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Chronic Health Conditions: Curing vs. Managing

Hello, my name is Kira, I live with a chronic health condition, and I gave up on finding a cure several years go.

After over 20 years of living with chronic pain and illness, I’ve accepted that if I haven’t already found a cure, it’s unlikely I will ever find one unless scientists discover something new.

I know, I know! I know the drill: if I think I’m going to be sick, I will be sick, and if I think positively, I can make great things happen, including curing all kinds of health conditions. I’ve heard this many times, and I also believe it – to a point.

If you’ve got an acute health condition, one than can be resolved, then absolutely, yes, believe you will heal. When it comes to long-term chronic conditions, however, putting all your focus and energy on hoping that the next treatment or medication will cure you can do more harm than good. The problem with "thinking positively," or having sky-high hopes for every new treatment is that it can lead to false hope and then to crushing disappointment, which adds a lot of needless suffering to your life. And not just emotional suffering but physical suffering too, because mental and emotional stress can lead to increased physical symptoms.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting you stop having hope. There is always a possibility that a chronic health condition may resolve itself. Unfortunately, that’s not the norm, so putting your energy and focus on what is reasonable for your diagnosis and prognosis can be a lot more helpful in the long-term.

So with searching and hoping for a cure off the table, what do you do? What I do is focus on symptom and pain reduction rather than on finding the be-all end-all cure. I hope and search for ways to manage my condition, rather than to eradicate it completely. And the great thing is that there are many ways to reduce symptoms, even if just for a while. Symptom reduction and pain relief are realistic and reasonable places toward which to direct hope.

Some of my favourite symptom reduction strategies include:

  • Resting every day lying down with my eyes closed for 20-60 minutes

  • Meditating, including guided imagery meditations

  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet

  • Drinking plenty of water and only the very occasional decaf coffee or alcoholic beverage

  • Drinking a few cups of high pH water (8.5 or higher) two or three times a week

  • Pacing myself

  • Trigger point injection therapy

  • Acupuncture

  • Craniosacral therapy

  • IV iron infusions

  • Body code

  • Massage therapy

  • Physiotherapy

  • Breath work

  • Spending time with good friends

None of these tools are going to completely cure what ails me, but they go a long way to improving my quality and enjoyment of life.

Keeping a realistic perspective of what you can reasonably expect from your body and your life as well as having no (or low) expectations when you start a new therapy, medication or supplement, help prevent false hope and massive disappointments.

When you focus on managing your chronic condition rather than curing it, you have a bigger chance of lowering your degree of physical, mental and emotional suffering and stress. It may take a bit of time and effort to shift your thinking and re-arrange your life and routines, but what have you got to lose?

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