In healthcare, we talk about a “sickness (or medical) model” vs. a “wellness model.” In the American Healthcare system, we are based mainly on a sickness model… you get sick, break something, develop a heart condition, whatever, you go to the doctor (who is licensed and trained to know about it) and are given some medication to treat your symptoms. Some argue that healthcare should be more about the wellness model, where wellness is stressed, where disease and progression of disease is prevented as much as possible by treating the whole person, socially, mentally, and physically (hence holistic). The body has ways of healing itself when the whole person is taken into account. In the same way, we have ways of healing our lives in order to live well.

As a CFer, I practice the wellness model every day, and thats probably why I haven’t been in the hospital for so long. I do everything I can NOW to prevent getting sick later. My wellness model prevents the chance of future untimely and undesired events from occurring. For about 2 years I have been incredibly active and have been able to run 3+ miles at once. Recently, I have begun to practice hot yoga, which has proven to have immense benefits on my health and well being, especially in the way that it decreases stress that often exacerbates my symptoms and exercises my lungs to be stronger with deep breathing. On top of this, I have probably only skipped 1 or 2 vest+neb treatments in those entire 2 years. Mentally, I have a positive attitude, a hopeful outlook, and a good sense of humor. Socially, I have a network of supportive friends and family who are there to talk to or spend time with on a daily basis.

When I go to the doctor, the holistic approach isn’t always stressed outwardly, and I think thats why those with chronic illnesses tend to forget that there may be more they can do for themselves outside of the doctors office. While going through my medications and daily therapy regimen, a doctor has rarely asked me what else I do. They have hardly ever asked about my attitude or mental coping abilities. They have never recommended yoga or meditation, and never have they encouraged me to go further in my exercise routine, they have only been content that I go to the gym every once and a while. Don’t get me wrong, doctors have immense expertise in treating the medical problems that exist from my CF with medication that works for me and that I would never give up. However, I think its important not to let that be enough. In life, its important not to ever let anything be enough. Go the extra mile when its possible. With my CF, I don’t just focus the physical. Instead, I balance the physical with what ELSE works in order to say “I’m doing well” when asked how I am.

In life, you should do what you can to LIVE WELL. Balance fun with work, spend time with those who make you feel good, find something you enjoy when you’ve spent the day doing something you hate, make time for yourself not just for others, step back in order to see the humor in unhappy situations, or at the very least to laugh at something that is funny when you’d rather think about something that is not. We spend so much time dwelling on small problems. Don’t let dwelling and crying and complaining be enough to solve your problems. Look inside yourself and see what you have the power to do to change your situation. What can you do to LIVE WELL?