Are you in denial about your health?
It’s easy to disregard self-help strategies when a pill promises a quick relief for pain and discomfort. It’s important that you understand that what you do each day has the potential of either helping or hurting your medical condition and emotional health. If you struggle with bladder symptoms, for example, there are simple things that can be done at home that can dramatically reduce pain so that you may not need pain care. Modifying your diet is the perfect example.
Some of you reading this might not believe that or, worse, don’t want to be bothered. You want someone else to make it go away. The problem my friends is that this is YOUR life and YOUR responsibility. You’ve got to take charge, and that includes making good, healthy changes in your life, like giving up smoking, junk food or coffee.
Some of you will say “I’ll never give it up. I love it” and will likely pay the price in pain. Others will see the direct connection between various foods, stress and discomfort and will happily make a change because they WANT to feel better.
I challenge you to LISTEN to those who have been down this road before. Learn from our experience. Be willing to try!
Two Patient Stories That Offer Important Lessons
Judy first called the ICN office after her diagnosis with IC. She was in horrible pain and an emotional basket case. We took the time to clearly explain IC, diet, treatments and so forth over several phone conversations that first year. We cautioned her about drinking coffees and sodas and she said that she understood. Five years later, she called back sobbing in pain, saying that every treatment had failed and that nothing had worked. After reviewing her symptoms, we asked her “Are you still drinking coffee and soda?” She said “No” but her husband on the other phone extension said, “Oh yes she is. She drinks a pot of coffee a day followed by a six pack of diet coke.” She was furious and proceeded to have a bit of tantrum, yelling “That’s right! Take away everything I love.”
“Didn’t we tell you about the diet five years ago?”
She said “Yes.”
“Didn’t you believe us when we said that changing your diet was important?”
She said “No, I didn’t think it applied to me.”
“Didn’t every doctor you saw tell you about the diet and how important it was to try it out?”
She said “Yes!”
“Then why didn’t you?”
Her answer, again, was “I didn’t think it applied to me.”
She lost five years to pain and, worse, her poor diet sabotaged the thousands of dollars of treatments that she had tried and failed. The good news is that when she finally tried the diet, her pain levels improved dramatically. All she had to do was try it!
Marilyn’s husband called the ICN begging for help. He explained that his wife had been diagnosed with IC and was in terrible pain. She was bed bound and living on Morphine. I asked if he knew about the relationship between food and pain, and he said “Yes. But I can’t get her to try. She’s drinking coffee and soda all day and won’t stop.” I offered to speak with her but she refused to talk. I gave him more information and encouraged him to try to talk to her and her doctors.
Six months later, he called back again, this time in tears. Her condition had deteriorated terribly. I asked if she was following the diet, and he said that she absolutely refused to try it. I asked him to hand her the phone and I asked her why she wouldn’t try to help herself. I was stunned when she “I’d rather have my coke and my morphine.” In twenty years, I have never spoken with a woman in such extreme denial AND addiction. It had become a family tragedy and she was clearly incompetent. I advised her husband to seek professional mental health care immediately, not only for her but for the entire family. I can only pray that he did.
So, who do you want to be? Judy, now pain free? Or Marilyn, who lays in bed drinking coke, watching bad TV and is a burden on her family.
By Jill Osborne MA
Created: August 15, 2013