Don’t Deny The Diagnosis, Defy The Verdict!
Recently, during a discussion on how to educate on the benefits of manual therapy, a friend of mine urged me to write about illnesses. “Describe various kinds of illnesses to show how well you know each of them,” he said. “Describe how your work helps in each situation.”
Even though I appreciated this suggestion, something inside of me shuddered. Why, you might ask, would I resist employing a sound communication practice? It is because my perspective on dis-ease as well as my daily practice remains… a little cutting edge. Hopefully by the end of this post you, too, will think that this approach is, in fact, simply common sense.
Some of my new clients come with diagnoses from their well-meaning medical doctors: chronic pain, herniated disks and possible need for surgery, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, depression, anxiety, ankylosing spondylitis (the diagnosis I was given years ago and have since recovered), concussions and pregnancy (believe it or not pregnancy is treated almost as a pathology these days by the medical profession, rather than a happy, healthy event showing life unfolding beautifully).
A diagnosis is not a prognosis unless you let it be.
John A. Passaro
Now, take a step outside with me. Observing what we find unusual in others sometimes teaches us something about ourselves. Let’s look at Aboriginals from Australia. In certain tribes, when a man has been condemned to die by the group as a punishment for a serious crime, a wise man conducts a ritual during which he points a bone at the designated guilty person. Through tradition, the condemned knows that this means certain death, subsequently loses his desire to live and dies within days or weeks, even though no outward harm was done. Can you see in this example how much of the ritual’s power is held in this culture and in the strong belief that the condemned person will die?
Now, let me ask you a question. What happens when another wise man in a white coat, more commonly called a doctor, gives the following diagnosis to her or his patient: a fatal illness with three months to live or chronic affliction, with a long and painful experience. The patient then goes on repeating, over and over again, to family and friends that she or he has XYZ condition and, afflicted with the first diagnostic, dies within three months or spends the rest of his or her life in agony with the second.
A diagnosis does not define who we are.
A diagnosis helps us understand who we are and
how much we can achieve.
Does this sound somewhat similar to the first example? Is it possible that our trust in the knowledge of the doctor contributes to creating the predicted outcome? Is there any power in words and beliefs? By using these words again and again what will be created?
Yet labels are so comforting to us. Have you ever been in excruciating pain without understanding what is going on? Do you find yourself going from one doctor to the next hoping for some relief without finding any answers? Sometimes it takes years of research to find a solution. Finally, the correct diagnosis comes to save you from this opaque unintelligible pain and the chaos and solitude of not being understood. I remember the day in 1998 when the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis was given to me after years of unexplained pain and of being regularly bedridden. When the diagnosis finally came, it seemed that all the bells in heaven were finally ringing for me. Hope and help were in sight!
God gives us only what we can handle.
Apparently God thinks I’m a badass!
To this day I remain so grateful to the experienced doctor who knew how to read my symptoms, came up with the right diagnosis and prescribed medication to buy some pain-free time. Unfortunately, quite soon I understood that modern medicine did not have what it took to heal me completely. While the doctors were focusing on differential diagnosis, all the possible details of the pathology and how it would limit my life, I was focusing on me, on the continued health and dreams of a 26 year old dancer who had no intention to live a subdued and crippled life. This positive mind-set, combined with fortunately receiving the appropriate manual therapy, healed me.
If you get a diagnosis, get on a therapy,
keep a good attitude and keep your sense of humor.
Receiving a diagnosis is like receiving a mysteriously derived number: you may get a “10”, but is that arrived at from 5+5, 12-2 or 20/2? What are all the factors at play in your particular dynamic? What are the components producing your personal situation? At which level is it happening: biomechanical, metabolic, emotional, spiritual or all of the above? That’s where your healing journey starts — understanding who you are, what led you to this place and, even more importantly, how to get out of it. As for me, I can’t say that healing from an autoimmune illness is necessarily fast or simple. But thanks to manual therapy, a few years later I am completely pain and medication free.
Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
When a person comes to my practice I conduct a lengthy intake. It’s the rule of my NY state license. However, I do not meet a patient, as in “sit there and be docile, I am the one holding the knowledge and the power here”. On the contrary, I welcome a human being who happens to go through a dis-ease. I see your incredible power of self-healing and I help you clear the way to express the omnipotent you. Beyond the symptoms and the pain, beyond the diagnosis and the fear, I meet you in the field of possibilities.
Being a cancer survivor means living my life.
I have chosen not to let the fact that
I survived cancer define me as a person.
Rather, I draw from the strength
I found while I was recovering.
Sarah, breast cancer survivo
CranioSacral Therapy, Somato Emotional Release and Visceral Manipulation in New York.