Chapter 5

Discovering What Makes Us Feel Well

Managing our health can be a full-time job. Whether we get a massage, meditate, or eat a specially prepared diet, we are constantly in tune with our bodies, watching for signs that what we are doing makes a difference. Figuring out what helps us feel better frequently is a process of trial and error, and a frustrating one at that. Sometimes it's hard to replicate the conditions that lead to a good day, or to predict where a bad day went wrong. I liken this to my experience as a new mother. Just when I figured out how many naps my son would take and how often he would nurse, his schedule changed. I learned to expect the unexpected.

In this chapter, we'll take a look at some of the treatments we try that help us begin to heal. Just as our symptoms are unique, so too is our decision about treatment options. The specific therapies highlighted in these pages are those that were mentioned most often or recommended highly by individuals I interviewed. Not all of these treatments are considered alternative. Exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, are recommended by many mainstream practitioners to remedy a wide range of complaints.

But each of the treatments we'll discuss has been well researched by the individuals who use them, all have provided a sense of hope and some relief from painful and debilitating conditions, and none seems terribly harmful. Many of these treatments fall into the general category of self-care, those things we learn to do for ourselves to improve our health. Ultimately, living every day with chronic disease demands our thoughtful consideration and our active involvement, behaviors that may themselves help improve our health.