I thought I knew what pain was. Then in the Spring of 2012, rheumatoid arthritis rocked my world, and I experienced pain so intense, I think it deserves its own word. I went from being a healthy, physically active 43 year-old, to feeling like I was 90 years old overnight. Everything became challenging because everything hurt. I limped when I walked. I couldn’t raise my arms over my head. My hands were so weak, I couldn’t even wash dishes, let alone open a jar. I feared meeting new people, because someone shaking my hand could make me wince. Hugs designed to offer comfort, hurt instead. Sleeping was almost impossible, because lying down automatically puts pressure on the joints. And that was just the everyday pain. At night, the flares would hit. Each night, one joint in my body would become so inflamed, that I couldn’t move it without gasping in pain, and it was a different joint every night. Monday, my shoulder would be put in a sling, Tuesday, my wrist in a brace, Wednesday, my ankle wouldn’t support my weight, Thursday, my jaw would freeze making it impossible to eat, and so on. To say it was terrifying is an understatement. Yet the medication prescribed for autoimmune disease scared me even more, so I sought alternatives.
Thanks to paleo, my life is 100% different today. I’m 95% pain-free. I don’t flare at all anymore. I no longer feel old. Someone can bear hug me, and it feels good. I can work, I can travel, I can hike, I can enjoy my life, and every month, I get a little bit stronger, and regain another ability I had lost. I’ve achieved all of this without any immunosuppressant or steroid medication.
Robb, I couldn’t have done this without you, because I needed the autoimmune protocol to get to this level of success. I started with primal in the Summer of 2012, and it did help. My flares slowly started to decrease in number and intensity. Over 5 months’ time, my daily pain went from excruciating to moderate, and this was such an improvement, I was filled with gratitude. I was still limited in my abilities, but I was no longer being tortured every day. January 2013, I decided to take it to the next level and do the autoimmune protocol (AIP). I don’t regret waiting; it was too intimidating to go from a SAD diet directly to the AIP. Paleo alone was a learning curve, and a good transition step. But it was the AIP that taught me that I have a severe nightshade and dairy intolerance, and moderate nut intolerance. Removing those from my diet made the flares go away altogether, and the pain drop to a level I wouldn’t even call pain any more.
I’m not cured. I can still feel RA in my body, but thankfully at a very low level. I hope someday to feel it go into full remission. I really do believe in the power of epigenetics to turn our genes on and off. If my RA gene is like one of those dimmer dials on lights, it was up full blast when it first hit my body, and it’s now down to the soft glow of a night light. Someday, I hope to feel that click where it turns off altogether.
If you have RA, or any autoimmune disease, I can’t recommend the autoimmune protocol highly enough. It takes time to work. Some people expect healing to happen overnight, because it feels like illness happens that fast. But the truth is, autoimmune disease develops in our bodies for years before we feel it, and reversing that process takes time. I saw progress month to month, not day to day, but look at how far I’ve come! Be patient and persistent, and you’ll get there, too.
I have a blog dedicated to healing autoimmune disease through diet and lifestyle, and I host a weekly event where bloggers share AIP-Friendly recipes. There are a lot of us out there, now walking this path, and we’re here to help: http://www.phoenixhelix.com
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