Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Purpose of Symptoms

Through the years I've experienced a wide variety of physical symptoms, ranging from unpleasant and annoying to debilitating and dangerous. It's not enjoyable to have symptoms of any kind, but I've learned that symptoms really do have a purpose.
Most doctors are trained to provide symptom relief for patients. Few doctors seem to understand the purpose of symptoms, and that the goal isn't just to make them "go away."

The purpose of symptoms is to let you know that something is amiss in your body and it's time to address it. This is just like when a squeaking or grinding sound in your car makes you realize you better get it checked. Physical symptoms are the body's way of communicating that there's a problem. You would think this concept would be common sense, yet so many people have an unhealthy perspective on symptoms.

There are two extremes in how people handle their symptoms.

One is to ignore them completely and to keep pushing their body to do whatever they want it to their own detriment, usually symptoms getting more and more severe.

The other extreme is to focus on symptoms so much that the person becomes consumed with them and actually perpetuates even more symptoms.

I can tell you that at different times I've experienced both extremes.

I realize that with chronic illness, a lot of time is spent managing symptoms. But I think having a healthy perspective on their purpose helps us handle them better.

First, we recognize that a physical symptom is a message from the body. Then we keep asking questions until we identify the root cause of the symptom. Why is the body asking for help? Once the root cause is identified, then we can select appropriate treatment that will help the body do its job of healing the root cause. Then, hopefully within a short amount of time, the problem is corrected and the symptom goes away, because it's no longer needed. This is the healthy approach to whatever symptoms we experience. And the sooner we address symptoms, the sooner we can help the body resolve them.

So for example, about two weeks ago I started feeling really awful, much worse than I normally do. My body felt heavy, achy and exhausted. I mostly ignored it for a few days, just continuing with my regular healthy habits of taking care of myself. Finally about the 4th day, I realized I better figure out WHY I was feeling so awful. A little detective work revealed two bacterial infections. No wonder I was feeling awful! But since I didn't have other "common" symptoms associated with bacterial infections, I hadn't thought to check that originally. But my body persisted with some symptoms until I discovered the root cause. So now I'm doing specific things to fight the infections and hopefully I'll soon be feeling like my "normal" self again. =)

Sometimes I experience symptoms from detoxing. When the body is ridding itself of toxins, parasites, viruses, etc., there are usually accompanying symptoms. It's important to listen to the body and not push it to detox too quickly or too much at one time. But when I know it's a detoxing symptom, I endure it until that detox cycle is finished. Thankfully, there are some natural remedies that help with symptom relief, as well as with foundational healing. (I'll write more about these two things next time.) 

The main thing is to look past the symptom to the root cause and take whatever steps you can to help your body heal that. So you might say that symptoms are actually helpful things, when we understand their purpose and take a healthy approach to resolving them.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

He Holds Your Hand

Sometimes life feels like such a roller-coaster.

Last week two more of my friends were diagnosed with cancer. Another friend is nearing the end of his journey with cancer. Other loved ones continue fighting their tough battles of defeating cancer, recovering from surgery, trying to survive mold illness, overcoming lyme, etc. It's a tough world out there.

This week I also rejoiced in some good news. The new documentary "The Sensitives" has been fully funded on Kickstarter!!! I'm so excited about all the support this film has gotten! I can't wait to see the finished product. I think it'll be a great tool for sharing the stories of precious people who are suffering with MCS.

Ups and downs. I know that's life, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

Thankfully, today I was reminded that I do have a constant through all the craziness. His name is Jesus. And He holds my hand through every sorrow, celebration, tragedy, triumph, or mundane moment. He is the reason I can have Joy in trials and Peace in stress. He is the reason I can get out of bed each day with Hope. He is the one who gives me Life, even when life is tough.

I hope that encourages you today. Jesus loves you too. He's there for you. He's holding your hand as you hold on for this roller-coaster ride. May His Love give you Peace and Joy, Hope and Life today.

Here's a song I come back to again and again, to remind me that He's holding my hand.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Exciting Newsflash!!!

I had to do an extra post today after my friend Sam called me last night with some good news!

Sam and his family were recently filmed for part of a documentary about people with MCS called "The Sensitives." The film's director does not have MCS, but he was so moved by the stories of people with MCS that he wanted to make this movie to bring those stories to others.

My friend Sam was quite impressed with Drew (the film's director). He was willing to go through all kinds of difficulties in order to film people with MCS (like sleeping in a tent, using special soap, wearing non-smelly clothes, traveling across the country, etc.).

I so appreciate the compassion of this man who is willing to endure hardships to reach out to those in isolation and suffering.

The good news is that the documentary is in the final stages of production! They've started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to finish it. If you can, please consider donating $5 to this worthy project (you'll even get your name listed in the "thank you" at the end of the film). =) And please share about this project with anyone else you know who would help spread the word! 

Here's the link to the kickstarter campaign where you can watch a short trailer of the film and a behind the scenes snapshot. You can read more about this film and even hear part of a song sung by my friend Sam!
The campaign only has 11 more days to reach its goal, so please check it out soon.

I've asked for prayer for Sam and his family on here several times, and I thank you for praying for them. I'm just so excited that God has given them this gift of "being heard" - of letting their story be told and hopefully seeing it inspire others.   

I know what it's like to live in a dark place of suffering and isolation. My experience was short compared to many. Sam and his family have been walking this hard road for decades. But even in the darkness, I believe there is blessing. I read this verse this morning:

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." -Isaiah 45:3

Sam and his family certainly are treasures hidden in secret places. And there are so many more like them. Please join me in sharing about this film and raising awareness and compassion for those who too often feel like they have no voice.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Natural vs Unnatural

Through the years I've tried a lot of different health treatments. And I've talked to a lot of people who've tried things I didn't.

For every recommended treatment there's always a "success" story - "I did this treatment and now I'm totally well!" For almost every treatment there's usually more than one "horror" story as well - "I tried that treatment and it almost killed me!"

The reality is that each body is different. Each health situation is different. Each person has different factors that led to their health problems. So each person needs different things to help them regain their health. This is important to remember when assessing whether a recommended treatment will be good for you or not.

However, I've observed through the years that most health treatments can be divided into two categories:

- Natural to the body
- Unnatural to the body

This applies to any form of health treatment, whether mainstream medical, alternative or wholistic.

By "natural to the body" I mean treatments that the body can understand, can receive without stress, are compatible with how the body functions, etc. 

By "unnatural to the body" I mean treatments that the body sees as foreign, invasive, stressful, not compatible with how the body functions, etc.

Some examples:

Natural to the body - massage, reflexology, deep breathing, stretching, exercise, sunlight, grounding, foot baths/detox baths, etc.

Now obviously even with these "natural" things, we need to be wise...too much sun or exercise is not good; massage and reflexology need to be done within the individual's tolerance level, etc. But in essence, these things are natural for the body.

Things like herbs and essential oils I would consider natural to the body, however with caution because they are quite potent. Be sure they are used appropriately and with the guidance of a professional. 

Some things like juicing and supplements aren't strictly natural to the body, since we have to produce them. But again, when used with wisdom and guidance, I think they can be good tools. 

Things like sauna and coffee enemas may sound natural, but they can still put stress on the body. I always advise caution with things like this. For some people they are a wonderful help, but for others they can be harmful.

Unnatural to the body - IV's, injections, medications, surgeries, electro-therapy, etc.

Please don't misunderstand me here - I am not saying you should never use these kinds of treatments. I am only saying that they are not "natural to the body." I realize that these things are life-saving in many instances, and for that I'm grateful! The point is that when you are evaluating various treatment options, it's helpful to recognize whether the treatment is something natural to the body or unnatural.

Some treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic are considered "alternative" today, but I would categorize them as more unnatural to the body than natural. But again, they do help some people. I think it depends a lot on the specific practicioner whether these treatments are helpful or harmful for people. Personally, I recommend physical therapy, which I think is much more natural to the body (as long as you have a good therapist who doesn't push your body past what it needs).

The point of all this is to help you in evaluating what kinds of treatments are best for you.

A treatment that is natural to the body is not likely to do harm (unless used unwisely or in excess, as noted above). So whether it is very helpful for you or only a little helpful, there is less risk involved in trying these kinds of things. 

A treatment that is unnatural to the body will cause stress in some way. The potential for harm is also much greater. So the question is, will the benefit outweigh the risk and the negative effect of the stress it causes?

In my own experience, I began with many "unnatural to the body" treatments. At one point I even did a treatment where my blood was removed and run through a machine and then put back in my body. (It didn't actually work because my blood clotted so severely, so I basically just lost a lot of blood.) Looking back I can't believe some of the things I tried, simply out of desperation. But eventually I learned how to better evaluate the options and make better decisions for my health. I hope what I've learned is helpful for you as well. =)

P.S. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Do you agree with this theory? Do you have any wisdom to add? Do you have questions about specific treatment methods and which category they fall in? Please let me know in the comments. =)