people’s health and their outlook on life. In spite of having overwhelming fatigue (and many other difficult symptoms), I had a lot to be grateful for, including a roof over my head, food on the table, a bed to sleep on, and a whole lot more.

3) Give myself lots of self compassion and hugs because of how difficult my life was (instead of spending a lot of my time dwelling on how sick I was).

As I said, I wish I had known these strategies when my life was a overwhelming struggle because of chronic fatigue and my other symptoms. But I’m very glad that they’ve been very helpful for my clients and others I’ve shared them with, and I hope you will find them helpful too. And if you would like even more strategies, I invite you to get and read my How to Have a Chronic Illness – Without Letting Your Chronic Illness Have You report.

Are You Living a Double Life? If Not, Maybe You Should Be

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Let me start by clarifying what I mean-and what I don’t mean–by the phrase “living a double life.” What I mean is to live two different kinds of lives at the same time. But I don’t mean to have a secret life that’s immoral or that you don’t tell other people about because they wouldn’t approve of it.

I don’t think that everyone who has a chronic illness would be better off living a double life. There are many people, especially those whose symptoms are not severe, who have constructed lives for themselves that are satisfying and fulfilling.

But there are also many for whom each day is a difficult and painful struggle, and for whom life feels like just existing instead of living. If you are one of them, I strongly encourage you to consider living a double life if you’re not already doing so.

The first life I encourage you to live is a life of doing all that you can to lessen your symptoms and improve your health. Learn as much as you can about standard and alternative treatments for your illness and decide with your healthcare provider which ones to try. Learn what new treatments are being developed – here’s a link to a short article about an easy way to do that from a short article in an ezine I used to write:  how to get google alerts. You may also want to do an internet search for people who have had unexpected improvements, remissions, and sometimes even cures from whatever illness you have. I have read many such stories that I have found to be credible, and reading them has given many including me lots of hope.

At the same time you are doing all those things to have a healthier future, I encourage you to look for as many ways as you can to have the best life possible with all the symptoms and circumstances you currently have. If you aren’t able to get out much, make a list of movies to rent, books to read, and friends to connect with. If you are limited financially, give yourself the challenge of finding at least five new ways each week to be more frugal. Get my free report: How to Have a Chronic Illness – Without Letting Your Chronic Illness Have You to learn some effective ways to be kinder and gentler to yourself. And if you aren’t getting all the support you would like, join or start an in person or a telephone support group for people with your illness. To live this second life as well as possible, you may find it helpful to think about what suggestions and encouragement you would give a good friend.

If you use both of these strategies to live a double life, you will be maximizing the likelihood you will get better, while at the same time you will be living the most satisfying and fulfilling life you can today and everyday.