Almost a decade. I've been on this path for nearly 10 years. That blows me away. It's a blessing and a burden.
How do you encapsulate a journey that spans this much time without writing a tome? Truthfully, not being able to tell my story in a succinct way kept from sharing it for a long time. But with autoimmune conditions on the rise, and the health of most Americans, especially women, on the decline, I figured it was time to try.
I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I'd spent the previous night sleepless, tossing and turning trying to get comfortable. I'd eaten my husband's homemade potato soup and it was so good. But within a few minutes, I had heartburn so bad that I thought I'd never find relief. I popped Tums like candy and went to bed.
After what seemed like seconds, I was up and in the bathroom. If it wasn't coming up, it was coming out. Both felt like lava escaping my body. No one else was sick so I knew it wasn't food poisoning. Then came the joint pain, subtle at first, but then it felt like flames throughout my body and pain that felt like stepping on Legos. OUCH!
I moved to the couch, again trying to find a comfortable position, but nothing worked. My body finally resigned to sleep around 2:30 or 3:00 am and my alarm went off at 5. I was so tired and bone weary, I don't remember fixing the coffee or what I read in my bible. I'd had a few other moments like this over the last few weeks and I was DONE. I knew I needed to see my doctor. So I called into work and made an appointment.
I put water on my body in the shower and struggled against the fire and legos in my joints to get ready. Then I got in the car and drove to the appointment. Again, I don't remember how I got there. Not good, right? I used the automatic doors and the elevator to get to the doctor's office on the second floor. The walk from the car felt a mile long.
I sat in the waiting room and waited for my name to be called. After the nurse put me in the room, I asked her to turn off the lights (they were blinding me at this point). I laid down on the table and went to sleep. Then the doctor came in. She was really worried about me. I remember stumbling over my words and just wanting relief.
I told what had been happening and she told me I probably had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), acid reflux, and chronic fatigue. She told me that this was totally normal for a "woman of my age".Being just 38, I couldn't imagine that what I'd been through was normal but I didn't question her. She gave me a referral to a gastroenterologist, a prescription for Celebrex, and encouraged me to "work on my stress".
I was raising 5 teenagers at the time and my marriage was in trouble. I was in a faith crisis and hated the work I did. Exactly how was working on my stress going to help? But I didn't question her. She was the doctor and I was not. She knew best, right?
After the gastroenterologist wanted to put me on even more medications, I asked what role diet could play in my health. He looked me dead in the eye and said it had no bearing on my condition unless I had celiac disease. So I asked for time to think about it and he agreed. I went home and took the rest of the next several days to research my conditions.
Do you know what I found? HOPE. Hope that I could heal without medication. Hope that I could reverse all my symptoms on my own. So that's what I started doing nearly a decade ago.
If you're wondering where my RA diagnosis came in, while I had the symptoms that day at the office, it took 6 years to get a diagnosis from a rheumatologist. All my doctors and specialists kept telling me my symptoms were normal "for my age".
Y'all, I was 38 years old at my first appointment. What I was experiencing was not normal for someone in their late 30s, but they had no other answers. So I went looking for those who did.
I found a health care team that believes that less is more when it comes to medication, that diet and lifestyle absolutely play a role in healing and that remission is possible. It's a team effort, but I know I'm going to beat this.
What am I doing? Here is a high level summary of what I do each and every day.
-Eating an AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) diet
-Drinking filtered water that removes fluoride without removing minerals
-Get at least 15 minutes in the sun each day and supplementing with Vitamin D3 on the days I can't.
-Do gentle stretches and light strength training at least 5 times a week
-Use essential oils, deep breathing, prayer, and bible study, and walks by the lake to reduce stress.
-Removed all toxic personal care and cleaners from my home. Found nontoxic cleaners instead.
-Made a commitment to reach out to friends and family on a regular basis to keep from feeling isolated.
-Taking clean supplements that fill in the gaps created by digestive issues.
-Use natural, nontoxic pain relievers, heating pads, and frozen veggie packs for icing down my joints
-Take my medications as prescribed and keep my appointment
-Continue to research the latest in natural healing for autoimmune conditions
If you're still reading this, God bless you. I pray that you find what works for you. It can be such a confusing and lonely journey. If you would like a guide to help you on your journey, reach out to me. I love helping others find their path!
*NOTE: I am reader supported. When you buy links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commission. I appreciate your support.