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August 10, 2015

You’re the Boss: Manage Your Disease

 

You can manage your disease better than anyone else can. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, asthma, type II diabetes – you may not be able to cure them, but you can manage them to live an energetic, extraordinary life filled with creativity and enjoyment.

How do you manage your disease?

Start with learning everything you can about the disease. Explore the internet top five searches. Trust yourself, you will be able to read sources that will help you. Learn the causes and learn how the disease is diagnosed – what tests and x-rays are helpful. Is a biopsy needed? Learn the treatment options. There are always options – the natural course of the disease without treatment, medical treatment, surgical treatment, and complimentary treatments. Monitor the progress – is it improving, staying the same, worsening. Often staying the same is good enough, as this is managing the disease and will not interfere with your life. If worsening, try another option. Finally, create a healing environment. This is where the mind is a powerful. You can be healed without being cured. It’s in the mind.

What do you need to know about diagnosing your disease?

You may think that diagnosing disease is the doctor’s job. This is true, yet it is helpful for you to learn about the diagnostic process because you’re going to be asked to decide which tests to have. Some are simple, a blood test or urine test, while others such as special x-ray tests and especially tissue biopsies are complex and have potential adverse reactions. So, learn about potential causes of disease and the diagnostic process. Importantly, ask your doctor the reason for the test, what happens if you don’t do the test, the chance of making a diagnosis, the risks of the test, and finally alternative options.

Find out the treatment options.

There are always options. Ask your doctor what happens if you don’t do anything. What is the natural history of the disease process? This will help you several ways. First, the process may resolve over time. Second, you will have something to monitor to determine if the treatment plan is working. Third, it may be a rapid deadly outcome and you will have intense decisions to make. After this, ask about the medical treatment options. What medicines will be used? What is the typical outcome with these medicines? What are the adverse reactions of the medicines? You may need to know surgical options. What is the operation? What are the chances of success? What are the risks? Ask the same questions about chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When you find out the answers, you will be able to weigh the benefits and the risks to make a decision that is best for you.

Monitor your disease.

Now that you have a treatment plan, it is helpful to monitor the progress. This can be simple by keeping track on your iPhone or computer, or developing an elaborate computer graph. Use the 48-hour rule. If the process is improved in 48 hours, continue the plan. If the process is unchanged, give another 48 hours and re-evaluate. If worse in 48 hours, contact your physician and maybe continue the plan or change the plan, depending on severity. If there is dramatic worsening, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

How do you heal?

Healing is a state of mind. You can be healed despite having a chronic disease. I’m reminded of the professional piano player who was blind and emaciated from AIDS, yet as he was sitting at the piano, he told the interviewer he was at peace and healed. He died the next day. You can learn how to heal. There are several do nots: Do not dwell on your disease. Do not complain to others. Do not let the disease take over your life. Follow what has been discussed: Learn about the disease, know you have chosen the best diagnostic studies and treatment options for you, and monitor the process. Develop a positive attitude toward the management plan. This will give you a feeling of control and being in charge of the disease. Next, you need eight hours of sleep, one hour of exercise, and eat the right foods in the right amount including lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and slow-burn carbohydrates. Use the power of your mind, spend alpha brainwave time through meditation. Have compassion for yourself and the organ system involved. Use visualization of healing the process. Develop relaxation techniques through belly breathing and yoga breathing (equal breath in and equal breath out). Manage stress through these techniques.

Take action.

Learn about your disease, know the diagnostic process, understand the treatment options, monitor the disease, and create an environment for healing. You are in charge. You can manage your disease better than anyone else. Your chances of success are unlimited.

Gary R. Epler, M.D. 
Best-selling author of "You’re the Boss: Manage Your Disease

   

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