Putting the puzzle back together

Ever wish you could find the missing piece of the puzzle and solve your health problems?

You probably thought the prescription you were given at the time of diagnosis would be that piece. If you’re like most people though, medication didn’t turn out to be the magic cure that made all your symptoms disappear.

Maybe you tried exercise, or changing your diet, or meditating. If you’re lucky, one of those strategies may have completely resolved your symptoms and relieved your pain, but the fact you’re still here reading this suggests otherwise.

The internet is full of people with stories of hope around Axial Spondyloarthritis if you go looking for them. I sought them out for years and combed those stories for clues.

What had these people discovered? What did they have in common? What might work for me?

Overwhelmingly, one theme emerged. In all their efforts to get well and stay well, most of these people had something in common.

The key to them getting better did not rely on finding one missing piece. The answer lay in putting the entire jigsaw puzzle of their lives back together.

Not just pilates, or medication, or a paleo diet alone.

Most of the people doing well relied on multiple strategies, not a singular focus.

A whole-person approach targeting as many aspects of human health as possible saw their symptoms begin to recede.

And in spite of the common diagnosis, those strategies varied greatly from person to person.

I heard a sentence one day that changed my approach entirely.

“It’s not one thing, it’s everything”.

I’d been pushing my way through strict dietary protocols at the time that left me stressed and depleted. There was no time or energy left for taking a sunset beach walk or having dinner with friends. Being fixated on what I ate (or didn’t eat) was making me miserable and I was still going in and out of flares.

I began doing things differently, pulling back from the perfectionism and single focus.

Letting go of the impossible expectations on myself and my outcomes.  Bit by bit I added in some new things I’d wanted to try; starting yoga, writing in a journal, seeing a different doctor.

I held all of these things loosely. If something didn’t work for me I just let it go and moved on to the next thing.

In time, all of the little changes began to add up and the space between flares got further and further.

Not one thing, lots of things. Small incremental steps adding up over time, and leading toward a life no longer defined by disease.

What small changes are you ready to consider?