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When You Have the Beginning of a Debilitating Illness
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, November 2007

Becoming Aware

Life is going along swimmingly. You feel beyond blessed. Lucky, really. The sun shines on your path. And then Pow! Wham! You discover that you have an illness that you need to monitor because the assessment is that it will be with you for the long haul. How can this be? You ask yourself over and over. You go back and forth about fair and unfair and faith and what did you do to deserve this and on and on. You ask questions but don't get much satisfaction in the answer department. And then you realize that life is full of surprises; some are terrific and some really tough to take. How to move forward?

Consider these tips:

Become Informed - Take the information in as you can. Some people scour the internet and read everything that was ever printed about this particular disease or illness. Others need to ease into it in order to feel less overwhelmed; researching in small doses. It is about tolerance and style and processing information (and is a great reason to go to a medical appointment with a trusting, caring person who can be another set of ears and who takes really good notes!)

Talk With Others - Talk to other people who are dealing with similar conditions. Remember that everyone is different and everyone's experience of illness is unique. Having said that, hearing how another person lives with what you have can be inspiring, instructive and a great source of support (and you may find a compassionate ear, an alternative approach.)

Stay as Fit as Possible - Treat your body well. Exercise. Talk with people about alternative and supportive approaches and strategies such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Flower Remedies, Visualization, Bio Feedback, Vitamins, and making appropriate adjustments to your diet to enhance your health and well being as you adjust and adapt to life with this illness. Remember, this illness does not define you. It is a part of you.

Communicate - Keep your communication open with those you live with or with whom you are close. Be sure they know when you are tired, when you need help (they will know because you will ask for it; they are not mind readers) so you can preserve your energy and care for yourself during more difficult times. Be conscious of how you feel and what doing "just one more thing" might do to you, and set limits accordingly. Adjusting to what you are able and unable to do takes time. And most often, it varies based on a multitude of factors, including stress which is often at the top of the list. Get to know those factors and you will be ahead of the game.

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