I’m not a health professional -- I’m a journalist -- but it seems to me that many people do not understand healing. When the body is injured or ill the patient must be responsible for healing because HEALING MUST COME FROM WITHIN:
I’ve had a number of serious health challenges in my 64 years and I’ve been told on more than one occasion that my affliction was permanent, that I’d never recover. Well, I not only recovered, I regained my health, and this is the formula that worked for me. All three steps are vital -- like a three-legged stool -- without all three true healing cannot occur.
1. Find a Guide - this first step is the most important -- but it’s also easy because you don’t have to do it. It’s done by a surgeon while you are asleep on an operating table. Find the best surgeon to make the repairs and be sure to follow his/her advice afterwards. If you don’t get well in spite of the expert work, you have no grounds for complaint if you don’t do your part, which includes everything else on this list.
2. Ready, Set, Go - Getting prepared – your house, your pet, your checkbook - making your financial arrangements when planning your visit to the hospital. Preparing for the big event – pre-writing your bill payment checks, who’ll sign your checks, collect your mail, water your plants, walk the dog, feed the fish.
3. Do no harm - this is an ethic of the Hippocratic Oath but I personally believe every patient should swear to uphold this principle. I once had a physical therapist who violated this rule by doing inappropriate manipulations that exacerbated my condition. And I was also at fault because I didn’t stop him. My next physical therapist NEVER hurt me -- and lo and behold, I started to get better immediately. Do no harm!
4. Diet - you are what you eat. Your body replaces hundreds of millions of cells daily. You can’t replace injured cells with healthy cells if you don’t put the proper nutrients into your body. And don’t forget water -- you need plenty of it. Colas and coffee don’t count.
5. Sleep - stage 4 restorative sleep is essential to healing. Because chronic pain can be either exacerbated by a serotonin deficiency or lead to a serotonin deficiency (serotonin is necessary for sleep) talk to your doctor about a sleep aid that will increase your serotonin so you can get the restorative sleep you need.
6. Herbs &Supplements - don’t pooh-pah this! Very few people get the nutrients they need from food, especially if they are recovering from illness or injury. Different ailments require different nutrients. Find out what you need from your doctor and buy them at a good health food store (most of the national brands are worthless). Herbs can also be effective -- like St. John’s Wort for depression. If the label does not say ‘standardized’ you’re wasting your money. Make sure your doctor knows what you’re taking to prevent inappropriate reactions with pharmaceutical drugs.
7. Don’t fear alternatives - I prefer to call them complementary; they do work when done properly. So seek out a medical doctor who has not only the skills but also the training, such as a licensed physician acupuncturist. I once used both acupuncture and hot castor oil packs on a bad shoulder and got a great deal of relief from pain and tremendous increase in mobility.
8. Physical Therapy - your recovery ally
9. Playing it Safe - Safety Tips – during recovery and for the long-haul, too.
1. Think positive - no one ever recovers while thinking ‘I’ll never be well.’ What you think about is what you’ll get so make your thoughts positive.
2. Don’t despair over set backs or plateaus - your body is just taking a rest before it reaches for the next level of recovery. Think of it as reaching another landing on a long stair case. Enjoy the breather.
3. Let go of stress and pain - we all want to recover quickly but pushing too hard can create more stress which will ultimately slow healing. Allow yourself to heal and don’t feel guilty about the time it takes.
4. Affirmations, meditation, and visualizations - get in a comfortable position, take several deep breaths, close your eyes, relax, and picture yourself as well. Be creative and allow your mind to work on the body parts that need to heal. I did a meditation every day where I literally scraped the debris and scarring off a rotator cuff repair that decided to freeze up on me. As a result, I avoided a return trip to the operating room.
5. Don’t play the blame game - if your recovery is slow don’t blame your doctor; no two people heal the same and your health professional will be your best ally if you communicate with them properly; if you play the blame game you can expect them to get defensive and the stress you create will only inhibit your recovery. You can be bitter or you can get better, but you can’t do both – and the choice is yours.
6. Keep a sense of humor - laughing releases endorphins; endorphins help control pain and make you feel better naturally -- without drugs. So rent a funny movie and have a good laugh.
7. PTSD, EP and EFT – Emotional Freedom Technque - this relatively new modality has been endorsed by the American Psychologial Association and could be described as "acupuncture for the mind without the needles." Tapping on various meridian points around the head and upper body calm the amydgala and reaps wonderful benfits.
1. Stay in touch with your higher power - prayer is a powerful healing tool and it has been proven effective in a number of scientific double-blind studies. Ask friends and family to pray for you, too. Meditation -- which is simply quieting your mind -- is also effective.
2. Follow your intuition - you know what’s best for you, so do it. I once had nightmares that a therapy would destroy my ability to write; I ignored those warnings and went right on with the same therapist with terrible results. My higher self was warning me -- but I didn’t listen.
3. Find a Hero - let someone you admire be your role model or inspiration. You probably know someone who has overcome a similar health challenge. To relieve extreme pain I would think about my son. At age ten he had second and third degree burns - the most painful of all injuries. Yet he never shed a tear or complained. He was my hero and I wanted to be just like him. When a shoulder injury sidelined me, my orthopaedic surgeon became my hero -- he had overcome the disabling injuries of a broken neck! Talk about a role model! If your hero can do it, you can too.
4. Believe you will be well - a urologist once told me that I would have to use a leg bag and intermittent catheterizations the rest of my life. I rejected that diagnosis and made a willing choice to be well -- and within a year I threw away that leg bag and catheter. When my medical illustrator mother had multiple breaks in her arm we told her that she would be drawing again soon even though the doctors said she’d never work again. In ten weeks she was back at her drawing board -- because she believed she would be well.
Your body is an amazing creation. It is pre-programmed for health and wellness. But it needs your help. When you take control of your body and what you put into it, your mind and what you think, your soul, and what you believe, you will put yourself on the road to wellness. Happy Healing!