Is remission possible?

I saw my naturopath yesterday and she surprised me with one of her goals. She said that she wants to get me to believe that once I’m better, I’ll stay better, and that I won’t relapse. That had never occurred to me. [As a side note, I’m very impressed that she picked up on this mindset of mine and chose to address it head-on.]

Several friends and family members keep insisting I’ll get better. I keep trying to explain to them that I’ll never be 100% healthy. I’ll always have some symptoms, and I’ll always have these medical conditions. These are lifelong diseases that won’t ever go away, and I’ve accepted that. The best I can hope for is to go into remission, which I’ve never really thought of as a possibility for me, though I know it’s a possibility in general. As for symptoms, my gastrointestinal problems are almost entirely better and my fatigue has been improving, but I think I’ll always be at risk of those returning, and I’ll certainly continue to have pain. Maybe the pain can be reduced, but no one has suggested they’ll be able to get rid of it completely.

I’ve accepted all of that. I’m ok with that. If we could just get rid of my fatigue, I’d be ecstatic! But what my naturopath said really stopped me in my tracks. This whole process has been so traumatic. The symptoms, their impact on my life, the insurance issues, the uncertainty over my future, have all changed me. There are some good changes, like a new appreciation for the little things in life, and a desire to keep my life simple, without the “busyness” that so many people take pride in. I’m glad to have come to these realizations.

But there have also been some bad changes, like more fear. I’m scared to spend money, because what if I can never earn money again? And even if I’m able to work, what if I get sick again and need it for that? I’m scared I’ll never find a life partner who can handle all of my health issues. I’m scared I’ll be a burden on my parents. I’m scared to make plans for anything big (tickets to a show, a small trip out of town, attending a wedding) because what if I have to cancel at the last minute? And if I do get better, what if I get sick again? Will I have the strength to go through this all again. And what if I never improve in the first place?

I think that all of these fears are natural. I also think I have to get rid of them. My naturopath is right: if I’m going to have a goal of feeling X% better, then when I reach that goal, I have to trust that I’ll stay there. I’ll need that mental attitude to propel me forward. Sure, I might have setbacks. In fact, she agreed that I probably will have them. Then medications will be adjusted and I’ll improve. But she thinks there won’t be many and that they’ll be short, just a few days or a few weeks; not months or years.

I want to believe that. I do. Really. But I can’t. Not yet. After the trauma I’ve experienced recently, I’m just not ready. But I’m working on it. I love the idea. I hope she’s right. So when I eventually get a therapist (I started looking for one recently) I think this topic will be at the top of our agenda.

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