12 Tips for Caregivers: supporting your (reluctant) loved-one to start a healing protocol

Your (reluctant) Loved-one

Some people are motivated to begin a healing protocol on their own.

Some are well enough. Can think clearly. Make plans. Set goals.

But others require help to get there.

If someone you love has a chronic health condition, and you think that a healing protocol could help, you probably feel some urgency. You want them to get started. Already.

But what if they’re not ready?

Or worse, what if they’re hostile to the idea?

If you push too hard, they’ll resist.

I know from experience!

How to support your (reluctant) loved one to start a healing protocol

After years in the role of caregiver, here are my 12 strategies:

  1. Do the research;
  2. Build your own support network;
  3. Maintain your sense of humour;
  4. Learn to Assess Leverage;
  5. Learn to Consider Risk;
  6. Start with you (take care of yourself first);
  7. Don’t push (and don’t give up);
  8. Make sure there is more to your relationship with your loved one than illness and recovery;
  9. Without fuss or fanfare, observe, measure and look for patterns;
  10. When openings occur, be ready;
  11. Make the most of this experience as a tremendous, heart-wrenching opportunity for personal growth: because ultimately that’s all you have control over; and
  12. Any nutritional or lifestyle changes you ask your loved one to make, be willing to make them too.

Before Matthew finally agreed to live a healing protocol lifestyle in the long-term, he had become totally unreceptive to the idea of nutritional and lifestyle healing.

Nothing we’d tried had worked

And we’d tried so many things:

  • Vegetarianism. For years.
  • Raw veganism for many, many months.
  • The Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
  • Paleo.
  • And finally, the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for 30 long days in July of 2013.

Nothing helped. So why should he try again?

The disappointment of another failed protocol was more than he could handle. And it felt like the only comfort he had left were his favourite SAD foods.

Leading By Example

I had been paleo for almost two years in the fall of 2013.

Because I had experienced the alleviation of all my health problems, I naturally assumed that he would too. But being paleo exacerbated his autoimmune symptoms.

What I didn’t know at the time was that on an ordinary paleo diet, we were still consuming foods that were inflammatory for him: nightshades, nuts, seeds, eggs and coffee.

But despite his reversion to a SAD eating after several years of trying different nutritional approaches, I stayed paleo.

Primarily because I was experiencing improved health. But also because I had decided that I was not going to participate in enabling Matthew to continue to do himself harm with food.

But I knew I couldn’t be supercilious about that.

  • First, because I didn’t have a debilitating chronic health condition: the obstacles I faced were different; and
  • Second, being arrogant about the path I was taking wouldn’t help me to acheive what I was trying to accomplish, which was to increase his willingness to continue to experiment with nutritional and lifestyle healing.

Back in the early fall of 2013, I didn’t yet know what the answer was, but I was determined to keep trying to find one.

I kept researching and kept coming back to the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

At that point, Matthew was refusing to eat paleo with me and I wasn’t even sharing information about my ongoing research into nutritional and lifestyle protocols because of his antagonism toward the idea.

I was leading by example, but quietly.

For my own well-being, I was not giving up.

Because loving someone with a chronic illness is it’s own kind of anguish. And by sticking to my protocol, I was giving myself the strength to keep going.

I wasn’t pushing my agenda, so I wasn’t giving him anything to push back against.

What Changed?

Two things finally tipped Matthew over into (reluctant) willingness to try a long-term AIP:

  1. The advent of a new, unbearable symptom. He developed debilitating nausea in October of 2013; and
  2. The simultaneous improvement in his psoriasis in the fall of 2013. When we traced it back, we realized that this improvement had started after our 30-day AIP elimination diet the summer before.

It was enough. Just.

He agreed, without enthusiasm, to try.

We decided that if we were going to do it, we had to be committed to the AIP for the long haul. That meant me, too.

We set a date about a month off and I started preparing. Printing recipes, gathering kitchen equipment from thrift stores, getting my head in the right place.

It took work to get him there, and it’s taken work to keep us on the healing protocol path. But it’s been worth it.

And he’s the first to admit he couldn’t have done it without help.

Getting Your (reluctant) Loved-one

12 thoughts on “12 Tips for Caregivers: supporting your (reluctant) loved-one to start a healing protocol

  1. One of these days I hope my loved one will come along with me on the journey.
    Thanks, Petra, for your encouraging words.

  2. As someone with autoimmune illness who feels reluctant to give up on the only part of my life where there’s still some enjoyment – food! – I wish I had a caregiver who could help me. Mathew is very, very lucky to have such loyalty. Give yourself a huge pat on the back Petra x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s