This may sound strange, but after a lifetime battling health problems, I now use feedback from within my body as much as the advice from doctors. But to set free these internal whispers, I had to take more accountability for my health…
I was extremely unlucky to be born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF)* but very lucky to receive the support and care from my parents, brothers, family and friends.
My Mum, a nurse who had cared for CF children at London’s Great Ormond Street hospital, saw all the ‘signs’ and pushed for my diagnosis at six months old. She was the pillar of strength who instilled in me my medical discipline and desire to leave no stone unturned in managing the condition.
Indeed, in my early teens it was my Mum who tracked down the maverick Doctor Knight who continues to play a significant part in my survival.
My Dad, a field hockey enthusiast, got me involved with all sports which exercised my lungs and kept me fitter than expected. He would always attend my hockey games, supporting pitch side or from his car when on his work lunch hour! In the winter months, he would have a small tumbler of sherry for me to swig at half-time to give me Dutch courage!
However, from University onwards, my parents let me take more ownership of my treatment. This empowered me to take personal responsibility for my health, hospital appointments and the daily medical decision making.
This did not always produce positive outcomes, and they were always there to pick up the pieces! As a parent myself, I can now appreciate that this must have been torturous at times; and I’m sure they bit their tongues when I was overdoing it, particularly when partying to within an inch of my life in my 20’s!
I thank them for giving me that autonomy and ability to think on my own two feet as I learnt many invaluable lessons over those years and began to instinctively do the right thing for my health more often than not.
As I took more ownership for my illness, I started to hear what my body was actually telling me and started to look outside of the medical world at other more holistic ways to boost my health both physically and psychologically.
By listening to my inner voice, my body tells me what needs enhancing from my energy levels and lung function through to my immune system. I have become a secondary doctor for myself and I’m always on call!
By far the most important holistic approach I undertook was to explore the power of complimentary therapies.
Over the last decade, I have had repeated private sessions of reflexology, aromatherapy, kinesiology and even crystal and hands-on healing. These have all contributed to boost my energy levels, immune system and provide a sounder, more resilient body and mind.
The key is to completely believe that these treatments will benefit me otherwise they are a waste of time and money.
These therapies allow me to visualise better health and ‘see’ a body undiminished by CF which in some cases is a form of placebo but it works and that’s vital. Even a five per cent improvement in my health would make a noticeable difference to the quality of my life.
Trust me, when you have suffered from a condition every day of your life, you’ll jump at anything that might improve your health. I often joke that I would stand on my head for an hour if I was told it would make a difference!
Hope springs eternal
The expectation that comes with any new therapy gives me renewed hope that I can reverse my declining health… and this in itself is tremendously powerful. It can move mountains in me, make me happy when I have no reason to be and put a spring in my step.
To complete the virtuous circle, any hope of improved health reinforces the credibility of my body ‘tweets’ and in-turn feeds my courage to keep fighting CF.
When I took better control of my health and flipped my mindset from expecting to die early to wanting to live longer, I went from seeing a hopeless end to seeing an endless hope.
I believe it… my body told me!
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If you want to raise funds for CF through exercise like marathons and 10K’s, go to the Fundraising section of the CF Trust website below for more information.
Look out for my next post as I countdown to my 40 year milestone…
* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 8,500 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations.
For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website