Chronic conditions and ailments that won’t go away end up rooting themselves so deeply into the lives and psyches of patients that, by the time they make it to my office, they are in anguish. The search for a doctor and the effort to seek out meaning behind the symptoms is a memory that is very difficult to erase. In some cases it’s been a whole lifetime, from childhood to parenthood, the full generational circle of life and time that elapses before the patient sees again some of her own earliest struggles spring back to life in her own child. The baby’s same symptoms that the mother herself has dealt with repeated in circles.
Truth No. 1 – You Can’t Medicate Your Way Back to Health.
There is a pang of vulnerability when you discover that the road ahead will be difficult and further discover that the same medicinal treatment is still the only one being offered today.
Have you ever awakened with a headache that lasted all day, for days on end, and nothing you tried worked? Or maybe you have taken over-the-counter pain medications for years to curb certain aches and pains, just enough to get through the work day. And then one day those stop working. Not only do they stop working, but the symptoms actually worsen.
Truth No. 2 – Your Diagnosis is a Powerful Naming Convention, a Label; It Is Not You.
One of the myths about having a diagnosis is that it will, in and of itself, catalyze a whole body of knowledge and a cure. That it will create an Aha! moment and start in motion a new set of standards and practices never before revealed. The reality can be disappointing.
A diagnosis is simply a label; it is a name for a collection of symptoms that is given for the purposes of assigning value. With a diagnosis, the doctor can provide justification to the insurance company for additional testing and for the prescribing of medical devices or drugs. It can give the patient a name that she can spend hours on the internet searching.
Truth No. 3 – Your Current Health Status is Not Your True Potential.
What becomes plainly evident is that nearly all diagnoses begin with a very similar set of warning signs. Having an actual diagnosis is appealing because it brings a kind of closure to the search and points to a direction where healing can begin.
It’s worrisome when symptoms are ill-defined and persistent. It’s hard to communicate precisely with doctors and it feels almost impossible to carry on with family and friends. Everyone has advice. No one really understands how hard it is. Each well-meaning relative has another suggestion and a new set of ideas. Everyone is really trying to help, which is wonderful, if not exhausting. The only satisfying reason for having a diagnosis: Peace of Mind.
Truth No. 4 – Re-Writing Your Health Narrative is Transformative.
With peace of mind comes clarity and options for true healing. Ask anyone who’s spent time in a doctor’s office what it took to nurse herself back to health, and she will likely tell you it took a lot of soul searching, decision making, perseverance and vision. That she saw a fork in the road – one way was the medical route and the other was the road less traveled. It’s very likely that these two roads intersected often as she picked her way back and forth between them based on what she knew and felt was best for her. And that the end result was truly a new beginning.