I've heard the stories. You know, the ones where a guy who is dying of cancer rents a ton of funny movies, spends hours a day laughing, and miraculously, he's cured.
I've worked in hospitals throughout my career as a speech pathologist, and I have seen, first hand, how a strong support system, a determined spirit, and a positive attitude can make all the difference in bouncing back and healing from major stuff. MAJOR stuff, like brain surgery and stroke.
I've read about the people who take naps and have pets have lower blood pressure, less cardiovasular issues, and all around live longer. Happy people with happy dogs.
I'm wondering if any of this applies to me. And PKD.
Obviously, a positive attitude is key in dealing with any chronic disease. We have so little control over where our body takes us, but we always have control over how it will affect us emotionally. Ok, maybe not intially when we often feel like news we get is equal to a 2x4 to the gut, but overall, long term, our attitude is one thing we can control. And a positive one only makes life more pleasant, which everybody appreciates.
But I'm wondering about the other stuff--the laughter, the determined spirit, and even the visualization therapy I've come across somewhere. You know, where you visualize something working better in your body, or you visualize a cancer tumor shrinking, or you visualize neural pathways regenerating to overcome paralysis. I have done virtually no research on the subject, but I'm sure if I Google "visualization healing", I'd come up with all kinds of stories.
And who am I to say that it's just a bunch of bunk?
Can patients of PKD approach our disease with the same kind of perspective of somebody with cancer, or a brain tumor, or paralysis? Or are we part of something different, more akin to, say, diabetes or MS? I've never heard anybody say that laughter could get rid of high sugar levels. Maybe I'm just running in the wrong crowds, though.
At the PKD conference last summer, during Q&A I asked the doctors if they had had any experience or anecdotal evidence of success with alternative therapies. As you might expect, most of the doctors scoffed at such a suggestion, except for the doctor who had recommended acupuncture as a way of alleviating symptomatic pain. This particular doctor, however, was quick to point out that acupuncture is a highly regulated field and has been clinically proven to alleviate pain. Translation: your insurance would cover it. Enough said.
The nutritionist piped in with some helpful websites, but even some of that information conflicted with other websites, and the whole thing leaves me scratching my head just a bit. And then somebody always says, "Well, if any of this stuff actually WORKED, don't you think we'd all be USING it already?"
Maybe. Maybe not.
Has anybody out there had success with alternative therapies? What do y'all think about some of the stuff we hear about that is, well, quite frankly, just a little bit out there and different? I know most people have modified their diets to try and slow down progression of PKD, and I'm totally all about that. But can the mind be as powerful a tool for healing for PKD as it has been reported to be for other ailments?
Just a thought.