This past year has been a rough one, in more ways than one. As my stepson was fighting a battle no one should have to fight, my own body was starting to rebel against itself.
It started at the tail end of Spring 2013. The fingers on my right hand started to hurt. It was a dull ache than never went away. About a month after my fingers started to hurt, my right wrist started to hurt. Another couple weeks pass, and by this time we are in Florida for six weeks…and my left hand was hurting, soon to be followed by my ankles and the big toe on my right foot. Once it went into my feet, I knew something serious was going on with my body. I could not walk without pain and limping. My husband decided to take me to the emergency room at the Mayo clinic late that night (which was my second ER visit during our stay in Florida. The first one was because we thought I was having a brain aneurysm rupture; which was false, but my neurologist thinks that the smallest aneurysm I was later diagnosed with was formed at that time). They diagnosed me with tendonitis, gave me a brace for my wrist and a prescription for Prednisone and sent me on my way. The doctor did tell me that if I continue to have that kind of pain again that I should probably see a specialist because it could be lupus or arthritis. I had read all about both diseases before even agreeing to go to the hospital, so it did not surprise me to hear him mention it.
I took the medication and within a matter of 24-48 hours I was feeling like my old self again. I was hoping and praying that maybe it was just tendonitis. Yeah right, no such luck. The pain came back with a vengeance about a month or so later. At this time, I was also having problems with my neck and lower back. In September, I finally took myself to an orthopedic doctor and after an MRI, I was diagnosed with a cervical herniated disc and a Chiari Malformation. It explained a lot. For the Chiari Malformation I was sent to a neurologist, who found a brain aneurysm after an emergency MRA, then I was sent to another specialist; a vascular and interventional radiologist (seriously the BEST doctor I’ve ever met…he even gives all his patients his personal cell phone number to call if we have any questions…awesome!!), who then found the second aneurysm and treated both using the pipeline embolization device. To read more about aneurysms, click here.
Right before having the aneurysm repair, nearly a year after the onset of my first set of symptoms, what I feared almost the most became a reality for me…I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My primary care doctor didn’t think I had it and thought it was a little weird for me to ask to be tested for it, but I knew in my gut that it’s probably what I had. You see, back in December, my knees started to hurt. It got to where I was not walking anymore, I was slowly shuffling, the pain was so bad and it was on both sides of my body. Then it went into my elbows and shoulders. So, I tested positive for RA, which sent me to another specialist; this time a Rheumatologist, who confirmed I did indeed have RA. Xrays show no damage to anything yet other than the very tips of my fingers (which is odd, because the damage usually happens in the first two joints in the fingers rather than the tips, according to my doctor).
I was dreading the diagnosis. All I could picture was how disfiguring RA can be. Then I started researching the drugs they use to treat RA. Biological drugs that are very much like chemotherapy (some of it is chemotherapy). And after seeing what chemo had done to my dad and stepson, I wasn’t about to have any of that. I’m still in a state of “freak out” when I think of those drugs. Sure enough, my doctor wants to put me on it because I have active disease, even though it’s still considered early stages. I refused.
I’ve also been doing research into natural cures, and during my research I stumbled across the Paleo Diet. Apparently, many people can and have put their autoimmune diseases (and that is what RA is) into remission by changing their diet to the Paleo diet, also known as Primal or the caveman diet. Basically, you can’t eat any of the tasty stuff that is bad for you anymore. On the Paleo diet, you cut out wheat, legumes, night shade vegetables and dairy. Since I have an autoimmune disease, I must also cut out nuts and seeds in the beginning (called the Autoimmune Paleo, or AIP). We can have all the veggies and meat we want (organic, grass fed preferably) and fruit within reason (fruit can be high in fructose/sugar, so only a few pieces a day). After being on the AIP for 30-60 days (or however long it takes to go into remission), we can start adding certain foods back in, like nuts and eggs to see if it is a problem food. I won’t get into the whys and hows of how this diet works because I’m not an expert, but basically….autoimmune disease can be caused by a leaky gut and this diet gives your gut a chance to heal itself. I started this diet a few days ago.
My doctor thinks I’m crazy. She agrees that this diet looks great (other than the no dairy part) and would be beneficial to me, but not without the drugs too. Of course. Instead of taking the drugs she pushes, I am taking about seven different supplements and vitamins. In order to move without excruciating pain, I am also on prednisone (yes I am well aware that it is bad for me too) again, that will be tapered off over the course of three months. After I finish with the prednisone, I will refuse to take anything else until I see if my diet, supplements and overall lifestyle change has succeeded in putting me into remission. I just have to try this naturally. I’m also a big proponent of Young Living Essential oils, so I will also be ordering some oils that are known to be good for RA, and that can only help me.
I have bought the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, by Mickey Trescott, who has a wonderful blog full of tips and recipes called Autoimmune Paleo. The recipes look amazing! I am also in the process of reading The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, also known as The Paleo Mom. Please click the links for more information on the Paleo Diet. They explain it better than I ever could!
Wish me luck! And please pray for me.
Do you have an autoimmune disease? Have you ever tried the Paleo Diet? I’d love to hear from you!
Other than a post here and there such as my Wordless Wednesday posts and the random giveaways, I’ve not blogged so much this past year. Between my stepson being so sick, then I got sick, my Aunt that was like a second mother to me dying, then my stepson’s death over two months ago, I guess everyone can understand. There were days when I literally physically could not write a thing and other days I just didn’t feel like it. This has been the hardest year and half of my family’s life.
Nothing will ever be like it was.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have good moments.
I still have bouts of depression and I’m sure I will for a while. My husband is also battling depression, on a much deeper level than I am. Not a moment goes by where he doesn’t think of his son. Even the smallest thing triggers memories. One minute he’s laughing or cutting up, and then next he is in tears. It’s hard to move on after the death of a loved one, especially one so close as a son or stepson. We all try to be strong for each other, but really..what is strength? There is strength in grieving. Tears are a good thing.
Then you have the siblings. My youngest daughter, God love her heart, is struggling. I don’t think it’s fully hit her yet that she will never see her brother again; not in this life. I know her other siblings are hurting as well.
I know that with time, these really bad days will become fewer and fewer. I know that by the grace of God, those good moments will once again become good days. And when it does, that doesn’t mean we don’t love any less or care any less. It doesn’t mean that we won’t hurt and miss him. It just means we’ve gotten stronger and gotten used to him not being with us.
I’ve made up my mind to start writing more and posting blog entries. My writings may not follow a theme, it may not always be sunshine and roses, and it may not always be humorous. But it will be therapeutic.