Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Live Where Accepting Alternatives Is Almost a Requirement for Check Approval

One of the strengths I bring to any discussion on CCSVI and MS is my status as "elder." Not because of my age (52) as much as from the 22 1/2 years since diagnosis. Part of the value of my perspective on new ideas and theories about MS lies in the many years that I've lived with an illness that hasn't gone away.

Every time I said that a symptom was bugging me and wished it would just leave, my oldest sister would say something like: "...that's what we mean by 'chronic' disease." At first I rebelled against that viewpoint thinking that it would be healthier for me to keep thinking that I could easily get rid of symptoms. Healthy denial seems to be the term for that.

I've always wanted to be able to play tennis again. Often I would use that desire to keep an upbeat attitude as I read about new findings on MS. It never was comfortable to think that my last tennis match could be truly the last one I'd ever play. In so many ways that healthy denial helped me keep an open mind when I researched anything new on the therapy and drug horizons.

Integrative treatments assisted my development as much as conventional medicine did. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area where keeping an open mind to alternative wisdom is almost a requirement for check approval, I tried a lot of things. Some actually helped my symptoms: bee stings (part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for many centuries I learned), acupressure (Acupuncture without the needles), and more. I used to call them Alternative, then Complementary, but now call them Integrative Medicine and I still read up on them.

I have switched many of the Integrative Therapies over time eliminating some that ceased to be effective for me (bee stings) while taking on new ones that worked (gentle yoga). As the years rolled by and my symptoms worsened despite my best, forward-thinking efforts I slowly became settled into my life as a person with a chronic illness. The transition came slowly and subtly almost like the fog creeping in from the Bay that eludes notice until it shrouds you in its veils of white.

The fog in my thinking crept quietly into my life without a grand entrance; it whispered that I had few choices that would make any difference. I stayed on FDA approved drugs, saw my doctors regularly (the number of specialists kept increasing to my dismay), and slowly it became easier to just agree with conventional wisdom. I thought it best for my health since nothing got better anyway.

Contentment has a valued place in my life if it actually helps me. Mind you, there's a big difference between contentment and complacency. I've been doing gentle yoga for eleven or twelve years now and it has provided tools to keep me calm in stressful situations. There are many healing aspects to the daily practice of yoga that I plan to keep as a continuing therapy in my life. If only to maintain a calm, steady mind I plan to get down on my matt for as long as I am able to. And if I can't get on my matt I'll practice in bed!

One of my yoga teachers told me about the CCSVI broadcast on a Canadian network that aired in January. Viewing that segment featuring Dr. Zamboni rocked me out of the rut of complacency that I had fallen into. At this time I don't know where the path will lead in my healing journey but I definitely want to keep the tools of contentment and stay away from complacency.

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