My week got off to a great start.
First thing Monday morning I was fired.
My first appointment on Monday morning was with a rheumatologist I have been seeing twice a year for the past several years and as I made my way to his office I spent the driving time wondering how much of my extremely valuable time would be sacrificed by sitting in his aptly named Waiting Room. Past experiences taught me that on average I would be ushered into his office around 45 minutes after the scheduled time of my appointment. Clearly he did not understand my importance nor appreciate the immense value of my time.
But this day was different. I have been questioning the need for seeing him for some time as all of the symptoms of the version of arthritis I have been diagnosed with seem to have dissipated over the past several years. I have been devoutly committed to a daily regimen of stretching and have also been on a powerful biologic drug for the past five years.
As always, I completed the multipage questionnaire which pointedly asks patients to rate their degree of difficulty in performing a variety of functions like getting out of bed. Getting out of bed has long been a daily challenge for me mostly driven by the fact that I just don’t wanna.
The questionnaire also asks patients to rate the levels of pain associated with numerous activities. All ratings were on a scale of 1 – 10 and I gleefully placed a zero next to each question.
I have in fact pronounced myself totally cured.
The good doctor glanced at my responses, asked a few questions, tested my joints, pulled my finger (No, I didn’t) and told me what I had been hoping he would say.
He said that he didn’t see any need in my coming to see him anymore and that he was sure I had better things to do with my time. I was just about to tell them precisely what those better things were before common sense prevailed and I realized that he didn’t really care he just wanted me out of his office so that he could do what doctors are supposed to do – deal with sick people.
There is a point to the story. I have long believed we create our own realities. I don’t pretend to understand how this all works, but I do believe we manifest disease or health by our beliefs, thoughts, actions, and by the by the manner in which we manage stress.
I am not for a moment suggesting that genetics, the environment, and many other factors, of which I know nothing, don’t play major contributing roles in illness, but from as far back as I can remember, I have believed that we bring a high level of culpability to the quality of our lives.
I do not believe that we, at any conscious level, conspire to bring disease into our being, but rather, through repeated behaviors, we frequently attract the very things we don’t want.
As I look back at moments when illness and disease have been present in my life, I believe I played a leading role in guiding those illnesses into my very being by my lifestyle, by the decisions I made, the things I did, the stuff I’ve worried about, the beliefs I had as well as a host of other factors.
I have many friends who have been torn apart by illness and, sadly, some of them are no longer with us. In no way am I suggesting they willingly and consciously brought the horror of their disease into their lives, I am simply saying it is my belief that our thoughts, beliefs and actions all play a role in everything that happens.
I’m sure many of you will disagree with my premise but there is a corollary to my thinking. It is this: as much as I believe we manifest disease, I am equally committed to the belief that we manifest good health.
Fourteen years ago when I was first diagnosed with a form of arthritis known as Ankylosing Spondylitis, I made a promise to myself that I would not live with something that I cannot pronounce.
Fourteen years may seem like a long time – and the doctor did not pronounce me cured, I did that – he simply suggested there was no need for me to see him anymore.
Throughout these 14 years, I have spent considerable time visualizing, focussing on, and pretending to feel a pain-free and stiffness-free existence The feeling of victory I felt as I left his office was likely the same that is experienced by every Olympic athlete who has stood on a podium and received a gold medal.
Fourteen years of training and finally, I’m the champion.
I see another doctor on a regular basis. I have seen him for many years and he has become somewhat of a friend. I enjoy his company and I will miss him a great deal at some point in the future but I’m determined to be fired by him when he pronounces me cured of Crohn’s disease.
And there’s a respiratory specialist I intend to part ways with soon.
I do feel a little guilty and I hope my departure won’t place too great a financial burden on these learned professionals, but frankly, I’m done with them.
I hate labels. I don’t like wearing them, and I refuse to think of myself as a person with any illness. In fact, don’t think of myself as being anything other than absolutely perfect although my loving wife Gimalle does not share my view of perfection.
Of course I’m kidding, but I believe if we think of ourselves as sick people, we will be sick people, and if we think of ourselves as being in perfectly health, then perhaps we can bring improved, or even sperfect health into our lives.
And surely there is no downside to thinking of, and believing that we are becoming stronger and healthier every day?
As I left the doctor’s office on Monday, his parting words to me were, “I hope I never see you again.”
I’m sure he meant that in the nicest possible way.
Till we read again.
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