Do you know her?
I BET YOU DO.
Lately, I have more and more girlfriends quietly opening up to me that they too are plagued with an autoimmune disease or other painful chronic conditions. The culprits I hear about? Hashimoto's, celiac, guillain-barre syndrome, herniated discs, heart murmurs and the list goes on and on.
Y'all, we are YOUNG. We are too young to be experiencing these debilitating conditions. If this is what life is like in our 40's, what is it going to be like in our 60's? It's easy to go negative and for years I did.
Thank goodness I have now experienced the power of Functional Medicine and know things can get better. Check out The Institute for Functional medicine here and find yourself a certified doctor who will get you on the right trajectory. Worried about the expense? How much is your health worth to you? Yep. Do it.
According to The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), "For at least 50 years, industrialized countries have experienced a dramatic increase in the incidence of autoimmune disorders. Up to 50 million people are estimated to be affected in the US alone and prevalence is increasing."
Prevalence is increasing. Does that scare you?
And did you know that women are more likely to be affected by autoimmune disease than men?
So do you know her? Do you maybe you even love her? Are you emotionally connected to someone who has one of these diseases?
Put aside your annoyances and step into her shoes for a moment. Think her illness is hard on you? I am sure it is. But think about how much harder it is on her. This is not the game you want to win.
A look at her battle.
A Denver Functional Medicine Center asked me to bring to life the person behind the disease.
She is fighting a battle against her poor health. She is not on her last leg, yet she has lost years of her life. She remembers how she used to feel. What she used to do—sprint triathlons and yoga. Now those are a distant memory. She has good days and bad days—more bad than good. So she keeps looking for the one doctor, the one team that will get her better. She knows that she can’t stop until she rediscovers the magic of feeling well.
She is facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She is fighting the enemy within. She looks fine on the outside, but on the inside a war is raging. Her opponent? Debilitating chronic disease. What does that mean? Migraines that won't go away. Insomnia that leaves her exhausted. Unending fatigue. Fuzzy thinking. Joint pain. Ugly rashes. Heartburn. Constipation. Hormones. Depression. Diabetes.
She has an outstanding amount of courage—she is tapping into a strength she didn’t know she had.
And although she is a warrior, there are angry tears. The pharmaceuticals have done little good. She needs to get back to life. She wants to stop hitting pause. She wants her vitality back, her power back.
She needs an alternative approach. A partner who will listen to her story. A partner with intuition. One who can anticipate what will happen next. One who will provide hope. One who does health differently because everything she has tried to date hasn’t worked. A rebel healer of sorts.
What she wants? A team to fight for her. She’s still dreaming of triathlons and yoga, and she's not going to give in.
She is tapping into her own strengths, but can she tap into you?
IF SHE COULD PUT TOGETHER HER IDEAL TEAM, WOULD YOU MAKE THE CUT?
Are you truly on her team—not just in words, but in action?
Or...are you a source of stress for her.
You don't have to answer this out-loud, but think about it. What is your behavior saying?
Feel like you want to be a better team player?
Here are three ideas on how to play well so that she can live well.
- Awareness. Each morning ask her how she is doing—not in general, but specifically at that moment. No one wants to make a PSA (public service announcement) that they are not feeling well. Having to do this is a downer as she runs the risk of being ignored. And that hurts and isolates her even more. So don't wait for her to tell you if the headache is still there, no one wants to bring up bad news. But ask, because she needs you to know.
- Assistance. Once you are aware that she is having a rough start, ask her how you can help. We all wish our prince charming's were mind readers, but since you are not, it's better to ask. Is she having a RA flare in her wrist? Ask her if you can untwist the toothpaste cap, and once you have done that, ask her what else would make her morning better. This question takes very little effort, so get out of your own world and your own needs for a moment and improve her life in that moment. I promise that this small effort will come back to benefit you.
- Appreciation. She is dealing with a chronic condition and is still getting things done. (Maybe not as much as you would like to see, but remember she is not operating at 100%. However you are operating well, so if you want to do more, then do it. But don't put this expectation on her.) So make sure to vocally appreciate what she has been able to accomplish. Be honest, if you had the pain, the exhaustion, the frustrations that she is dealing with, would you have tried to cross things off a list, or would you have holed up in front of the TV or in bed? Thank her for shining her beautiful light in whatever way she can muster.