Susan Ortolano, M.A., CMRC, PCC
Intuitive Life & Relationship Coach

Archive for October, 2009

Here’s the Cure!!

tn_Yellow flowersI really appreciate the love and support of friends, family, and people with good intentions. It means a lot when people reach out and I know when they do, they are just trying to be helpful.

There have been many times, when sharing about my health situation, when people suddenly claim to have the cure. They tell me if I try X, I will be healed; if I try Y or Z, I will be cured in no time. One well-intentioned friend said that if I didn’t try ABC, I would never be well as it was the only path to physical wellness.

 Thanks for the buzz kill, Dude!!

I have been blessed to have (after an initial 22 doctors) a team of 3 that I know, love, and trust. What I like most about each one is that they consult with me as a partner in my own medical care. They trust that I have some sense of my own process and ask me my feedback when we consider treatment protocols. Once we choose a particular protocol we give it some time to work in my system so we can carefully evaluate its effectiveness.

I know there are some great protocols, medications, supplements, and treatments out there and I have surely tried and spent money on many. I have learned to better trust my partnerships with my team to bring forth what is right for my system. If I hear an option that sounds interesting, I will bring the idea to my doctors and get their feedback. We then decide whether or not to move forward and try it.

Some if these well-meaning folks may have seen great results with their miracle treatments, but not all treatments work for every body and it is important to carefully evaluate each suggestion. Some people are so insistent that I try this or that and that I listen to them and then I will be cured. I appreciate the suggestions, people, but please take a step back. I have done research on the internet, have spent many years reading about all sorts of options, and while I may not be the brightest bulb, I am not the village idiot either.

 I had a couple of people tell me that if I would just take more walks, I would be just fine. I don’t recall any of them having M.D. after their name!

 What is really helpful for those folks who want to make a suggestion to someone who has an illness is:

 Ask what they have tried and are currently trying

 Ask if they are open to hearing about a treatment option


If the person says yes, then feel free to share, if they say no, let them know that you have some information if they become interested.

 The key issue I had to learn was finding a balance between being open to hearing about new options and trusting my own instincts and my team of medical people. I never want to shut out any possibilities, but am not going to blindly try everything either.

 For those who want to reach out to loved ones with chronic illness and help, there is one question that is always appreciated. That question is:

 What can I do to support you?

 That question means a lot! Then the information can be shared and those who wish to help will know exactly what their loved one wants and needs.

 For more information about supporting those with chronic and life-changing illness, check out my resource page for friends and families:

But You Don’t Look Sick….

LighthouseI remember after having been ill for about 2 years, one of my closest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. I spent a lot of time supporting her and certainly understood what it was like to be ill. I knew she was going through the worst time in her life and did my best to be there with her through it. She had a lot of love and support from friends and family and today she is cancer free, which is such a blessing.

People tend to understand when you say the word “cancer” that you are really ill and could actually die. There are often physical signs of that disease and of treatment. Many people lose a lot of weight, lose their hair through chemo and look like they are ill.

 The diagnosis that I had was what we call an invisible illness. Many people don’t know what Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Lyme disease, etc. are. They look at me and say “well, you don’t look sick” and assume I’m either lying or that I just feel fine.

 There were times I had little support from my family and some friends because they didn’t know what I was experiencing and didn’t look ill to them. There were actually moments where I thought it would be easier to have something like cancer because people would have a better understanding and more compassion.

On one hand, that was all fine. I’m glad I didn’t look sick and didn’t need a pity party, but because I didn’t look ill and people didn’t understand what I was experiencing, I didn’t have as much support as I would have liked. I certainly didn’t need ‘cancer’ to validate my own process.

 There came a point where I just had to let people have their own opinions and process and if they didn’t believe me or offer support, then I just stayed focused on the people in my life who did and let the rest go. The last thing I needed was to spend my valuable time trying to convince people how much pain I was in and why I needed to take good care of myself. It was hardest with family, but focusing on trying to have this make sense for everyone wasn’t serving my healing process and had me focused in the wrong direction.

 I learned to just let people stew in their own thoughts and opinions and just do what I needed to do to take care of myself. It has not been easy at times, but much better for me.

As I did that, I actually had some people come back into my life who tried to understand and I am happy for that, and letting go of the need to explain myself to everyone felt so liberating!

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson- “We must be our own before we can be another’s.”

 Committing to our own self-care first is most important whether we look sick or not!