When I was 18, doctors discovered that I had ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that destroys the spine and all the major joints of the body.
I began exploring different alternative therapies, but nothing helped. I felt suicidal. I had nothing to live for.
Then I went to see Patch Adams at Gesundheit Institute in Virginia, who supposedly worked very well with people who were depressed about having chronic diseases.
When we arrived at the Institute, circling a bus on a unicycle was a man with long hair, a huge mustache, surgical scrub pants and a T-shirt that said, "Laugh your ass off!"
I walked up to him, thinking, "This can't be the doctor!"
While still riding the unicycle, Patch started conducting my healh inteview. "What is your passion in life? What turns you on? What motivates you?"
We watched a beautiful orange sunset in silence. Patch turned to me and said, "Do you have arthritis while you're watching this?" It turned out that I didn't.
"When you make love with your girlfriend, do you have arthritis?" Throughout all my attempts to control the pain, I had noticed that anytime I made love, I would feel no pain. I also didn't feel pain while dancing.
"All you need to do is indulge yourself in your passions and increase the amount of time your mind is not focused on your physical self," he said.
Patch suggested that I read more and find other things to enjoy.
In time, the more I dosed myself with things that were positive and pleasurable, the better I felt physically. I learned to engineer situations that would make me feel better, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Soon after I met my wife, who gave me perhaps the greatest miracle of my life, my son, Blake. When my wife became pregnant, I thought, "I"m never going to be able to pick up my child." Yet I picked up Blake until he was three years old.
I owe it all to what Patch taught me. We all need to dose ourselves with whatever is positive, upbeat, satisfying and pleasurable. Gareth Branwyn....
(Excerpted from Gesundheit!, by Patch Adams, Healing Arts Press, 1998, see p 12).