In August 2022, I wrote a blog about how I had been unwell and on a mission to heal myself by treating life as an experiment. I was shocked and humbled by the private messages I received as a result of this blog and amazed at how many people it resonated with. I have thought long and hard about sharing such private information as I will here, but have come to the conclusion that when I was in chronic pain and fear, I would have loved to have seen someone showing me light at the end of the tunnel so if I can do that for one person, then it will be worth it.
Dealing with any long term or chronic illness is scary, isolating and chips away at your identity. I would love you to know that there are ways of taking back some control and feeling like 'you' again.
As I stated in my previous blog, at that point, I had been struggling with an illness for a year and the potential medical diagnosis was 'quiescent Crohns'. I went on a journey of treating everything in my life as an experiment in order to work on healing myself and making long term positive changes to my health.
At the end of November 2022, I went for further follow up medical tests including bloods, scans, ultrasound and eventually a colonoscopy. Whilst I knew I was feeling an awful lot better than I had been, I was still suffering with some fear based thinking which was fuelled by a junior doctor during an appointment. I had scans of all my major organs and bloods and was called into him for my results which he presented like this:
Doc - "Well your bloods are perfect and your organs are healthier than mine so I think I would like you to have a colonoscopy"
Me - "Ok but why, if all those results are so good"
Doc - "Well it could be cancer"
Me - *speechless*
For weeks, I felt the fear rise of such a powerful statement and did everything I could to stick to my tried and tested positive experiments (or protocol as I call it) and I tried to focus upon the fact that my results so far had all been so positive, however when a medical professional makes a statement like that, it is hard to completely eradicate it from your mind and I felt the fear rise in me.
Furthermore, I was terrified of having a colonoscopy, I mean who wants that done right?! So as the date for the procedure got closer it became harder for me to hold onto my rational brain.
I turned to practices I would use with any anxious client, I carried out EFT and Havening procedures throughout the day, did a lot of breathing and meditation exercises and voiced my fears with my husband. It all helped but I was in no way my usual calm focussed self!
Having had the colonoscopy I was firstly relieved at how kind and caring the medical staff were, secondly I was delighted when I was immediately told that there was no cancer nor Crohns. In fact, following all my tests, I have been told that I am exceptionally healthy.
The conclusion to my symptoms was that having caught campylobacter on a trip to India in 2019, I was given the wrong antibiotics to treat it. This then damaged the gut and caused long term issues, the fact that I had been exploring ways to heal myself had resulted in healing the damage I had suffered.
This has been a really long, difficult and often isolating journey. When you are struggling with any chronic (and especially unexplained) illness, it can be a scary place to be. Whilst everyone who experiences this will have an individual journey, I do feel I have learned some valuable lessons which can be applied to help alleviate those negative experiences:
Take back control in any way you can - illness can make you feel out of control so take control of micro things in your life, for me this came down to things like sleep, cold showers and breathing exercises.
Treat life as an experiment - no matter what the illness, there will be things you do which make it worse and things you could do to make some improvements, so try out different things and see it all as an experiment. For ideas, look at my previous blogs. This also helps you to feel more in control.
All healing is self healing - whether we heal because of a medicine, a herb, an operation or something else, ultimately for us to heal we have to be open to healing and allow our body to do what it is naturally capable of, accepting this is a powerful mindset shift.
Deal with the emotional stuff - since 2019, I have suffered 5 key bereavements in my life leaving me with a lot of grief and trauma. I have been grateful for the people who have helped me process this and allow that to leave my body (I used therapy, EFT, Havening, acupuncture and breathwork). Our emotions drive our behaviour and vice versa, so if we have stored trauma then it can often manifest as physical dis-ease.
Take care of the basics - take care of the most fundamental aspects of yourself, your sleep, nutrition, movement etc. For more info, check out this blog.
You are not alone - as isolating as it can feel, a recent study found that around a third of adults in England experience chronic pain and / or illness. Whilst this is a shocking number of people who are managing this on a day to day basis, it is also reassuring to know that others do know what it feels like.
Be careful what you absorb - whilst it is important to speak to people and educate yourself, remember that all information you come across will be generic and whilst other people may have x, y and z occur with your condition, it does not have to mean that you will. You and your body are unique and the person who knows your body the best is you. Listen to it, if you feel something is wrong, push to get answers, if you feel you are being misdiagnosed, seek other avenues.
Find the gratitude - this may feel nigh on impossible at times but there are so many blessings and opportunities within your health challenges. Mine made me re-evaluate everything from how I work, to my diet to my personal relationships, I have a new understanding for chronic conditions and am especially passionate about the importance of gut health, I am grateful for this.
As I mentioned, this is challenging to share as it has been such a frightening, personal, long and life changing journey for me but I hope it can demonstrate that when you are determined and when you treat life as an experiment, you can create positive changes within your life and take back some control. If you need further help or support, please do contact us.