I’d like to introduce you all to my friend, Jessy. Jessy lives with Rheumatoid Arthritis. One of the many things I love about her is her spirit – she doesn’t give up, she stays positive, and doesn’t let this condition ruin her life. In an effort to share some inspiration and positivity, here is her story.
It was three and a half years ago that my life changed dramatically. It was a cold winter night in Arizona. I woke up shivering. I have never felt so cold in my life. It seemed I had a very high fever. I was shaking so hard that I couldn’t even get myself up to look for some Ibuprofen. I spent the whole night shaking and crying under my blankets. The next morning I couldn’t get up. My whole body was hurting. Every joint was in so much pain. The worse part is that it never went away. I’ve been in pain since.
Three months later, back in Puerto Rico, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Severe Anemia. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues, specifically your joints. It affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body. In my case it was very aggressive and it attacked my whole body. No joint was spared. Even my jaw hurt. The inflammation can also affect other organs of the body like skin, eyes, lungs, blood vessels and others. Causing other symptoms like anemia.
Due to the severity of my condition, and because I was wasting away due to my anemia, I decided to start the traditional pill treatment. Two years later the meds weren’t working anymore and I was starting to present side effects. Some of my side effects were menstrual bleeding for 10 months straight, which is not good when you have anemia, osteoporosis, and my eyesight got affected. On top of that I was in pain.
Having RA means that you will have chronic pain in your whole body, you will suffer from chronic fatigue, and, on your bad days, you will need help with everything. Since mine got out of control, and I was doing worse, this meant I had to stay at home, without a job, depending fully on my parents. This is something that will get anyone depressed, so you can add that one to the list.
Traditional medicine wasn’t doing it for me, so I decided to try with functional medicine. Although practiced by an MD, unlike traditional medicine, functional medicine focuses on the root of the problem instead of the symptoms. My doctor told me that autoinmune diseases are linked to problems on the digestive system. Most likely due to leaky gut. This is when the intestinal lining is damaged to the point that particles of incompletely digested foods, bacteria and waste may leak through the intestines into the bloodstream. The body then recognizes these substances as foreign and the immune system kicks in, and this causes inflammation. Leaky gut may be caused by food sensitivities or due to long term use of certain medications like aspirin and antibiotics, among others.
The first thing my doctor did was getting me into an elimination and reintegration diet. This was to identify food sensitivities. We did a blood test to find out which foods I was sensitive to and eliminated them. We also eliminated all the foods that were causing pain once they were reintegrated. In my case these were: gluten, corn, soy, red meat, dairy, pecans and sugar.
We also started a Vitamin C iv therapy with B12, Glutathione and Magnesium once a month. She also has me drinking water kefir and taking a variety of supplements to help restore the gut. I even took advantage that I’m feeling much better and started to do a bit of exercise. I’m also eliminating my meds. I stopped taking ibuprofen and I started tapering Prednisone once again.
My journey with my RA is far from over, but things are looking good. I’m feeling much better and with a burst of energy that I haven’t felt in a long time. I feel positive and, most importantly, happy.
Being happy with a condition that changes your life so drastically is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. I’m grateful for finally being able to see the positive side of things. For allowing myself to live my life despite the circumstances. For having the courage to get out of the hole I had buried myself into. For wanting to live.
There are many alternative treatments out there for people with an autoinmune disease. There may be one that will work for you, but you will never find out which if you don’t give yourself the chance to try. Having a chronic illness may have changed your life, but you are the one that decides which direction it takes from here. I chose to live. What choice will you make?