Below is an article I recently wrote for the website, VitalityLink.com. Some topics may sound familiar to readers but they are worth repeating.
As a life coach for people with chronic illness, and a sufferer of CFS/ME and fibromyalgia for decades, I am an advocate for alternative therapy. I benefit from a variety of practices over the years. I have worked with wonderful practitioners and lunatics. Some treatments helped, others wasted my money. Researching what treatments may help your particular symptoms and finding practitioners who are knowledgeable of your illness are important when managing your health. One resource, VitalityLink.com, can save you the frustrations I experienced when beginning my journey into alternative health.
When diagnosed with chronic illness, realization that life will never be the same is much like mourning the loss of a loved one. Most sufferers experience the stages of grief as described by Kubler-Ross:
Relief – I am not crazy and there really is something physically wrong with me.
Denial – I’ll just take some pills, try alternative medicine, and then I’ll be back to normal.
Anger – Why me?
Depression – Frustration and hopelessness that life will never be the same.
Acceptance – Ok, my life has changed but I can make new dreams, live joyfully and with purpose.
As a life coach for sufferers of chronic illness and pain, my goal with each client is to help work through the mourning process and develop plans of action where dreams become reality.
I support my clients’ exploration into integrative medicine. Integrative medicine involves western as well as alternative treatment. I do not recommend using alternative therapy out of desperation or in lieu of western medicine. I also urge all who suffer from ongoing illness and pain to take personal responsibility for better health. The following process encourages successful health management:
- Research various treatments and discover what therapy may best help symptoms. What kinds of therapy are you comfortable trying? There are so many alternative therapies, it may seem overwhelming. VitalityLink is one resource that can help guide you through the myriad of treatments and practitioners.
- Find a physician you trust. With chronic illness, a positive relationship with your doctor is important as it will be a long term partnership. I consider a good doctor one who listens to you, explains the reasons for tests, and is hesitant to make a diagnosis until they receive test results. It does not matter if you find a general practitioner or specialist. For example, when I was finally diagnosed years ago, my GP referred me to a rheumatologist. When first meeting me, Dr. S refused to diagnose me for several months as he first needed to rule out other possibilities such as Lyme disease, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. After diagnosis, he admitted he could not cure me and supported my exploration into alternative treatments. Dr. S is still my hero. Most alternative practitioners do not offer the necessary tests for proper diagnosis. Even if a non-traditional health professional can offer some diagnostic tests, insurance probably won’t cover them.
- Sometimes taking prescription medicine is necessary. For example, no alternative treatments can cure hypothyroidism. I stopped taking synthroid years ago when told by a herbalist that it was unnecessary with his prescribed herbs. He was wrong and is no longer in practice.
- Find out what treatments are right for your condition. VitalityLink facilitates this process by filtering your symptoms or illness.
- Learn practitioner backgrounds. Is licensing required in your state for the treatment you seek? Are they experienced in working with patients with your illness? I recommend getting references when possible. VitalityLink reviews and testimonials are helpful sources.
- Not all treatments work the same for everyone and improvement times may vary. Talk to practitioners about how long it may take until you notice improvement. Also, is treatment expected to provide short-term or long-term improvement to your health?
- If you are not comfortable with one practitioner, find another one. Like a physician, it is important that you trust all members of your health care team.
- There is no such thing as a miracle cure. Be wary of anyone who promises that their treatment will cure you. Do research online before spending a lot of money on the next great medical miracle.
- A variety of wellness options are usually necessary to improve health, including: dietary changes, vitamins and supplements, stretches and exercise, prescription medication, and alternative treatments. Again, talk and listen to your health care team.
- Lifestyle changes are often necessary when diagnosed with a chronic illness. A life coach who understands chronic illness will support you during the emotional roller coaster of chronic illness, listen to frustrations, and work with you to create action plans that make your new life fulfilling.
- Many alternative health care treatments are gaining widespread acceptance. many hospitals use acupuncture now for blocking pain, insurance covers some massage therapies, and meditation and relaxation techniques are part of many psychology practices. By considering the above suggestions, integrative health care can make you feel better.
Never give up! Life changes happen and can actually be even better after diagnosis.
I can help you to live a full and joyful life despite chronic illness.
Contact me for a free, no commitment exploration session at firstname.lastname@example.org