THE BLOG

Body and Soul

23/10/2014 12:56 | Updated 22 December 2014

I was born with Gaucher disease and although fortunate to be diagnosed early in life at the young age of five, back in those days there was little information and no treatment available. Now at the grand age of fifty-one, thankfully receiving treatment once it was approved and became accessible, having lived so many years with a rare genetic disease, I am very in tune with my body, and instinctively know when something isn't right. I have always believed that one's physical health goes hand in hand, with one's mental state. You cannot separate the two, they are intrinsically entwined. Although in the past, traditional medicine has often smirked at 'alternative' treatments, now days many doctors are more open minded.

October being 'Gaucher Awareness Month', I began to ask myself some questions. Why do certain patients have mild symptoms and others suffer severely? Why do some patients recover from additional ailments quicker than others? Why is the pain threshold of some patients high, whilst others have very little tolerance? Everyone is different, and emotions can play a large part in managing to cope, or not, when living with an on-going chronic illness.

Positive thoughts, a cheerful outlook on life and a sense of humour are what keep me going. I don't dwell on what I can't do anymore, but focus on what I can. Concentrating all my efforts in this manner, I am certain helps tremendously. I refuse to let Gaucher disease or Parkinson's get the better of me. I am always busy and occupy myself with writing and public speaking as an advocate, to bring greater awareness and understanding. As I'm so incredibly lucky to suffer from Gaucher and Parkinson's, I get to write from personal experience about two diseases! How lucky am I? (I say this with dry British sarcasm).

It is a known fact, a large percentage of Parkinson's patients are prone to depression which given half the chance, will literally suck one under. Thankfully I have escaped this common symptom, but even I was tested a few months ago when I slipped a disc in my lower back. Despite being the eternal optimist, having great resolve and a fighting spirit, this very common condition that happens to so many, became problematic and compounded by other health issues, made my recovery from something that should have been relatively simple, to an overwhelming amount of complications.

As if up to my waist in quick sand, I suddenly found myself literally slipping away, as if each day I grew a little weaker until I was clinging onto dear life with my fingernails. It was at this point I realized, the slightest sign of weakness, allows Parkinson's to deftly step in and take over without further ado. Suddenly becoming aware of what was happening, I immediately made a conscious decision to fight back with all my might. It took every ounce of energy to crawl out of that quick sand, knowing it was up to me, alone. I clung to a lifeline which were thoughts of my devoted husband, and eventually I pulled through.

It is often only when under such extreme circumstances, one can see with great clarity, and understand how a disease like Parkinson's works. Parkinson's is a perfect example of how the physical manifestations of a disease are often made far worse by one's emotional state. Therefore it is imperative that not only physical symptoms be addressed, but the entire body, taking into account one's mental health. This is where traditional medicine and alternative treatments should meet to ensure a healthy body and soul.

I have never had acupuncture before, but after speaking to several people suffering various back problems who had received some relief from acupuncture, I decided if it could aid the speed of my recovery, it was worth a try. I found a highly recommended qualified doctor who after practicing as a GP for over 20 years, decided to study acupuncture and other alternative treatments, combining these with traditional medicine.

After three treatments I felt some improvement. Now some may say I would have recovered just the same, regardless of the acupuncture, but it's impossible to prove either way. Is it a matter of suggestion? A question of faith? I can't answer these questions, but do know that mind and body respectively need to be cared for together.

http://www.elainebenton.net/