Friday, March 12, 2010

Rheumatoid Arthritis Update ~ Tough Decisions

On Monday I went to see my PCP in hopes that he would order the additional blood work my naturopath requested so insurance, rather than me, would pay for it. My appointment was awesome and a good reminder of how supportive my PCP really is. In fact, when I was diagnosed with RA in 2004, I received a call from him at 9:30PM which is when I finished work. I still remember sitting in the parking garage scared out of my pants and crying while he answered each and every question I had. That means a lot.

I haven't seen my PCP since going off meds. We discussed the reasons I went off meds, he explained some of the other drug choices I have, and in the end told me he respects me and since this is my body, I need to do what I feel is best. Wow! He then asked what tests I needed run, asked me to please get an x-ray of my knee (I did) and wanted to know if there was anything else he could do to help me. I surprised myself by asking if he would give me a short term Prednisone plan to reduce the swelling in my knee and knuckle. He was glad to.

I have been completely med free for two years now and Prednisone was the first of the meds to go. The decision to go back on it for two months is not a decision I take lightly. I surprised myself by asking for it and was surprised at the excitement I had in getting started on it. Does this give you an idea of how much pain I have been in lately? This flare has just left me emotionally and physically drained in a way I have never felt. After day one on the Prednisone I did have some regrets when I had to stop taking some of my detox supplements I started on just last week due to possible interference with the Prednisone. But, after many tears I feel good about my decision. I feel like I listen well to my body and my body is telling me it needs a break from the pain.

Today is day four on the Prednisone. I am moving with more ease although my knee still wakes me up a lot at night with pain. The fingers on my right hand were bending yesterday. The biggest change so far though is that my mind feels like it is opening up again. All this pain the last month or more has really caused me to want to do nothing but sit by myself in quiet.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am working with a new naturopath that is closer to home. She was understanding of my decision to go on Prednisone and knew this was a really tough choice for me. She said, "Sometimes when we can't do the things we love anymore, it prevents healing." She assured me we would continue working at finding the root cause of the problem, but wanted to make sure that none of my supplements would interfere with the Predisone. We have been working on detoxing my body and are putting some of that on hold for now as she was afraid one of the supplements may detox the Prednisone out before it has a chance to work in my body. That is the cool thing about working with both natural and allopathic physicians. They can check all this out for you. Plus, while working with a naturopath, I know she will be working at balancing out the negative effects of the Prednisone.

In the meantime, as we wait to see what the Prednisone can do for my body, we will continue to work on healing within. For the next month I will be taking daily therapeutic contrast showers to promote detoxification and treat the pain. If I can convince my family to help out I will also be doing weekly hydrotherapy at home. I have been doing constitutional hydrotherapy at the clinic several times a week for the last couple of weeks while they have been monitoring my flare. I am taking supplements to heal my gut and I am continuing to follow the Body Ecology Diet, but I am adding extra meat to the diet to get my protein levels up. Also, I have increased my fish oil intake for inflammation.

I have had moments this week that I have feared that by taking a round of Prednisone I am straying from my vision to heal naturally. But, really, I don't believe that is true. By truly listening to my body, I am healing in a natural way. I am listening to what my body feels it needs right now. Right now it is telling me it needs a good night's sleep, it needs to be hugged by its family without wincing in pain, it needs a break from feeling drained and it needs to get past this flare so it can put all of its energy back into healing without the use of any medications.

I made a decision on Monday that two days earlier would have felt like steps backwards. Today I feel like I am making steps forward. I am working at reducing the swelling that has been in my knee for way to long, I am giving myself a little break in pain, and I am going to allow myself to have a little fun while moving with greater ease. This isn't a step backward, but a step forwards. This decision was tough, but I am happy with my decision.