1: Take a "whole-istic" approach to your health.
Your body is not just pieces and parts. You have emotions, a spirit, a mind. Look at your body as a whole being. Even your cells remember trauma from years past. What I have found is that everything is connected. Stress plays a huge role in your health. Nutrition plays a big part of health. Western medicine tends to be very segmented. Fix the broken arm and send you on your way. What caused the broken arm? Does this person need to slow down? Maybe exercise more? When dealing with your well being, make sure you look at yourself from all angles. Does my illness get worse at work, when I am stressed out over something. I found that my Crohn's disease was most aggravated at work and in how I dealt with my stress management. I found I was not eating right, and I also was not ending time to wind down, and balance myself out. My nutritionist discovered I was taking stress to sleep with me, and not sleeping in a relaxed fashion through the night. This is a time you should be rejuvenating yourself, and I was grinding my teeth while sleeping! Remember you are a whole person. When you feed your body, feed the mind and feed the spirit.
2: No one cares more about you than you.
This may sound selfish at first, but hear me out. I found that doctors are human too, and they do the best they can. They can't tell you everything. They have a lot of demands on their time. If you find out you have a serious illness, read about it. Surf the net. Talk to people. Find out your options. Write questions down so when you see your doctor, you are prepared. If you feel your doctor is not on the same page as you, CHANGE DOCTORS. GET A SECOND OPINION! It amazes me how people will shop around for a car, but when it comes to their health, they just go with whatever doctor they get. Don't worry about hurting feelings, especially when it is you that is physically hurting.
3: Take time to unplug, make time to get back in balance.
There is a lot of discussion nowadays about getting physically back in balance, which is important, but I am also talking about spiritual balance. This is still a challenge for me. It is hard, especially for women, to make time for yourself. I have found yoga to be excellent for balance, for stimulating you inner organs, and also for mental "straightening out". I have recently also tried meditation. Now stop scoffing! We all do a form of meditation at times, whether we are in a bath, watching a fire, looking at stars, listening to music. I tried it with a tape which was an open eye meditation and it was all about aligning the chakras, (which is a whole other discussion).It was very interesting. I find time in my garden is good for me too. Make some alone time for you. Write in a journal, or read. Fill your inner spirit. It will in turn nourish your physical being and this in turn boosts your immune system which we all know helps fight disease.
4: Get healthy sunlight and exercise.
Think about how little sun we get, working all day (especially in the winter). Sun releases healing endorphins in your body, which boosts your immune system. So does healthy exercise. My nutritionist told me to walk a half hour in the morning sun to get all these good things going. I would do this before work, and I don't remember feeling better. I recently have been strength training with my sister early in the morning too. I feel strong and energized. In the winter it is harder to do. Try to go for a brisk walk at lunch, even if it is ten minutes. Get that sunlight. Also be safe with it. Use sunblock.
5: Change your lifestyle, change your diet.
It also amazes me how people would rather take pill upon pill to help symptoms of bad diets and lifestyle rather than get to the root of why they are feeling bad in the first place. Western Medicine is big on trying to fix problems rather than figure out how to prevent them in the first place. Of course! Imagine the billion dollar pharmaceutical companies missing out on all those profits. When I became ill, the doctors told me that diet had nothing to do with it and I could eat whatever I wanted. Well. I found through my nutritionist the "Breaking the vicious cycle" book (which I will get into later), and together we changed my diet. I am drug free now for two years. When I cheat heavily on my diet, I have a flare up, and I have to go on a short stint of meds, but only when I am bad. It is hard to give up things I love to eat, but my life and quality of life is worth it to me. I also feel better overall, and look better. I had an overall check up recently, and I am in great health. Now, about changing diets. For one year I cut out complex carbs. ( I still ate fruit, vegetables, honey and fructose), I started taking natural enzymes when I ate to help my body break down food. I also took acidophilus. All these things helped to bring my intestines back into balance. I also took an easily absorbed multivitamin (did you know most vitamins today are not absorbed by your body?) Then I gradually incorporated whole grains back into my diet. Whole grains are easily absorbed by your body. I started with brown rice. Then corn items (which for my blood type is beneficial to me). I still to this day eat wheat-free. I get alternative breads at Whole Foods®. I eat brown rice pasta. I stay away from refined sugar (bad bad bad for you!).I keep these items to a minimum. I have found ways to bake with honey and fructose. Also, instead of TUMS I use ginger pills to help settle my stomach. Is this all difficult? The first three months are hard, then it becomes a lifestyle change, just part of the routine. People ask if it is more expensive to eat this way. Honestly, yes. But I have been feeling great for two years, and I feel my health is worth it.
6: Detox once a year
This is the hardest thing to do, but probably the best thing you ever can do for yourself. Think about it. When does your system ever take a break? Why not give it one. Also, imagine all the toxins your poor system is barraged with in this day and age. It is in our water, food, air, clothes, etc. When your body's system is busy fighting toxins, it cant be fighting other things. After I got off the steroids, I did a detox. I have done one once a year (I just did one) about a week long. I do two days of just raw veggies, than third & fourth day move to just juices and broth (normally I do this part on a weekend). I keep up with some fiber pills or do a psyillium husk "shake" [with 8 oz. Juice, 2 Tblsp psyillium husk and 1 Tblsp. Bentonite clay]. Shake and drink. Other things I do while I detox is Epsom salt baths, or do an Asian bath (2 quarts of white distilled vinegar in a warm bath) to draw out toxins from your skin. During all this I keep up with acidophilus.
7: Work to live, don't live to work.
My job as an art director at times is stressful, though fulfilling. My previous company took too much strength from me emotionally. I allowed it to get in the way of my life, my family, my husband and myself. I realized all I ever did was work. I would get all caught up in the political nonsense of it all. It was eating me alive. Along with my lifestyle change, I made a job change. I had to make a tough decision, but it has been for the best. I am at a place that allows me the time to focus on my other endeavors at home, as well as care for myself and my family. I am still an art director, and there are times it is stressful, but it does not consume me. Always remember that the reality of your job IS that it is just a job. Care for it, be dedicated to it, but not as much as you care for and dedicate yourself to you and your family.
So those are my pearls of wisdom I have gathered along my journey. I hope they help. If you too suffer from Crohn's disease, I have included links to sites I have enjoyed on my Great Links page. Honey.com is a useful site if you want to cut down on refined sugar. If you are having a bad time, I hope some of what I shared gives you strength and insight. I had a bad time too until I took control of my health on my own. Then things got a lot better. Feel free to e-mail me with questions, I'll be glad to help in any way I can.