It seems to me that there is a similarity between Rheumatoid Arthritis (R.A., Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. No one seems to know what causes them.|
There is no cure for them. They all rob you of energy, fill you with aches and pain; and make life seem like nothing more than an existence. A good day means that you exist well enough to function in a most basic way and can accomplish the most fundamental tasks. A bad day takes you hostage, and simply having air on your skin can hurt. Sometimes, the pain can be so bad that you feel like you have drain cleaner or acid travelling through your veins. Sometimes, the fatigue is so severe that you feel that when you drop, it will be into the black hole, into the abyss, and a dull panic sets in. I used to refer to it, as the living dead - being alive without having a life.
I finally have my life back and it"s better than ever. I feel and look years younger.
I am pain free and have enough energy to live a better than normal life. The information I wish to share with you today is simple and effective, I am indulging myself here and giving you my personal story.
I was diagnosed with R.A. around twenty years ago. This is my story, and although to many people a lot of this information will not be relevant to them, I am going to include as much of my own story as I can recall, because somewhere, someone, is going to make a connection that may change their life, or like me, ‘Totally Re-invent Themselves.’
For many years, I suffered fatigue. Every time that I mentioned it to a doctor, they simply concluded that it was an iron deficiency and sent me off to eat more meat or take supplements. I was usually pretty conscious of diet as I was
working in a weight loss clinic at the time, and had a very healthy respect for and knowledge of good nutrition. I"d take the iron, I would pick up a bit and life went on, but I never really had enough energy. I simply managed to get through each day and get what needed to be done attended to.
I used to love to party, loved the dressing up, it was the 80’s and boy did we know how to dress up and party. I loved to drink and had a great bunch of mates who would play and laugh and dance all night long. One night, we had a large table booked at a Greek restaurant. It was one of those funny, crazy nights, where we drank champagne and cocktails until we were almost legless. (Excuse the pun, this story is leading up to my literally becoming legless.) I was wearing strappy little stiletto shoes and dancing like a mad Greek to "Zorba", spinning faster and faster, while plates where thrown at the wall and laughing so hard that I fell. There went my knee!
A few days later, I found that I couldn"t stand and that my knee was as large as a rock- melon (cantaloupe). My guess was that I had torn the cartilage and went off to the doctor. He recommended that I have X-rays and I went home to rest and ice-pack it. The X-rays didn’t show any damage, but two months later, I was still walking with crutches and my knee was still painful and swollen.
Many specialists, tests and finally an arthroscopy later, I was told that it wasn"t conclusive, but that I had a pre-disposition for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Who knows what that means! I was sent to a rheumatologist, who advised that it was rheumatoid arthritis. He further went on to explain that arthritis has over a hundred disguises, and they didn’t know what caused it and they didn’t know
how to cure it. He did believe that he knew how to stop the pain and swelling and repress its progression. Back in the 80’s, AIDS was big news and at the time they had ads on TV showing the Grim Reaper. This rheumatologist looked and sounded just like the Grim Reaper. I was stunned and angry. Pictures of my mother came into my mind. (she has suffered terribly for many years with arthritis) and I was suddenly an old lady whose destiny had just been dramatically changed forever.
He outlined a course of drug therapy and casually mentioned that I"d be taking these drugs indefinitely, even though the disease would in fact get progressively worse - he called it management. Now I"ve read enough and know enough to know that drugs always have a down side, and my first line of fire would be some form of natural therapy. He mentioned the name of the drug that he was prescribing, and I asked him about side effects. He said that in rare cases you could go blind. I laughed nervously for a minute and then screamed at him. I was actually blaming him at the time, as I felt that prior to seeing him, I didn’t have arthritis and in fact, I didn"t have it right up until he said I did. In my mind, at that moment, it was like he had actually handed me a ticket and said, “Now here, this is what you have for ever".
My last words to him were, "I came in here unable to walk. Now you say you can help me walk, but I won"t be able to see where I"m walking to". I got into my friend’s car and said, "That guy’s a lunatic" and burst into tears.
I went back to him a few days later, knowing that I would not be taking his drugs or any of his advice, but I did want to collect my X-rays and the results of the blood test.
He had a pen, which was floating above the desk, and I asked how it worked. He said that a sales representative had been in and it was a gimmicky advertising thing. The pen was being held up with magnets or something. The interesting thing though, is that he mentioned that the rep was selling fish oil capsules.
I had read about cod liver oil being beneficial to RA, so asked him for more information. He said he didn"t think that it would be of much use and again pressed the importance of the ‘Going blind drug’. I left and bought myself some fish oil, it was called Lipidic. I was advised by my chemist, who was a Naturopath, to take 6 capsules a day. Since then, fish oil has become hugely popular, as the importance of Omega oils are now widely accepted as having major health benefits.
Fish oil is not a cure for arthritis. It is a really good anti-inflammatory, which greatly reduced the pain. The pain was the biggest hurdle, but the fatigue was now becoming a major problem. I was still not putting the R.A. and fatigue into the same basket. I thought that they were separate things, and that the extreme tiredness was once again an iron deficiency. I was not a vegetarian, so I didn"t know why I would be lacking in iron. At that time, I ate liver twice a week to try and combat the fatigue.
One morning, I slid off the bed and waited until I could put my foot on the floor and walk. This had become a morning ritual. You don"t just stand up and walk, you wait a few minutes as you gradually apply pressure until you feel confident enough to take a step. You then hold your hand on the wall to keep from falling, and make your way to the kitchen for a coffee. One morning, I managed to take the twenty or so steps, only to find myself so extremely tired that I leaned against the kitchen cupboard and breathed like an athlete after a marathon. I thought to myself, "I’m F....d".
Later that day, I took raw liver and pressed it through the juice extractor. I was so desperate, that all I wanted was instant iron. This was my idea of the biggest and fastest dose that I could get. I knew that it was going to taste disgusting, so I poured a large glass of water with lemon juice, so I could wash the liver juice down after I had drunk it. It didn"t help the taste at all! liver juice does not slide down, it grabs your teeth, tongue and throat and stays with you, and you burp up the blood-taste for days. It was the worse
thing I have ever tasted. It did restore my energy level, but I would never do it again. The next few years were broken down into ordinary days and bad days.
When your health goes - everything goes. You can"t fight a good fight when you are in pain and exhausted, things come undone and then everything goes quickly. I wasn"t able to work, and my shop wasn"t making enough to pay the rent. I had taken a second mortgage on the house. The bank was ringing constantly and threatening to sell my home. My eyes had permanent black rings around them, my hair was dry and brittle and I was so thin my friends thought that I had cancer.
Three months later and I was still on crutches. I closed the shop and had to apply for government assistance to live. At the same time, interest rates went up and my mortgage repayments were greater than my income. Each month, the debt grew, until finally I sold the house, paid the bank and actually came out of it debt free with some spare cash, but, with no home, no business and no way that I could work at a regular job. I am mentioning this here, because I later learned the role of prolonged stress in relationship to disease, fatigue and pain.
The fish oil was working pretty well, the stress level was reduced and I started to think that I might have a chance at being normal again. At this time, the swelling in my knee was greatly reduced and the pain was manageable. The knee had become rather deformed looking and enlarged. I had lost a lot of the muscle tone in my leg, and the leg seemed thinner than my arms, except for the giant knee. I took myself off to an Osteopath, who was so concerned about it, that he actually gave me free sessions for a few weeks. (I was still on sickness benefits and couldn"t afford to pay him.) He had me off the crutches and walking within a few weeks. He insisted that I should sit in a swimming pool, and move the knee as much as I could to get the muscles back. This was a real turning point, and I highly recommend osteopathy and gentle water exercise. No matter how painful a joint is, it must be moved to flush away the sludge and to strengthen the muscles.
It is a good idea to see an Osteopath every six to twelve months, as most of us favour one side of the body due to the other side being painful. It is very easy to walk lop-sided when one side is in pain. Gentle manipulation greatly improves circulation and flexibility, and is very beneficial, as quite often we throw the entire body out of alignment.
Over the next few years, I tried everything - except prescribed drugs. I spent vast amounts of money on natural and alternative therapies, and discovered many things that were just plain rip offs, and a lot of things that helped. I had more good days than bad days. I even had the occasional excellent day. I had learned to pace myself. I was very careful with diet and sleep. I came to the conclusion, pretty early on, that most of the natural therapies had anti-inflammatory properties. Some were very expensive and no better than other cheaper things. The fish oil was great, but cost a lot each month. I later got sensible enough to work out that I only needed to replace meat with fish, and that I would also gain the additional benefits of all the other nutrients in fish.
Ginger also seemed to be a good anti-inflammatory, so I would sip lemon, ginger and honey in water throughout the day. Chinese herbs were good, as were homeopathy and acupuncture treatments, but very expensive and not better than fish oils or ginger. Green lip mussel capsules and glucosamine are other
expensive ways of eating seafood.
I tried Minocycline for a while and it seemed to help the fatigue as well as the R.A., but it concerned me to be taking long-term antibiotics so I gave them away as well.
A few years later, I became complacent and thought that I was doing okay, until one night my entire body seemed to have ignited. I thought about that spontaneous human combustion documentary I had seen on television, and waited expectantly to burst into flames. I imagined myself as ‘Ash in a pair of slippers’.
Instead, I burst into tears and my flatmate had to carry me to bed and call a Locum, as it was late at night. I waited four agonizing hours before he arrived. At that point, I didn"t care what drugs he put into me and even euthanasia was an acceptable and desirable possibility. The Locum convinced me that I must take prescribed medication as he noticed that my feet were now becoming deformed, my hands were beginning to look gnarly and I was in big trouble.
I took the drugs for a number of years, and went on like most R.A., sufferers: getting through the days as an almost normal person, pacing myself and doing as little as I could. Every free weekend was an opportunity to sleep. I was back at work and most days were good days. In the back of my mind I resented it all greatly. My searching and experimenting went on. I was convinced that there was something else, something simple and something that would permanently cure this thing.
I had finally made the connection that the fatigue was a symptom of R.A. The fatigue was really my biggest problem at this point. The pain was under control, but this fatigue was so overwhelming. I found myself having to explain myself to people, and I avoided going out with people I didn"t know well. In fact, I pretty much avoided going out at all. I found myself, on a number of occasions, sitting in a restaurant and ‘down would come the curtain’ in an instant. This is not tired like, ‘I should be getting home now’, this is more like a panic attack. You feel that you have about two minutes to explain to people that you are about to permanently and totally drop through the floor and disappear forever. I would sleep for twelve hours, wake up tired and still take an afternoon nap. No matter how much I slept, I always woke up tired. Around this time, I had pretty much given up drinking alcohol, as I had pin-pointed it as a major antagonist. Red wine especially affected me like a Mogadon.
I ate well and paid attention to diet. I had a kitchen bench full of vitamin supplements and rarely ate junk food. I had cut my twelve cups of coffee down to one a day. One day, I was in a situation where I had no option but to eat a hamburger, I was starving and didn"t care. Within minutes of eating it I fell into a deep sleep - I finally got it. I had read about food combining and sort of saw sense in it, but never really applied it. But, in that moment, I looked at all the protein and fat in the hamburger. It contained meat, cheese, bacon and egg, I also acknowledged the high content of salt. I sat and thought about when I most seriously had felt exhausted in the past, I thought about where I was, what I was doing and what I was eating.
copyright Sonya Green
Author Bio :
Copyright Sonya Green. http://www.reinventingmyself.com Sonya is the author of a book called Reinventing Myself, and also offer some Guided meditation C.D's focusing on Stress Reduction, Weight Loss, Healing and Personal Growth, How to get what you really want and need.
Number of comments for this article : 0