Dr. Jon Kaiser
Recovery from ME/CFS - The Results - Part 4
See how Candace responded to her full spectrum healing program...
Candice and I met a couple of months after implementing her full program. The initial improvement she describes is not the end of the story so...make sure you keep reading to the end.
Read Part One - HERE
Candace's treatment program can be reviewed in Part Three - HERE
“I am totally amazed!” Candace said when her bright, smiling faced came onto my computer screen. “It’s incredible how much of a positive effect changing my diet, taking the vitamin supplements and supporting my adrenal glands has made in how I feel. I really didn’t think this was possible!
I was delighted to see that Candace had started moving in a positive direction. Her energy level and brain fog were better, and her daily headaches had ceased.
Now that her basic program was in place and she was improving, we spent most of the visit talking about the continuing need to practice strategic pacing and twice daily healing time. Since Candice had a demanding work schedule, and she was feeling better, it would be easy for her brain to convince her that it really wasn’t necessary to do these things every day.
This is an important stage of the healing process.
Many people suffering from fatigue and other symptoms of post-viral syndrome don’t realize that as they start feeling better, it’s important to stay disciplined with the program; to hold on to some of that new energy and direct it where the body needs it most. There’s a saying in holistic medicine that rings true…where your awareness goes, your energy flows.
For instance, if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with cramping and a spastic colon, just quietly lying in bed with your hands on your belly, and breathing deeply for half an hour will relax the muscles in your belly and increase blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow brings increased oxygen and energy. Where your awareness goes…energy flows.
The next month Candace reported additional improvement. “My daily headaches, frequent sore throats, low back pain and fatigue are all greatly improved. This week my bodywork practitioner said to me, “Candace, your body feels like you’ve been doing yoga every day for the past year! The range of motion in your joints has also significantly improved.”
My instructions to Candace at this point were, “You've been suffering from ME/CFS for almost ten years. Keep working the program to deepen your healing.”
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
I suspected things weren’t going well when Candace moved up her next appointment by several weeks.
This time, when her face appeared on my screen, Candace didn’t appear very happy. She looked anxious and forlorn.
“Dr. Kaiser, I don’t know if I told you I was planning to switch jobs. Well, I did and I’m not so sure it was a good idea. I think I’ve relapsed”
JK: Candace hadn’t told me that she was considering switching jobs. If she had, I probably would have counseled her not to make such a big change until she had become more stable.
Candace had been at her previous job for several years and had mastered its tasks and social hierarchy. It was as if she was on auto pilot. She could work from home and set her own schedule. She had good working relationships with boss and coworkers.
In her new job, Candace needed to become acquainted with a whole new team of coworkers and she was scheduled for an upcoming training week of 12-hour days at the company’s headquarters in Boston. This is not what her doctor ordered!
“We’re meeting today because I’m about to go to Portugal on a long-planned vacation with a friend of mine. And then, at the end of the vacation, I need to fly back to San Francisco for 3 days and then fly to my new Company’s headquarters in Boston for a week of intense training. I’m pretty much melting down right now as I look at what I must do. I need some advice.”
JK: It’s almost inevitable a person with ME/CFS experiences a relapse after noticing initial improvement. Your body is done with the old patterns that used to govern its behavior. It needs you to do the things it needs to heal, or it will express its displeasure with a return of symptoms.
The occurrence of a relapse is your body’s way to communicate to you that may be slipping back into old, unwanted pattern of stress, dietary excess, unhealthy emotional relationships, etc.
I needed to coach Candace through her upcoming travel ordeal.
“Is this a good friend that you’re going to Portugal with,” I asked. “Yes, why?” Candace answered.
“Because if she’s your good friend, she’ll understand when you tell her that you’ll need to take a 2-3 hour rest period every afternoon. You can do lots of things on your trip, but you’ll need to schedule a siesta for several hours every day, so you don’t crash. This will help your body recharge for the rest of the day. This trip can help you rest up for the remaining parts of your challenging travel schedule.”
“That feels right,” said Candace. “I can do that. And my friend will understand. But what about the plane travel between Portugal, San Francisco, Boston and back to SF? How am I going to get through that?”
I told Candace to stay well hydrated, take all her supplements, eat lightly and, importantly, make sure to rest up between flights. And don’t do a lot of multitasking!” I told her.
JK: Fortunately, Candace survived the trip without a serious energy crash. While the first month of her new job was very intense, she was eventually able to moderate her work effort in such a way that her improvement resumed.
We also discussed a strategy I call “quiet coasting”. This strategy allowed Candace to perform at a high level whenever necessary, but also encouraged her to rest whenever possible. Since Candace was such a high achiever, she always pushed herself to excel. I now asked her to consciously hold back, and not push herself to exceed the expectations of others.
This was a novel concept for Candace. Exceeding others’ expectations was her MO. Afterall, she was a woman working in tech sales with mostly male managers. In her mind, she needed to work harder than her colleagues to stand out and be noticed.
All these reasons mean nothing to Candace’s body. Her body has ME/CFS and it needs her to take frequent breaks and NOT push herself hard whenever possible in order to heal.
Candace’s ongoing challenge will be to find a good balance between her work activity (sympathetic nervous system) and her healing program (parasympathetic nervous system). Successfully finding the right balance between these two parts of the nervous system opens the door toward healing.
This strategy was a game changer for Candace. She was able to perform well at work and was able to coast whenever necessary to promote her continued healing. Many of her symptoms have completely resolved, others are significantly improved, and I have no doubt her healing will continue to deepen.
Please forward this blog to your family and friends.
Keep Hope Alive!
Jon D. Kaiser, M.D.
Appointments: (415) 381-7655