Friday, February 26, 2010

Hanging On to My Vision

In 2004 when I agreed to go on medications for rheumatoid arthritis it felt wrong to me, but also felt like where I needed to be at that time. In the back of my mind I told myself this would not be a lifelong pattern for me. I knew someday I would be off medications and working towards healing in a way that fits who I am. In February of 2008 I took the leap and went off medications. As I battled the temper tantrum my body gave to not having the meds, I held a vision of healing in my mind day after day knowing that when the time was right, my body would have what it needs to be strong and healthy again.

My vision of natural healing has been challenged many times over the two years that I have been medication free, but I have never once seriously considered going back on meds. I just knew my body needed more than what I was giving it and with time it would come. This last flare though really challenged my vision. It didn't take it away, but it strongly challenged it. During this flare my mind continued to remember my body will heal (thanks to everyone that kept reminding me), but the strength to fight just wasn't there.

I decided that I needed help. My plan was this: First I would call my rheumatologist and ask for a round of prednsione to get me through this flare. (This was a really hard decision for me to make.) Second, I would visit my naturopath and get a new plan of action going to speed up the healing process. Well, both plans failed. I have not used our insurance in a long time and had complications with that which prevented me from seeing the rheumatologist and then I wasn't able to get in to see my naturopath. Do you ever feel like the universe is working to lead you in the direction that your heart knows is best?

As this month long temper tantrum my body has been throwing is starting to calm down, I am glad there were complications with insurance and I wasn't able to get the prednsione and I am glad my naturopath couldn't see me and I was forced to look for alternatives. My husband keeps reminding me that we haven't exhausted all of our options and we will keep looking until we find what works. The complications in my plans helped push me to look at other options.

What I decided to do was visit the National University of Health Sciences clinic near my house. There I have access to naturopaths, chiropractors, massage therapy, acupuncture, lab work, Chinese Medicine, and much more at a reduced rate! My first two visits were a little frustrating, but in the end I was glad I stayed and shared my frustrations and needs with them rather than just leaving because today I sat down with my new naturopath and discussed my new plan of action. I like the plan and feel very optimistic about it. In fact, after my appointment I feel optimistic about everything!!!

Rheumatoid arthritis has really asked a lot of me in the last six years. It has asked me to dig deep to figure out who I really am as an individual , it has challenged me on how much physical pain I can handle, and it has repeatedly tested to see if I will stay true to my vision of natural healing. I feel almost giddy with excitement today knowing that I am successfully making it through each of the requests RA has placed on me. I am looking forward to following a plan that is working towards my goals of natural healing. I am glad to see that the direction I originally felt I needed to go when I started the Body Ecology Diet is the direction that my health professionals also find important. I am glad that I am following a plan that just feels right to me and honors who I am. I am glad that I have a vision of my body healing because that is exactly what it is going to do!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Hold

Life as I like to live it has been put on hold for the last month. Although rheumatoid arthritis has been a part of my life for the last six years, this time around it has shown its mighty strength in a new way. I have attempted to throw my own strength back, but this time around RA has been stronger than me and has left me feeling physically and emotionally depleted. I have had to rethink everything I am doing and I hope to share that with you in the next day or so. Fortunately, the last few days have been better for me, but I just need a little more time for my feelings to be worked out before I can share.

Thanks so much to everyone that has checked in on me or sent a healing thought my way. It is nice to know I am missed and cared for by so many.

Monday, February 8, 2010


"You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices." -- Deepak Chopra

I hit a low this weekend emotionally. My shoulders were stiff and weak, my knuckles were swollen, my feet and knee hurt and I felt emotionally and physically defeated. I asked myself, "How is it that I have put so much time and effort into healing, only to feel like I had been run over by a truck?" I cried a lot. I wanted to throw in the towel and accept that I had lost. Fortunately for me, I have friends and family that kept sending encouraging words and even more importantly for me, I have a daughter that reads me and knows just when I need my spirits lifted. Sophia somehow knew that I was ready to give up, that I had made the choice to call it quits. She knows me so well and at eleven years old, she understands a lot.

Sophia came to me Saturday night and asked me if I had given up. I tried to lie to her, but she knew. She reminded me of the good day I had last week. She reminded me of other days that were good. She reminded me how last week I got up easily from my bed. She remembers those little successes. She reminded me of the good feelings she is experiencing with diet changes. She held me and let me cry.

We all have choices. We can choose to let life and the disappointments it has in store for us take control over our mind and soul as I did that evening when I told myself that I had experienced enough and was beaten, or we can choose to take that control back and keep fighting. When you have a little girl that is backing you 100% on your journey towards health, it is pretty difficult to not make the choice to fight.

On Sunday Sophia watched me closer, I could see it. She wanted to make sure I was coming back from the dark side. She spent extra time with me, she made me laugh, she hugged me a lot and hopefully she saw my spirits returning. Hopefully she saw me making the choice to keep going, to keep working towards a body that is healthy in every way, because that is the choice I am making.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Surrounded by Love

Wednesday morning I woke up at 4am to a body that was inflamed from top to bottom and a mind that was instantly at odds with itself. Since I couldn't sleep and was uncomfortable in bed anyhow, I got out of bed and began writing. Writing helps release the tears, something I desperately needed to do. I wrote on my blog and then I wrote several emails to close friends and family asking for their healing thoughts and prayers. I felt a little silly asking for this, but as I published my blog post and sent my emails, I felt this instant weight being lifted from me. Within the hour I started receiving comments on my blog and emails in my inbox reminding me of the tremendous support that surrounds me. I felt wrapped in love, something that I needed that day. I received emails throughout the day with kind words of support, a quote, a picture, and a cartoon. These emails strengthened my mind and expanded my heart.

By simply asking for others to think of me, I removed the responsibility of taking on this pain and uncertainty alone. I felt comforted throughout the day knowing that one person was thinking about me each time she looked at the date on her chalkboard, that another friend added me to the well board at her church, that one of my sisters considered me her "hero" while another sister was thinking of my "beautiful smile", that my friends and family were sending me cyber hugs along with healing thoughts and prayers, and that my RA friends were encouraging me and understanding that with physical pain also comes a lot of emotional upset. Who knew asking for help could be so empowering? It doesn't mean I am weak. It means some days are difficult. It also means my friends and family want to be there to support me, but they can't do that if I don't share that I need the help. Since this was my first real attempt at asking a large number of people to send healing thoughts and prayers, I was surprised that many people even shared their appreciation in me asking for help. Pretty cool, huh?

Thank you so much for all your support the last few days. Yesterday morning I woke up feeling physically worse and again my mind started its debate. The difference yesterday was that I could remind myself of all the love that surrounds me. I could imagine all those cyber hugs wrapping around me and keeping me safe. Plus, I had suggestions from my med free RA/chronic fatigue friends to guide my mind yesterday on changes I need to make on this healing journey. I managed to make it to work and as the day went on I felt some relief. I listened to the advice that Robin left in her comment, "Go work on other areas of your, spirituality, creativity, finance, etc. And let the energy you create pull you out of this flare! " While at work I poured myself into my students and honestly had one of the most productive, enjoyable days of teaching.

I know that although my mind may feel lost in what steps to take next, I am never alone. Like my sister Sherry said, "We found you, we love you and we all want to help you through this!" I will remember next time my body is flaring to go back and reread those emails and comments and let the healing feelings soak deep into my joints.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feeling Lost

Last Tuesday I felt wonderful and I was glad I could share it here. I had almost a whole day of feeling free! Unfortunately by that evening things had turned for the worse and have only improved slightly. When I have a day that every joint in my body hurts and my family can barely touch me because it hurts so much, I can handle it. But when that day turns to a week, I find my mind battling itself on what path to take next. I feel lost during these times.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Is Your Gut Making You Sick?

This morning on Facebook, Donna Gates from Body Ecology Diet posted an article titled Is Your Gut Making You Sick? 5 Simple Steps To Gain Energy and Lose Weight. Again this reminded me of how important it is to heal my body as a whole before I can expect the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis to disappear. Here are a few interesting tidbits from the Body Ecology Diet (BED) article:

*Your gut is connected to everything that happens in your body!
*Digestive problems can lead to allergies, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders and cancers.
*Your body and entire immune system are protected from all the nasty chemicals and toxins we ingest by a super-thin lining in your gut. If that barrier is damaged, your immune system can flare up and cause inflammation.
*The bad bacteria in your gut thrive off of sugar. So take away its food source by removing sugars from you diet.
*Undetected gluten intolerance puts you at risk.

One of my strengths in fighting rheumatoid arthritis has always been my ability to listen to my body. When I am experiencing a flare up, I look at what is happening with my diet, stress levels, schedule, and other life happenings to see if there is a pattern. Since reading about BED and following their philosophy for eating, I have become even better at listening to my body. I have found that on days I feel pretty good that my digestion, mood and complexion are also good. On the days my joints don't feel well, my digestion, mood, and complexion are also off. Isn't that an interesting connection? I am looking forward to finding more connections and understanding how those connections relate to my RA.

Following a diet outside of mainstream America is not easy. There is gluten in a high percentage of the foods prepared for us and when you are trying to repair your gut, even a small amount can reverse the healing your gut has made which makes many people who have tried gluten free diets think they don't work. It takes sticking to it strictly for a lengthy amount of time. Removing sugar is near to impossible if you don't make your own food. Once you start looking at labels you realize sugar has been added to almost everything which is scary when you consider the havoc it plays on our bodies.

When I follow a diet that I believe we were really meant to follow, my brain feels clear, my energy improves, my digestion improves, my skin looks awesome and I have more days that my joints feel good. In fact, I was talking to Steve the other night about a few bad days I had last week and over the weekend and he shared how he sees the situation. He said he feels like on an everyday basis I am improving. (My family always says I am happier when I feel better so that is a good sign.) He also said that even though the bad days are awful, how extreme they get has changed for the better. Except for one evening last week that was truly awful and scared the pants off me, I have to agree with him. It was good to hear his perspective. I need to be reminded sometimes of the improvement that I am making. Oh, another good thing - even when my knee was at its worse last week, the swelling has never returned to where it was before starting the diet. Yippee!!!

For now, I know that I still have lots of work ahead of me. But, with each day of the diet, it feels more like me which means it will be easier to maintain long term. I like feeling like I am working to control what happens to my body. When rheumatoid arthritis already has so much control over me, this is a good feeling.