Monday, May 25, 2009

My Rheumatoid Arthritis Story

I was officially diagnosed with RA when I was 37 (just 3 years ago). However I was living with the symptoms for much longer. My best estimate is that I'd been living with serious symptoms for at least 2.5 years before that but I never told anyone, not even my husband. I thought I was losing my mind. My joints shouldn't hurt so much at such a young age. My lowest point came during the first few months of 2007.

It was an extremely bad winter with lots of snow, high winds and extreme temperatures. I was working out of the home doing the occasional freelance graphics and the paperwork side of our trucking company. I was also the only person taking care of over a dozen horses and 2 dozen chickens (plus 1 rabbit) that winter. It took me over an hour, twice a day just to make sure the animals and birds had their necessities to stay healthy and alive. Several times the snow got so high I had to move panels (by hand) or create new fencing to keep the horses from walking over the snow drifts. We didn't have electric to the chicken coup that winter so I had to carry buckets of hot water to them everyday. Often I'd spend hours in our skid steer just keeping the driveways open for the cars, kids and husband's semi truck to park. That year the automatic waterer for the stud pen was being finicky and at least once a week I'd have to take it apart to fix it. (This meant working in about 0 degree weather without gloves in just above freezing water - not good for hands with RA.)

When I wasn't outside working I was inside working and taking care of the family. Here was a typical day. Wake up, make espresso to get moving, feed boys, send them to school, another espresso, bundle up in layers and layers of clothing to feed animals and move snow. After I was finished I would come back in and take the longest hottest bath I could stand. Then I'd be able to do all housework, paperwork, shopping, whatever else needed done. Oh, and I was big into cooking big. As in I used to make the most awesome chocolate truffle cakes (weekly). I used to be an amazing cook. People loved my cooking, I loved cooking for people. About an hour or two before dark I'd start all the outdoor work all over again.

The nights were awful. I was in so much pain I'd drink an bottle of wine or several glasses of scotch while cooking dinner. Then I'd take another hot bath hoping it would losen my joints enough for me to relax and sleep through the night, which I never could. I should mention here that from the time I was a young teenager I had insomnia. Which is probably why I drank, because at that time, even a semi-consious swirling bedroom was better than being wide awake and in pain all night long. (By the way, I almost NEVER have trouble sleeping since becoming a raw foodist. When I do have trouble, it is BECAUSE I drank!)

At some point near the end of winter my body kinda gave out. The pain was so intense I just didn't want get out of bed anymore. I could barely walk to the bathroom. My feet felt like they were made of glass and they would crack and break with every step. My shoulders hurt, my elbows hurt, my hips and knees hurt. My hands and wrists hurt so bad I would put off business paperwork until the last minute and could only complete it with multiple cups of espresso topped with either whiskey, scotch or Baily's and doctor prescribed pain killers.

Oh, and I was on so many drugs! One for the RA (methotrexate?), one for pain (Mobic?), one for my stomach because the pain killers had to be that strong, one for cancer which my doctor said helped slow down the quickly advancing RA, one for my chronic bladder infections (because I drank so much coffee and not water - because I didn't want to walk to the bathroom any more than I had to) and the last one was the worst (I called it death in a pill) methoprednezone - steroids, which made me gain more weight which hurt my joints worse and made my hair fall out. Plus I was taking 6, yes I said 6 Aleve every day. Plus 2 Tylonal PM every night. Oh, I nearly forgot I was also taking Clonopin(?) for restless leg syndrome. That winter I'd also read somewhere that high dosages of the OTC drug guaifenesin would help so I took bottles and bottles of it too. It was a good month when my prescription total stayed under $500.

Anyway, my body gave me a wake up call. The pain got so bad I couldn't hardly move. It was all I could do to get to the a hot bath. I begged my family to help with the outdoor chores though they couldn't understand why I couldn't do it anymore. They knew I hurt but they also knew I'd been doing it all winter. I pushed myself through every minute of every day and often, it wasn't enough. Everything I was doing was what the doctors told me to do. I took their pills, I was doing light yoga (which actually aggravated the RA in my wrists!), exercise (I think haying horses by hand counted). I was doing everything right. But my life was still going in the wrong direction.

I was terrified. Terrified of living to be 100 (my grandmother on my dad's side will be 103 this July) and not dying from the RA. Terrified I would live more than 1/2 my life in this awful pain. At one point my rheumatologist said that my RA was one of the fastest he'd seen. That I would more than likely be in a wheel chair before I was 45. (Actually he may have said 40 but it's one of those things you like to block out of your mind.) I almost gave up then but because of my boys I knew I couldn't. I hated seeing their fear and worry in their eyes when they looked at me. I hated that they had to come tuck me in at night.

That is when I started reading about completely alternative cures on the internet. Things doctors won't tell you about. Things like "Living Foods".

Just two years ago there wasn't a whole lot about Alternative Cures for Rheumatoid Arthritis. There was only the basics about RA like the two I'm going to mention now.

Here is a link to the Arthritis Disease Center about RA. Overall the site is very informative, great information. But I noticed that on the page that talks about treatment options there isn't anything listed about Alternative medicine.

However on the Mayo Clinic site, which I don't feel is quite as informative as the Arthritis Disease Center, has an entire page devoted to Alternative Medicine. I don't remember that little page being there before now.

Back then I read any link that mention RA at all. From gold shots to meditation, replacement joints to hypnotherapy I even read up on herbal concoctions that seemed more like witches brews.

But when I found a website called Doctor Yourself by Andrew Saul, PhD I thought I might have found something. And I was right. That book was my starting point. His recommendation for curing arthritis was this: Living on raw vegetable juices eight days in a row, followed by a very light eating for three days, and a raw-food diet for the next ten. So I tried it. And the rest... is history.

Thank You Andrew Saul, PhD! You really did save my life!

And just in case I haven't said it before - I'm going to say it now.
I AM NOT A DOCTOR.
I haven't even seen a doctor since mid July 2007 when I told him I was planning on stopping all medication at which time he said he could no longer help me if I wouldn't help myself.
I AM NOT GIVING ANYONE MEDICAL ADVICE.
I cannot prove or am able to say without a doubt that raw living foods 'cured' me. I can only tell you that I am better now. I am no longer on any medication and that my RA seems to have gone into remission, for whatever reason.

I am only telling you my story.