If you are experiencing persisting physical symptoms such as stomach cramps, severe fatigue, exhaustion, pain in your muscles, over a period of several months, it is likely that you will go to your doctor in the expectation that they will be able to diagnose your problem and prescribe treatment to alleviate your symptoms. Should they tell you at the end of your appointments and investigations that they can find nothing physically wrong with you this can be bewildering and disheartening. It can be equally confusing for the doctor, who is trained to diagnose and prescribe and may well feel frustrated that he or she cannot help you.
GPs estimate that approximately 50% of patients in their waiting rooms do not have a fixed pathology of disease that they can detect. So what is happening?
Over the past five years my partner Dr David Beales, who was a GP himself for some 30 years, brought together a team of experts to research and seek solutions. We called ourselves the Reclaim Health team and the outcome of this collaboration is our book Reclaim Health: a recovery strategy when doctors can’t explain your symptoms, just published on Amazon. Click this link .
This book is for those who have or are experiencing these medically unexplained symptoms. In writing this, we have benefited hugely from having two expert ex-patients in our team, Julia MacDonald and Janice Benning, both of whom were severely unwell for more than 10 years with chronic fatigue syndrome. They used the tools and strategies in this book to reclaim their own health and have since then applied this process to many clients, with excellent results. Janice and Julia were able not only to provide us with their experiences but also help us to present our findings, tips and techniques in this book in a simple yet powerful way, knowing that when you are unwell you do not have much energy to read, let alone read anything complicated.
We initially approached this as a research project, obtaining funds from the National Institute of Health to research the literature and Janice and Julia then ran a pilot course to test recovery techniques, which we accomplished. One of the keys to success is to give an empowering explanation of the symptoms a patient is experiencing, within the context of their immune system. For more information on this please click to see David’s article.
The two GPs in the team, David and Gina Johnson, have added the science and their practical experience of working with these patients, addressing how the interconnection between mind and body can influence symptoms. I have contributed the coaching processes that can help a patient pursue their goals of wellbeing and return to their lives as healthy individuals, breaking through old patterns and persisting through everyday challenges.
I suspect that any of you reading this may either have experienced these symptoms yourself or know someone who may be struggling to reclaim their health. Do take a look at it on Amazon and buy a copy or send one to a friend you think may benefit. As a not-for-profit team, we have kept the price intentionally low, at cost, £4.83 so that as many people as possible will be able to take advantage of the experiences, science and helpful techniques included in this book.
As a client has commented: “I use my Reclaim skills all the time, and life is good. Forever grateful.” Others can benefit too – both those with symptoms and those medics, coaches, therapists, HR teams, or family and friends who are supporting someone who is suffering from problems such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Irritable Bowel.
It is such a shame to feel so debilitated that you can’t participate or enjoy life. People arrive at this place for many different reasons when their level of tolerance – physical, mental, spiritual – is exhausted. Sometimes people feel so unwell that they can’t enjoy their partner, children, work or even the hobbies they used to love. But as with anything in life this can lead to habits, conscious or unconscious, that keep you stuck and then returning to health and life can seem scary, like too big a challenge. The task can look too steep and so people end up feeling helpless and hopeless.
But it doesn’t have to be an exhausting challenge. Gradually, small step by small step, people begin to take control of their lives again – their thoughts, emotions, physical strength, flexibility and energy. They notice when they are ‘doing’ negativity or pessimism. They begin to develop the ability to say ‘no’ to people they have found ask too much of them. They begin to tune into their bodies and recognise when they need to rest or sleep, when and what they need to eat, what exercise re-energises them, or when they just need to be still, perhaps to meditate or reflect. They begin to define the lifestyle, relationships and environmental choices that nurture them, the creativity that inspires them and to regain a sense of purpose and meaning. And key to all of this is compassion – compassion for self and compassion for others.
Sadly many people are told that they will never recover from these kinds of chronic and debilitating conditions. We would like to encourage them to believe that they can – and include plenty of case studies in the book of those who have turned their lives around to reclaim their health. So I shall just finish with one example of a client in his 20s, Edward, who gave this feedback after sessions with Janice:
“I thought my life was over, but 2 years later I have climbed Snowdon and celebrated with a pint! I wouldn’t have the energy to watch a park run, but now I run it. Knowing there was another way that would allow me to live my life was the most liberating and emotional experience.”
We believe that this book provides that help so do click here to take a peek at it and let us know how you, or anyone you know who reads it, gets on! Do visit our website www.reclaimhealth.org.uk. We would love your feedback.