PART 1: An Explorer in Uncharted Territory

So you’ve received a diagnosis attached to the word “incurable”, or maybe just “really darn difficult to treat”; or maybe a treatment is offered but it’s a tough pill to swallow because it conflicts with your ethics, it has potential major side effects or life altering consequences, or it’s just seems plain crazy.

One of the most difficult challenges is developing a chronic health condition that seemingly has no cure in the modern world. You eventually come to face to face with the limitations of what doctors and healers can do for you, or so it seems. It can be a shocking revelation, especially for those of us who have been raised in societies that put so much faith into medical systems. In my own struggle I found myself thinking at many points, “My god, is this the 16th century? How can they not know what’s going on?” And then it dawned on me – this is universal, it’s in every generation, and humanity is always dealing with the mortal coil. Welcome to Critical Care 101.

Settling in for the long haul (March 2015)

Settling in for the long haul (March 2015)

Key pieces of information and guidance can come from the most unlikely sources. In the beginning you may try doing things the way you’ve always done them, and as things get worse you begin to consider stepping outside of your limitations. It goes from “I need to do this the familiar way,” to, “I am committed to finding answers no matter where I have to look.” A valuable life skill! For some people this transition is difficult, but in the end is always motivated by the reality of suffering or lack of positive results. The saying necessity is the mother of all invention could not be more relevant! So, if you find yourself hitting a wall about how to deal with a health challenge, I’d like to offer four practical tips about what to do next:

1) Get as much information as possible. Learn the basics of your condition, from your doctors and practitioners, from your own intuition, from literature, from everywhere you can. Often when we first receive a diagnosis we get a bit blindsided by our lack of knowing, especially when treatment advice is already being suggested by a professional. If you can, take pause. You have a right to know more before you make any decisions. You also have every right to disagree with an approach. It’s your body! Accept their suggestion, but feel free to wait until you know more if you can. When you apply for a job, you make sure you know the terms of the industry you’re applying for, or you get trained in knowing them. You don’t get thrown into a job without this knowledge or guidance! Getting sick is no different. The sooner you are able to learn the insider lingo, the sooner you can begin piecing together the trail of clues that can lead you to understanding. Knowledge is power! There are innovative solutions out there that won’t be apparent at the beginning. Have faith! When doctors gave me a life or death ultimatum, I had to delve deep into my intuition and compassionately refuse their recommendations. I didn’t have the answers, but I knew deep down that there had to be another way. This was how my search began.

healthnet2) Network with others who are facing similar circumstances. When I was at my worst, I had 30 minutes of useful energy per day, and going right to experienced knowledge sharers spared me a lot of aggravation. These days we have a global network of information sharing. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? Consider it a valuable resource that you can use, or that someone else can help you use if you’re not able. There are people who have been where you’ve been, and who have been dealing with it for longer. You may begin to see that the culture of medicine is different everywhere. People will see your condition, its causes and treatments, very differently depending on who you ask. There are many world views to investigate! Networking moves us beyond our limits and into possibilities. It also helps us feel less alone. Some great resources are: internet forums, academic journals, blogs, peer support groups (in person or online), online health practitioners, meetup groups, social media groups (like Facebook), e-mail lists, and book review websites. The only real limit to research potential is your own creativity! Leave no stone unturned.

3) Allow yourself to feel. A diagnosis can mean big life changes. The entire process can be so overwhelming that we forget to check in with ourselves. When I first found myself descending into critical health, I was still trying to be the “perfect patient”. I was feeling angry, confused, sad and lost, but I kept it hidden so that others wouldn’t worry. It was also a form of self-protection. I kept trying to resume a normal life and a normal appearance even though that was becoming gradually impossible. The truth is, you’re going to face many bumps in the road. There may be treatment failures. You may try one thing after another and not get resolution. You may have times when you feel defeated, in despair, and hopeless. I’m here to tell you that this is all normal!

Make sure you take pause to really acknowledge what’s going on inside you. It’s a powerful time, one might even say a rite of passage. It’s like being initiated into a whole new life that you weren’t prepared for, and that’s bound to cause some shaking of your foundation. Let it out, and be real. Take time out, as much as you need. You deserve recognition. It takes courage to navigate it all, especially when it involves facing feelings and experiences that most of the world is busy avoiding. You don’t need to have all the answers right now. Like peeling back an onion, you will likely go through the layers bit by bit over time. Chances are, you didn’t develop this condition overnight, so improvements are going to be an ongoing process. Breathe. I know it’s not easy, but the silver lining is that you’re going to learn a whole lot about yourself that you never knew!

tcm_herbs4) Try new kinds of practitioners. If you’ve only used modern medicine, try alternative practitioners, or vice versa. We all have our comfort zone that we know and trust, but when it comes to being a frontier explorer of human health, you will usually have to go beyond those familiar boundaries. Let go of your disease’s name and be prepared to look at your imbalance through different ways of thinking and feeling. I have learned such amazing and valuable things from all kinds of practitioners, and I can honestly say that putting the pieces of different systems together has made me realize things that nobody has ever written about. It is an unexpected reward to be gifted with secret knowledge that has been hard earned from a strong desire to heal, and the incredible thing is that every person who undertakes this healing journey is going to come into possession of such secret treasures. Every person you come into contact with on your search is going to have a gem of wisdom to offer you.

You may sample different practitioners. I have found that personal chemistry with a practitioner is just as important as the kind of medicine they practice. There are skilled and unskilled practitioners in every field. Keep searching, and be prepared to receive from unlikely sources! A lot of my most powerful healing experiences have been from people who never went to school or got certified in anything. Healing is a form of energy that moves through the universe, and is not limited to any shape of form. As you move beyond your limits, there will be insight awaiting you everywhere.  Practitioners are helpful because, when you’re in a position where you have to become your own healer and navigate a degree of uncertainty, it’s crucial to have a team you can consult with who are maintaining a case history and have made it their life focus to do this kind of work with you.

Once you’ve figured out your first steps and what you’d like to try, how do you get best results? Stay tuned!… I’ll be talking about just that in “Part 2: A World Of Choices”