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Immune for life: thinking yourself sick IMMUNE FOR LIFE: THINKING YOURSELF SICK
At age 25, John was sitting on top of the world; at least, he should have been. The scion of a wealthy and distinguished family, he was bright, well educated, well built and handsome, with a wry wit that people loved. He was also listless, uninterested in others or himself—and suffered from severe ulcerative colitis.
By the time I saw him, he had had the colitis for two years. Every day he had several watery, often bloody stools. His weight had dropped from a muscular 165 to a gaunt 135 pounds. Switching to the higher-fiber Super Food diet, which I'll describe in Chapter Two, helped control his problem, and he gained back ten pounds. I also insisted that he play racquetball for one hour every day. That helped too. Why racquetball? He mentioned that he had played back in college and enjoyed the friendly competition. More than anything else, I felt, he needed something to spark his interest in life, something to look forward to. If racquetball worked for him, then racquetball it would be.
All went well for six months. His colitis continued to improve, he gained ten more pounds and he smiled a lot more. Then he stopped playing, and soon the colitis symptoms returned. This time he went to a gastroenterologist who put him on sulfasalazine (the most commonly used drug for inflammatory bowel disease) and cortisone. He became allergic to the sulfasalazine and developed a toxic hepatitis. (This is not too common an occurrence, but it did happen to him.) The cortisone caused him to swell up all over and develop what we call Cushingoid features. Diabetes then occurred as a result.
Now, with these side effects to go along with his diabetes, he was really depressed. "There's no mind-body connection, Dr. Fox," he insisted. "I was just born to be unhappy and sick." Try as I might, I couldn't convince him that his unhappy thoughts were largely responsible for his physical ailments.
This young man was unknowingly using the power of his mind to suppress his "doctor within." The negative thoughts that filled his head disrupted his body chemistry. In his case, the result was ulcerative colitis, although it could have been any number of diseases, including cancer.
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