In September 2017, I had my annual x-rays to check on the damage caused by my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). They showed I had managed to halt any further damage (which is quite incredible as my diagnosis x-rays in 2015 showed aggressive damage to many of the joints in my feet and swelling in both my hands and feet). I am also virtually pain-free day to day (with only occasional short flare ups) with no swelling and I’ve even managed to rid myself of the severe fatigue which was completely debilitating and resulted in me having to stop working full time as a teacher. Since my diagnosis late 2015, the only medication I have taken is an 8-week course of steroids in January 2015. After my diagnosis, I decided to fight my RA naturally through diet, supplements, natural holistic therapies and a better mindset.
My life has dramatically changed from when I was first diagnosed but I am now in a position where I can work part time; see family and friends and enjoy my life without being permanently exhausted or in constant pain. I have to be very careful in pacing myself, and the course my life was on has taken a sharp detour. However, I’m very grateful for the improvements in my health and the lessons I have learned along with way, along with my incredibly supportive and loving husband and parents, who have been there every step of the journey.
I have decided that now is the time to tell the story of my journey: from surviving to thriving.
When I was first diagnosed with RA, I struggled to find any book or blog which wasn’t terrifying or depressing about the condition at a time when what I needed most was positivity, hope and reassurance. I’m sure you know the medical explanation of what RA is and the scary big words which imply life is going to be tough and hard for the long-term future, so I’m not here to bombard you with all of that, as you can read that in many other places. I made a decision shortly after my diagnosis in 2015 that I wasn’t going to read all the negative stuff or assume that the only possible treatment was a heavily toxic drug. I was going to undertake my own research and try to fight it in my own way first – as naturally as possible – and try to reclaim my life, albeit a new life.
I started experiencing symptoms in 2013, with severe pain and swelling in my feet which moved to my knees (making it hard to walk long distance or get up after sitting down). It then transferred to my hands – where my hands and knuckles swelled and I could barely get dressed on a morning because the movement in my hands was so restricted, stiff and painful. I had numerous blood tests, but I was initially informed that I didn’t have RA, because it didn’t flag up in the blood test results.
After almost monthly bouts of flu or viruses whilst trying to continue in a highly stressful and demanding teaching job, in November 2015, my body came to a grinding halt and I couldn’t get out of bed for months. After a visit to my new GP, who was pretty concerned by the state of my hands, she sent me for x-rays. The results showed a lot of damage in my feet along with swelling in my hands. I was referred to a rheumatologist and diagnosed with aggressive RA (which they thought had started two years ago) and given an 8-week course of steroids to calm down the pain and swelling. I was told that I would need to start Methotrexate as soon as possible. I made the decision that I wasn’t going anywhere near the Methotrexate drug or any more steroids, particularly as I wouldn’t be able to be on Methotrexate if I was looking to start a family.
Having the formal diagnosis, although expected by that point, came as a big turning point and it also helped me to see very clearly that I needed to make some major life changes. The next day, I handed in my resignation and cleared out my classroom. I realised that in order to try and heal my body, I needed time and space and my job would not allow this. I couldn’t physically do it anymore.
Over this series of blog posts, I will be going into detail about how I worked on healing my body and mind through diet, supplements, holistic therapies and changing my mindset. The next blog post in this series will be all about my diet.
What natural approaches have given you some relief from your chronic illness? Let’s keep things positive ?
*Please note: I am not a medical professional and I am not suggesting that anyone should give up or alter any dose of medication that they have been prescribed. I am only talking about my own life experience and explaining what has worked for me. Please seek appropriate professional medical advice and care.
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