Lessons from 9 years of chronic illness – Part 1

Then 26, Now 35, When ‘Before and After’ pic is not about weight loss & ageing but holistic health

A smart person learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise person learns from the mistakes of others.

Ken Schramm

This post is about my experience on chronic illness, research on holistic health and corrective actions.

What to expect? Are you the intended audience?

Research books
A glimpse of my research, wisdom is already there. Time to act!

Rome wasn’t built in one day but they were laying bricks every hour

James Clear
  1. Research books- I highly recommend books as per the image. There’s no way I can reproduce my learnings. This is an attempt to share modus operandi in a capsule form, a micro version of my findings. If you want to benefit from my lessons, don’t rush. I have attached pdf of ‘Become healthy or extinct’ by Darryl Dsouza towards the end.
  2. My Capacity – A researcher and experiential learner. I have developed an interest in holistic healing and I feel that’s the way forward. I worked as finance professional for 11 years, now an artist. I don’t have any professional degree or certification in health, purely my research & meandering experience.
  3. Illness/ Prevention – If you are already suffering from chronic illness (explained later) or want to prevent any occurrence.
  4. Faulty genes Even if you have inherited mutated genes, you can still prevent the expression
  5. Toxic living – Vast majority is at the risk of chronic illness. There are no shortcuts in leading healthy life. Expect an extensive yet sustainable way of maintaining good health.
  6. Weight loss/ Diet plan – Often seriousness comes with increase in body weight and anomalies in blood reports. However, this post is about insights on overall well being, no menu or diet plan. It is to convince your faculties not tongue. The effects are reduction in weight, reverse ageing , reversing illnesses and improvement in energy levels.
  7. My earlier blog – It will be good if you read my earlier blog, it captures simple yet sustainable ways of healthy living. I have explained few concepts, which are briefly referred in this post https://vartikasinha.com/7-sustainable-healthy-habits/
  8. Inner calling – In the past I have read plethora of articles on health and fitness. I got inspired also but didn’t put enough efforts to sustain. One day I felt so strong to work on myself and since then there’s no looking back. I fail but I make constant efforts to improve. For most of us, it will be like any other health blog, if there’s no strong desire to put efforts. We have a choice either we succumb to chronic illness or work on ourselves skillfully. Start with whatever is doable, the key is start from wherever you are.

Do we understand health?

Health is one of the most confusing and debatable topic in today’s time. We all are loaded with umpteen theories, researches, dietary fads and nutritional information. Is this all to help us or to confuse further? If health is the most valuable asset then why are we in a sorry state? What financial & personal goals are we chasing if we can’t secure our body and mind? Who is deciding our food choices? Research and advancement in medicine and science is at its pinnacle, then why chronic illnesses are the leading cause of death? Nearly half of all Americans suffer from at least 1 chronic disease. What are the causes of chronic illness? How to prevent, how to reverse?

To find out these answers, I started researching on nutrition and holistic healing. My personal experience is helping me to decode ‘Health’. Hope It helps you in your journey.

Chronic Illness

Prolonged illness that lasts for more than 3 months, may cause death. Few examples of common chronic illnesses – High Blood pressure, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity, Hormonal imbalance, Thyroid, Cancer, High cholesterol, Auto immune, Constipation, Acidity, Sinus, Migraine, Asthma, Depression, Arthritis, Insomnia, Joint pain, Glaucoma. The list goes on but the idea is not to delve into the diseases.

My Story

The only source of knowledge is experience

Albert Einstein

August 2007, I was traveling to Dehradun, India for work. That one day trip changed the way I think about health and wellness today. I slept early that night as I had to start early next day. Next morning I woke up with red rashes all over my body. I panicked and called up my dad. He thought it was some food allergy and asked me to take anti-allergy. It got suppressed for few hours, but post that it surfaced everyday for years. At 22, I was diagnosed with Acute Urticaria (Autoimmune -Skin allergy). I was in best of my health (perceived health, I will talk about it later), a fresh Chartered Accountant barely 2 months into my first job. Before this I had never fallen sick, no skin allergy except occasional flu. From my stamina, fitness regime, physique and appearance no one could have guessed my health condition.

I consulted acclaimed doctors, various allergy and blood tests were conducted but nobody could diagnose the root cause of allergy. I fasted for few consecutive days to rule out food allergy, but nothing worked. I was willing to quit my job and stay in hospital for treatment. I was told there’s no cure of urticaria in modern science except suppression. I could have choked to death if I didn’t suppress inflammation. In short, it’s like self destruction by the immune system. Dec 2007, my condition worsened and it became Chronic Urticaria, therefore medication for lifetime.

Autoimmune disease is an internal mutiny of the worst kind, one in which our body becomes its own worst enemy. This self-destructive process is common to all autoimmune diseases. It is as if the body were to commit suicide

T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M Campbell II ( The China Study)
Sudden outbreak to Chronic Illness for 9 years

For almost a decade I kept my nails trimmed , sparingly used cosmetics and fragrances. Everyday for years I popped anti-allergy to prevent any occurrence, it kept me going. Just like people pop high blood pressure, thyroid, diabetes and other life support pills. The suppression treatment made me drowsy and started to impact me physically and mentally. Back then I was an Internal Auditor , extensively traveling in different geographies. I had no routine and every day some element triggered allergy. Ironically, I used to check health of company’s processes but didn’t have time to investigate my own health. I was too naive to understand the repercussions in the long run. I had a very limited knowledge about nutrition, it was only about fat, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins. I used to workout daily, eat, sleep well etc. probably because age was by my side. The potency of medication reduced significantly over the period but still I was on mild medication.

In 2012, I stopped medication and explored alternative therapies. I met Dr. Ashwani Sharma (Ayurveda practitioner in Delhi), a humanitarian, for the first time somebody could elaborate my health condition, he mentioned about toxicity and heat in blood, how it’s impacting my organs, prescribed herbal medicine to neutralize acids and build immunity. I was in a state of denial, if modern medicine has failed on me , how some random herbs could cure without any internal diagnosis ? I had no other option but to try. I adopted Ayurveda (Traditional medicine) and Self healing technique. Around Feb 2016 I got completely cured. I never popped any pill or herbal medicine post that.

Still few questions remained unanswered, If I took utmost care of my health then why were toxins building up? What are these toxins? Do I still have in my body? Are they manifesting in different forms? Can I prevent any chronic illness? Am I prepared to handle in future?

As I reflect my own journey, I figured some answers and some are yet to be unfurled. I have started my journey of healthy living, the changes in my lifestyle are gradual yet sustainable. Whatever I have learnt till now is worth sharing.

1. The ‘Why me?’ question

गहना कर्मणो गतिः (verbatim – Gahana karmano gatih)

Unfathomable are the ways of karma (Translation; ‘Karma’ means action)

Bhagavad Gita
Evolution begins with pain

This question is important to be addressed as it hampers personal growth, no matter how philosophical it may sound. It’s not about physical but mental sufferings when we lose a loved one, fall ill or fail in a relationship. It’s about understanding the tools of healing.

My lessons begin with accepting ‘why me’. The word ‘deserve’ creates a myth about entitlement. When something good happens to us, most of us thank almighty, feel blessed and probably entitled. Whenever anything untoward happens there’s a state of denial, self pity and feeling of ‘undeserving’. The cosmic forces are beyond the limitations of human mind. Hence there’s no need to decode ‘why me’? I always believed that I was more conscious about health & fitness than my fraternity, then why was I suffering? Profound learning comes with experiences, it only makes sense in retrospection. I wouldn’t have researched on health, had I not experienced chronic illness myself. Here’s what I learnt and hope to remind myself:-

  1. Instead of ‘Why me’ say ‘ Thank You! It’s me! Divine (lord or cosmic energy or whatever energy you believe in) has some plans through us, just keep going.
  2. Good cells Talk about good health than illness. It takes positive affirmations to heal body. Our body is composed of trillions of cells, largely good. Divert attention from illness to health. We heal faster when we send positive vibes/ energy to our cells(Metaphysics of body)
  3. Peaceful mind Serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine are happy hormones, they get released when we do good for us and others. They help in healing better and faster, that’s why people cope up differently in same circumstances. In short, it takes peaceful mind to heal. There are many ways of achieving it, breathing technique and voluntary service work best for me. Why voluntary service? What it has to do with healing? Because when we help others selflessly we actually help ourselves. I don’t intend to preach any spiritual wisdom, it has been proven scientifically by observing brain waves and release of happy hormones. Find a way to incorporate selfless service in your routine. Start with your community once a week, then gradually imbibe in your routine.
  4. Create and being relevant We haven’t got this life to chase health, things and people. It is to create, what has not been created and being relevant.
  5. Duty to serve Keeping the emotions & intellect aside, purpose needs no definition but action. What’s my reason for getting up in the morning? Is it helping me to evolve? My time in physical existence is limited but my duty is limitless. What is your duty? The purity in you will guide you. Trust your instincts. I am not aware of any scientific evidence to support this claim but evolution of mankind, sharing of wisdom, community welfare are examples of spiritual growth and limitless action.

2. Perceived vs. Real Health

Reality check – How do I stay healthy if I don’t understand health?

I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think


It’s 10 p.m. you are experiencing an uncomfortable feeling (heaviness/ gastric/ acidic/ bloating/ heartburn/ ache/ constipation/ indigestion). You are a fitness freak but unable to pinpoint the root cause, so you quickly rewind the day in your head to find clue. Umm… morning started with few glasses of water, bed tea, bowel movement while checking phone, one fruit , some nuts, 1 hour rigorous workout, dietary supplements, fortified protein shake, low carb/ fat meals, a short walk after lunch, 2-3 coffee breaks, 8 hours with laptop, prolonged conference calls and a piece of cake (come on! you couldn’t be rude to your Boss, it was his wife’s bday). The detective in you nailed it, Cake! that’s causing trouble. Wait! wait! her b’day happens yearly. Does it mean you experience this feeling rarely (less than 5%). If yes then your digestive tract is safe!

So what am I saying here? you did not land in this mess only because of a piece of cake. I will explain bio chemistry of food in the next part. Let’s first decode health!

2a. Diagnose

I always thought maintaining BMI, agility, stamina, endurance and joyful mood define good health. Yes these are indicators but let’s not confuse it with good health. It’s time to treat the deficiencies not symptoms. Below are common indicators of poor health:-

  1. Life support Any pill (modern or traditional) that lets you function or sleep
  2. Supplements Any (modern or traditional ) dietary supplement except Vit. D & B12 will elaborate later
  3. Chronic symptoms – Acne, acidity, allergies, bloating, bad breath, gastric, constipation, joint pain, stomach ache, heaviness, indigestion, hair fall, heartburn, numbness, palpitation, painful periods, irregular periods, premature ejaculation, sexual dysfunction, extreme mood swings, sudden weight loss, weight gain, disturbed sleep etc.
  4. Drug as stimulant Ill effects of alcohol, nicotine and other substance abuse are known. How about caffeine? Caffeine is a widely used drug, absolutely unchecked and unregulated. Long term damages have been proven scientifically however there’s a strong lobby (corporate/ govt.) protecting caffeine, coffee gets a shield of anti-oxidants. Some biased researches claim that it prevents cancer. Of course there are many other sources of anti oxidants that help in preventing cancer. For sure caffeine retards body’s natural healing mechanism( Read – Why we sleep by Matthew Walker). Probably, there’s no problem in having caffeine responsibly (as a treat) provided it doesn’t become a stimulant.
  5. Herbal concoction regular consumption of herbal drinks or food. For instance concoction of traditional herbs for smooth bowel movement. It’s medicine in natural form. Not to be confused with herb infused tea (caffeine free)
  6. Craving for sweets Our body needs natural sugar (fruits), when it doesn’t get fulfilled we crave for sweets. It’s our choice whether we satiate it with fruits or junk
  7. Self diagnose Sometimes symptoms are not apparent, there’s a way to detect health of each organ by pressing few points. It’s called Acupressure, ancient practice yet 100% scientific and harmless. Refer to pg 139 to 151for diagnosis and next steps, pdf of ‘Become healthy or extinct’ by Darryl Dsouza attached below.

2b. Illness or prolonged abuse?

It’s not illness but prolonged abuse

A basic table to depict common causes of prolonged illness. Our body is forgiving that’s why it takes long time to manifest illness, like a rubber band, it withstands our stupidity but only to an extent. It’s frightening, when it snaps. When my body was in self destruction mode, I realised how helpless I was. I didn’t have to suffer and nobody else should. Now we know why cancer, diabetes, heart diseases are becoming very common.

Spend a relaxed day in observing yourself. Make a note of all symptoms or uncomfortable feelings. Don’t look for issues just observe. I bet you wouldn’t have observed yourself like this before. My destination is to activate inherent body healing. It begins with awareness and the good news is IT IS SOLVABLE! Stay tuned for part2.

Please feel free to share, comment, criticize or anything else you want to know.

12 thoughts on “Lessons from 9 years of chronic illness – Part 1”

  1. Very insightful and wonderfully written article Vartika. It’s all about awareness and the day we become aware,our life changes.
    More power to you.

  2. I can clearly relate to what you have penned down, as my journey had been somewhat similar, till a change in habbits brought a new lease of life for me.
    Great experience you have shared!!

    1. Thanks Shyamak , we all are together in this journey of sustainable health, supporting and guiding each other

  3. Mrs. Devinder Ahluwalia

    Excellent self research done by u for healing d chronic illness. It’s a great inspiration n hope for others. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Paresh Shah

    WOW , amazing, simply superb. What a hard work you are doing for society , please keep this going it’s really a great help

    1. vartikasinha

      Thank you very much Paresh Ji. Hope it’s helpful, please feel free to share

Comments are closed.

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