13 Hope-Filled Lessons from Illness


Have you received treatment that was worse than your illness?

For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been caught in a snowball of side effects from medication. What started with a routine sinus infection ended up into a host of new symptoms.

I’m a petite, yet typically healthy woman that visits her doctor about once a year. Yet, in one week, I was prescribed 10 different medications and given 3 referrals to specialists. I was told it would be a long road, and I may have to learn to live with the symptoms.

Guess what the cure was? Gradually getting off all the medication that was tearing up my stomach and beginning to eat and sleep again. Now, my sinuses are fantastic and my body is repairing itself.

What helps you get through illness? Illness happens to all of us. It’s how we deal with it that makes the difference between staying stuck or being liberated.

Illness as an Opportunity for Growth

1.   Find joy in the smallest things. Focus even for a moment on one thing that brings you joy. For me, it was a hug, a song, a breath.

2.   Focus on what is most important to you. For me, it is my family, my spouse, and my two kids. I was determined to make it through this medical “crisis,” so I could continue my relationships with family.

3.   Think of medication as a jump start. Medication is like jumper cables. Once the ignition starts, our bodies can heal themselves.

“You can receive too much of a good thing, because sometimes the treatment is more problematic than the illness.” ~ Margaret Otto

4.   Don’t over-focus on symptoms. It’s more useful to focus on how you   react to the symptoms, instead of the fact that you have the symptoms.

5.   Anxiety can make any symptom worse. When you join your fear, you can no longer see the facts surrounding the illness. Anxiety tells you that your symptoms are permanent and that something is wrong with your body. This isn’t always the truth, as many symptoms come and go.

6.   Find a calm person that believes in you. Look for someone to lead you out. If you aren’t facing an ongoing disease, find someone who believes your body will heal itself. For me, it is my spouse, my coach, and my chiropractor.

7.   People can be like tranquilizers. Comfort from a loved one can feel just as good as taking anti-anxiety medication. Turn to others for reassurance more than caretaking, and you will feel the calming, empowering effect without any side effects.

8.   Problems are bigger than the individual. Well-intentioned medical professionals and family members’ reactions can be bigger than the illness. This makes it hard for the individual to gain their own footing in getting better.

“The medical and family system’s reaction to illness can be bigger than the actual illness/symptoms.” ~ Margaret Otto

9.  Answer your own questions. You know what is best for you. Even if you have self-doubt, there is almost always something you are sure about. Focus on what works and doesn’t work for you, instead of leaning on others to answer your own questions.

10.   Define and hold onto your own thinking. I was trying to be a compliant patient, more than listen to my own thoughts and body’s signals. I lost my own thinking when I joined my doctor’s thinking that there is something wrong with my body. When I found my thinking that I was experiencing side effects, not illness, I was on my way to getting better.

“When you join the medical model of pathology, you start to believe there is something wrong with your body, “ ~ Margaret Otto

11.   Medical treatment is an expensive snowball. When not treating a disease, it is more cost effective to let your body repair itself with wholesome, soothing foods, nutrient rich water, healing supplements, and great coaching.

12.   Body repair is possible and takes time. Often, we seek medical treatment to speed up the healing process. A body can repair itself, but it can’t be rushed. If you ever experience problematic treatment or side effects from powerful medications, know it won’t become a chronic condition. It will pass.

13.   Crisis is ripe for learning. There is never a better time to learn than after a crisis. You will never be more motivated to change. And, you will be able to see things more clearly than during calm times. Take advantage of this time to grow and find a new way – a liberating way.

This is the most personal post I’ve written to date. I have learned so much from this crisis that I am bursting to share it with you. Know that I don’t blame the medical system; they had a part in my getting worse, but so did I.

I leave you with this hope. You can make it through a crisis, and may even find yourself in a better place than before the crisis.

Discussion Question: When is medical treatment useful and when is it not?


Recognition: A special thank you to my systems coach. Without you coaching me to look at the symptoms in the context of the system, I’d probably still be sitting by the toilet.

Disclaimer: This post is a composite of what is working for me. Please do not let this replace your own thinking, but let it act as a jump start to uncover what  works for you. I do not have an ongoing disease or illness, so each idea may or may not apply to you.

Photo Credit: “Valley & Peak” by Rohit Gowaikar

4 responses to “13 Hope-Filled Lessons from Illness

  1. Oh Marci, I feel for you. I’m so glad you’re feeling better and thank you for sharing your experience and your lessons. Patience and learning to listen to our bodies is so key.

    • I’ve learned to listen to my body/myself so many times. Some lessons we are meant to re-learn, since learning is never done. The good news is that I’m getting faster in my learning and getting back to health is less arduous than it once was. In a weird way, I’m thankful that I re-learned these lessons, since I learned new lessons this time – that I probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

  2. I’m so sorry that you went through such a hard time, Marci – but I’m grateful that you were able to step back and see the lessons and hope from this experience. That inspires me to do the same in my own life. Thank you!