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How to thrive with chronic disease

Your Life

How to thrive with chronic disease

In the ‘Jeopardy’ of life, we may think we have all the answers, but CHARLIE GRIFFITHS believes we should all be asking ourselves one simple question.

Sometimes as a coach, I feel like Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ classic tale, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (pictured).

Arthur is swept up in the universal quest to find the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything.

The supercomputer Deep Thought, after a period of 7.5 million years, declares the answer to life, the universe and everything to be ‘42’. The computer then has to design a more powerful organic computer, called Earth, to find the question to which 42 is the answer.

I live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and atrial fibrillation (AF): two debilitating conditions with a complex diagnosis and experimental treatment process.

For years, I have been pinning my hopes on a ‘42’ solution, which of course is fanciful. So, with an introspective mindset, I decided to look deeper.

Even if the answer is 42 (some magic drug or treatment), what is the question?

In other words, my chronic diseases are physical challenges, but I have choices.

I can give up and let them take their rather unpleasant toll. I can put up with the discomfort and live a mediocre life.

My comfort zone doesn’t need to be stretched because I have an excellent excuse to not try too hard.

I can stand up and say, “This is what I want to do and achieve in my life!” and just bloody do it.

So, ‘the question’ is: what do I want to do and achieve in my life?

I want to be a coach and help people live the best possible version of themselves. But effective coaches need a niche.

I need to define a demographic I can relate to, and one that is willing to do whatever it takes to get the results they and their loved ones deserve.

The niching process involves identifying ‘pain points’ that potential clients need solutions to.

To do this properly, I learned that I had to pick painful experiences that I have survived.

My list included all manner of nasty stuff such as nursing my sanity through a bitter divorce, a multitude of career changes, and an extended mid-life crisis.

My ‘42 moment’ came when, with biro in mouth and fingers tapping on the desk, the title of my list jumped out and slapped me in the face.

It read: “Pain points”.

I extracted suppressed memories of life-saving surgeries to remove a gangrenous gall bladder and a Hartman’s procedure to remove a large section of bowel after a diverticular perforation.

Then there’s my ongoing IBD and AF. I know about this sh*t, and I’m prepared to draw on my experiences to help others in similar situations.

This is the first time I have publicly spoken about my little medical problems.

I can’t change the past and it’s not something I want to relive.

We recently lived in a caravan park where conversations with grey nomads invariably turned to medical issues, drugs and beloved doctors. When it became a competition, I would change the subject or just leave. If I wanted, I only had to lift my T-shirt to end the discussion.

So, my career path is now settled. At the age of 69, chronic diseases, scars and all, I am available to work with middle-aged professionals struggling with career decisions after being diagnosed with a chronic disease.

More than a worthy cause, this is a worthwhile enterprise through which I will not just survive but thrive well into my seventies and beyond.

What’s your plan?

If this article resonates with you, I would love to hear from you. Contact me at

Charlie Griffiths is a certified life coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner dedicated to helping fellow baby boomers achieve their full potential.

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