My Story [Part 2]
The diagnosis of a chronic illness can provide relief at finally having answers to questions, but it is only the starting point in the journey of returning to health again. I began this journey at 18 years old and never imagined all the places it would take me. This discovery is my passion, my purpose, and what I want to share with you! Whether you are living with a chronic illness or simply crave health and balance in your life, I want to guide you and show you how it is possible to find sustainable, attainable health by nourishing your body and mind.
This is something I will speak in depth about later, but our current health care system in the U.S. does a great job at treating acute illnesses, but fails us in a lot of ways when it comes to treating people with longstanding chronic issues who require a more holistic approach to care. When I was discharged from the hospital I went from doctor to doctor to follow up on what medications I needed to control my fevers now that my diagnosis had changed to Adult Onset Still’s Disease (AOSD). I was on low-dose chemotherapy drugs that were affecting my liver, high-dose steroids that gave me anxiety and made my face puffy. I was miserable and still was unable to find the best treatment for me. All of the health care professionals I went to were highly skilled in their field and I owe my life to them. They did not, however, seem to take me into account as a person rather than a disease category. I looked to them to give me clues as to how to live my daily life, what to eat to nourish my body, or what other alternative therapies I could try to reduce stiffness in my body or decrease my anxiety, but unfortunately I never got any of this information.
One day I went to see the nurse practitioner at my rheumatologist's office and after listening to my whole story, the one I’d told a million times, she looked at me and said, “Wow, you’ve been though a lot, how are you doing with all of this?” It stopped me dead in my tracks because this was the first person, out of the dozens of health care workers, who had actually looked at me as a person, not as a diagnosis, and asked this simple question that brought me to tears and changed the course of my life.
From there she began to ask me how my medications were working for me, and how we might alter them to better fit my needs and reduce side effects rather than saying "This is just how it’s done”. She took a leap of faith and started me on a newer injectable medication that ultimately was the only drug that worked to alleviate my symptoms. She never rushed me out of my appointments and listened to how my disease was affecting all parts of my life. She encouraged me to do yoga and exercise to regain the strength I had lost. She suggested stress reduction techniques such as meditation because stress is a major trigger in my disease. She opened my eyes to the idea that I was the one that had control, and by modifying my diet and lifestyle I could learn how to live a life not ruled by my disease.
I needed so badly for someone to help me and guide me. Because of this influence in my life I became a Registered Nurse, studied nutrition, and have devoted my life to the quest of attaining holistic health and helping others do the same. This is what I want to share with you!
That no matter where you are at in life, or how you feel, if you have the smallest inkling that you want to create change and live a healthier more balanced life you have that power. And I would love nothing more than you help you realize this power.
xx Christina Tidwell, MN, RN