Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Naturopathic Appointment and Decisions

Here I am once again, almost seven years later, reading about medications and trying to make decisions that are best for my family and me.

In 2004 when I was diagnosed, I went from waking up with stiff fingers to barely being able to walk in about six to eight months. Before going on any medications I read about diet, supplements and other alternative care but it was so overwhelming to me that I didn't know which direction to go. I do still remember the day that I agreed to take the medications. My daughter Sophia was only six years old and she wanted me to skip with her, something we did a lot. I couldn't. It hurt too much. I remember deciding at that moment that if meds meant I could still be the mom I wanted to be, than the side effects were worth it. That's when I began my journey on meds. Unfortunately, I kept going downhill on the drugs. That is until I started seeing a naturopath. Once she helped me clean out the inflammatory foods and build up missing links in my body, the meds started working and I went into remission with a few flares here and there until the end of 2007 when the painful feet returned. (Also when some inflammatory foods were returned) In early 2008 I went off all medications.

Last week Sophia, Alexander and I spent the afternoon drawing on the driveway. Several times that day Sophia mentioned to me that it was really fun to draw together. It was fun. We spend a lot of time together, but in the last few years, especially last six months, we haven't PLAYED together. I want to still play with my kids.

At my appointment with my naturopath on Saturday she asked me what I want to do that I can't do without the prednisone.

1. Play with my kids.
2. Walk our dog.
3. Bike Ride.
4. Put dishes away.
5. Much, much more.

We talked about my fears:
1. I will go from med to med and they won't work.
2. Side effects.

We talked about my options.
1. I can continue to treat this 100% alternatively. We are adding some herbs that help with joint destruction and inflammation and I can try that for several months and see how I do.
2. I can give the DMARD the rheumatologist wants me to take a try. My naturopath said our goal will be to keep the DMARD at a low dose and not add other meds if possible. She gave me encouragement that my body is very clean compared to 2004 when I started on methotrexate. She feels that with all the good changes I have made that the meds will be able to work with more ease in my body and therefore we won't have to add as much. With her help I was originally able to greatly reduce my meds.

Finally we talked about how this is not a FAILURE if I decide to take the DMARD. This is the most difficult for me and the reason I love my naturopath so much. She just sensed that I was feeling this way. Being med free has been my personal goal since being diagnosed. It has been my passion. I know I am not giving up on all the good things I have accomplished, but still.....it is hard. My mom gave me a scenario the other day that really made sense to me. She said, "Maybe you want to have a natural birth (I did) and it just doesn't work out (it didn't) and you end up having a c-section instead of that natural birth (I did). Did you still get what you wanted?" (I did and the births of both kids were still so beautiful). She reminded me that sometimes our plans change and as long as we still have accomplished our goal, we have succeeded. My naturopath and husband have also reminded me to not think of anything I am doing as a life sentence. Instead think of what it is doing for me right now to live the life I want to lead. Even though the rheumatologists say these drugs are a life long deal, I will make my own deals and decisions in the future based on what is happening with me.

I value the opinion of my naturopath highly. She will support me in whatever decision I make, but for now recommends I start on the DMARD with the intention that we are going to keep working alternatively to keep the dose low. Even with the prednisone I have a lot of inflammation that needs to be dealt with and my RA factor came back highly elevated. What I most like about my naturopath over any other alternative practitioner I have seen is that she genuinely cares about my family and me and looks at every side of the situation. She isn't afraid to suggest things outside her field, even medications, if she feels they are right for the time. She doesn’t make me believe miracles are going to happen, but still I always leave feeling such hope.

Thank you so much to everyone that responded with your words of support. They give me so much strength as I make my decision. I almost said "final decision", but you know what? It isn't. Decisions are never final. I am making a decision that fits with where I am in my life right now.