My Biggest Struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and How I Overcame It

My Biggest Struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and How I Overcame It
I remember that day so well. I sat on the couch and I was so tired of being sick, tired, and in pain.  

Sick of watching everyone do what they wanted to when they wanted to.
Tired of telling my husband or friends that I didn't feel well enough to go out.
Pain wracked what seemed like every muscle and joint in my body.

Then it happened, I found something that helped me do more of what I wanted, say yes to more, and live with less pain.  What was this magical, miracle cure?

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Do you make time for play? It makes a HUGE difference in reducing my RA flares

Do you make time for play? It makes a HUGE difference in reducing my RA flares
Does playing seem like a waste of time to you? 

Do you feel like there are better things you can do with your time?

Let me tell you, whether you're an entrepreneur, empty nester, or someone with rheumatoid arthritis, unstructured, spontaneous play can be a game changer for you. How? Let's take a look.

One of the first benefits of play, according to this article at HelpGuide.org, is reducing stress. As we know, stress can be a major factor in triggering flare activity for any autoimmune condition.  If you don't have an autoimmune condition, reducing stress in your life allows you to think more creatively and helps you take your body out of "fight, flight, or flee".

If you're not familiar with the term "fight, flight, or flee", it essentially means a heightened sense of alarm your entire body goes through when it senses danger. Its role is to protect and prepare your body to defend itself if necessary. This is fine in small doses, but increasingly it is becoming a long term issue for many.

Another reason it's important is that it helps you think more creatively and problem solve. This is the same clarity you get when you're in the shower.  This can help you think through your problems in a rational, logical manner and take action when needed.

It helps your connections in relationships when you practice play with friends or family. The more good things you can combine, the more endorphins, or even oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is produced. This can also help you feel better and reduce flare activity.

The last thing it can help, if it's active play, is getting your lymphatic system moving. This is vital if you spend a lot of time at a desk, computer, on your couch or bed. Moving lymphatic fluid through your body helps reduce limb swelling, inflammation, and fluid retention (aka cankles). 

There are many more benefits - these are just a few. Can you see how important play can be and how its benefits help reduce the things that produce a flare? This world could use a few more people willing to play, don't you think? 

The Biggest Mistake I See My Clients Make

The Biggest Mistake I See My Clients Make
The one thing I see my clients do over and over again is looking for the quick fix that will also magically heal them. Friends, I cannot tell you how much this breaks my heart. The worst part? There are people (and companies) out there that are more than happy to profit from their desperation. And THAT makes me angry.

So how do you stop falling victim to this? Easy, start doing your research. Look for those who take a balanced approach to treatment, who's been where you are, and who understand that outside of a miracle or Jesus, there's no cure for autoimmune disease. That last bit may be hard to hear, but it's so important. I didn't really see much progress until I sat with that and processed through it.

Does that mean that you're doomed to be in pain, have fatigue and brain fog, and feel like the StayPuf marshmallow man the rest of your life? Of course not! What it does mean is that once you've been diagnosed, you now fall into a life of symptoms management. You may very well even go into remission -which is wonderful! 

But none of that happens overnight. Are there things that make us feel better quickly? YES! My Celebrex helps me reduce inflammation and joint pain when I wake up so that I can do what I need to do. It doesn't heal my RA or the cause of my inflammation though. 

How do you begin the work of going from a quick fix way of thinking to one of endurance and patience? The first step is to recognize or bring awareness to the fact that there is no quick fix. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, right?

Once you do that, you can start to research ways of getting to the root cause of your symptoms. Healing is not linear, which you find out more and more as you travel this journey. I literally started my search on Google (but maybe Duck Duck Go is better nowadays) and I started looking for people who'd managed their symptoms naturally. 

Many of them worked with a chiropractor, naturopath, or a health coach to begin to unpeel the onion layers of root cause work. If you are tired of feeling tired, if you want to improve brain function and your memory recall, if you want to start seeing less inflammation and pain, and you are willing to do what it takes to begin to heal, set up a free discovery session with me. Let's get you some relief and create a plan to help you thrive with chronic pain. 

THC versus CBD for Chronic Pain

THC versus CBD for Chronic Pain
THC? CBD? A little bit of both? Which one works best? 

Continuing the theme of providing clarity to confusing options where there is a TON of information out on the interwebs, I want to chat today about a few things:

1. Which option is better
2. How each may offer pain relief
3. Reasons CBD may not work for you

Which option is better? Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer for everyone. Many doctors and natural healers believe that a combination of the two may provide the best relief for pain. As I often say, talk to your health care team about the legal options available to you and ask for their recommendations. Personally, when I've done one or the other, it didn't seem to move the needle on my pain very much.

How might CBD offer pain relief? Scientists are mixed on the effects of CBD on pain. They believe there is early evidence that CBD has an effect on serotonin levels in the body which ultimately can help ease pain. There is some data that shows the CBD is better at reducing inflammation in the body, which gets to the root cause of chronic pain. More research in this area is needed as the CBD industry is widely varied in results and quality. 

How might THC offer pain relief? THC works with different cannabinoid receptors than CBD, one is the nerve cells and the other immune cells. When it activates the nerve cell receptor, it reduces the sensation of pain. The euphoria from the 'high' enhances this effect but doesn't get at the root cause of the pain the way CBD can.

I've tried CBD and it's not working for me. There are literally thousands of brands of CBD on the market now because it's become a buzzword in the health and wellness community.  

A couple of reasons the CBD you have isn't working are: 

(a) it's not really CBD. Many products contain just a hint of CBD and the rest with unnecessary fillers. So what can you do? Look for brands who independently test their CBD and offer those test results on their website. Shop brands you trust so you know exactly what you're getting.
(b) your body may need a different strain. No 2 cannabis plants are the same, and many CBDs are a combination of strains. Ask CBD suppliers for test results that show the terpene and cannabinoid profiles.
(c) you may need a different type of CBD. There are 3 main types: Full Spectrum, Isolate, and Broad Spectrum. 
(i)Full spectrum contains compounds from the entire plant and while it's the most recommended, you'll want to be careful that they are from organic soil as full spectrum pulls the good stuff as well as the bad stuff from the soil. 
(ii) Broad spectrum is similar to full spectrum but has the THC removed. This can be a good option for those who live in states where THC is restricted/illegal.
(iii) Isolate is considered the least effective but more research is coming out that it is better tolerated and absorbed by the body for those with leaky gut and chronic inflammation. You'll see this one labeled as, "Pure CBD" and contains 99% CBD.

I know this was a long post, but I want you to be able to make an informed choice when it comes to your natural pain relief options. I have a brand I use and I'm happy to share it if you'd like. I can only talk about what I've used and allow you to decide if that's what works for you.

How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

I remember early on hearing from people further down the road than me telling me, "you didn't get sick overnight and you won't heal overnight. No matter what, KEEP GOING." I don't know if I didn't take them seriously or wasn't truly ready to hear that, but it's 100% true. 


When you're at the point of having an autoimmune condition or chronic pain, you're going to have to put in some work, and there is no magic pill. I hope that's not too much of a downer to start with, but I don't want to BS you. I want you to know right off the bat that you will be challenged, you will want to quit, and you may stop and start a few times. This journey is HARD and, at times, can be the most confusing and frustrating process you'll ever go through.


The most important thing to remember is to never give up. 


So how do you do it? Is there a system to follow, a checklist, or a roadmap? Well, yes and no. Because we're all so individual and things can manifest in our bodies in different ways, there are some things that anyone can do. Some pieces require more attention. Clear as mud? Let me explain.


I always begin this conversation by talking about habits. I prefer habits over goals because once you establish a routine, it's still with you. A goal can be moved and changed in a way that may not bring about the change you need to feel better. 


How to start a new habit? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, says that habits that stick start by identifying what's in your individual 'habit loop'.  The Habit Loop consists of 4 parts in this order: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. I'll let him explain this in more detail here.


This is so important because once a habit is established, it becomes part of your routine.  And once it becomes a part of your daily life, you no longer have to rely on willpower or motivation, which removes a HUGE weight off your back that you don't need when you're healing. 


Something else that helps emotionally more than anything else is reading my Bible and praying. While that may not be for everyone, it is THE thing that keeps my mind focused and priorities straight. And on those awful pain days, I can cry out to the Lord, and He comforts me.  


My growing community of fellow spoonies is the best on those days too. They encourage me that today is today, and tomorrow can be better. If you don't have support at home, I encourage you to seek others who are on the same journey. I have a fantastic community that I'd love to plug you into, and it's totally FREE. 


If you are struggling to keep going, feel free to reach out to me, and let's chat. I know how lonely chronic pain can be and how it can feel like no one cares or understands. Please don't let that be you. I'm here if you need to talk. 



 
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