Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vexing Illnesses!

I am just back from presenting at the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis Annual Meeting with my colleagues, Julie H. Francis, GCFP, and David C Flemming, MD. We presented our fascinating workshop on uncovering the reasons for puzzling medical problems such as intractable chronic pain, migraine, IBS, interstitial cystitis, and autoimmune disease. The blanket term I use for these problems is "medical disorders of dysregulation."

These illnesses are vexing to physicians because they do not follow the rules. Medications tend not to work, there is no surgery that fixes them, and even the cause is elusive.

These problems are even more vexing to those of you suffering with such a condition for those same reasons. No one seems to be able to help. Now and then something seems as if it is helping and then you are let down when your symptoms return.

The work I have done in my office, and the work I have shared with various colleagues, leads to some interesting conclusions with the potential to help many of you. First and foremost, we know that you are not pretending, faking, or, worse, crazy. You have symptoms, some of which are visible or measurable, others of which are subjective--you hurt, but it cannot be seen by others.

Second, the cause is not straightforward. Many such illnesses have a genetic component (your mother has IBS, too), but the science of epigenetics indicates that genetics is only part of the puzzle. You might have had an accident that injured your leg, but it hurts way too long after. So we look at sets of causes: the accident might have triggered a trauma response from some past injury, your gut may be disturbed due both to genetics and to a really bad experience when you were small, or even too many antibiotics, or all three factors.

Solving puzzles like these is the beginning of getting real help. When we discover the pathway that leads to an illness, we can begin to unravel it. Now, lest you mistake what I am about to say, return to point 1--I know you are not faking. However, if your illness has a trauma component, we need to look at how the response of your brain is involved. Trauma sets in motion a complex circuitry related to the "fight-flight-freeze" pattern we have heard much about. This pattern can get stuck under certain conditions and continue to affect how your mind and organs react to stress. Hence the term "dysregulation".

We'll talk more about this over time. Today's message is that you do not have to continue to be frustrated by your situation. If your doctor is throwing up her hands or the pills you are taking just make you feel foggy, please call the Center for Conscious Living for a free phone consultation at 630-249-1983. Solving vexing medical puzzles is possible. Why not start to feel better today?

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