Here’s how it all started:
In my early 20’s I lived a very stressed out life, putting myself through Travel and Tourism school, working long hours, studying during work breaks and late nights. Oh, and of course, finding time to hang out with friends. I always look back and wonder how I ever did it. I have to say my motto has always been “You work hard – You play hard”.
Around my mid 20’s I was diagnosed with Lupus. At that time I had no idea what lupus was nor did I know what the symptoms were. After many visits to my Rheumatologist he finally told me it was dormant, he gave me a list of symptoms to watch for and told me if I felt any pain I should go back in to see him. Well, in those younger years I didn’t even think twice about anything, I just continue to live my life as if nothing was wrong. Even though I was always experiencing pain, I thought it was from those long hard workout sessions during my body building and aerobics days so I just wrote it off as that.
Throughout my life I have had bursitis in my hip, tendinitis on both hands, tennis elbow in my arms, muscle & joint pain all over my body, sometimes laying me up in bed for days. I battled with ulcers and digestive problems along with many other issues. Still not realizing it could have been from my Lupus, I would go in for a regular doctor visit and of course, back in those days they prescribed me a 20 oz bottle full of 800 mg pills of Ibuprofen. Good thing I forget to take it, I would hate to see what my insides looked like if I did take the whole bottle.
I have always been a very active person, playing sports, biking, kickboxing, swimming, rollerblading, you name it, I did it. With the pain I would experience on and off , I never put two and two together thinking some of this or all was part of my autoimmune diseases. I just dealt with it.
Finally a few years ago after a stressful couple months of retiling our floors, my charity drive, running my design business, my husbands 2 businesses along with many mommy duties, I came down with a real bad case of the flu. I felt that the stress of it all triggered my Lupus. However, a few years prior I had been feeling run down, fatigue, lack of energy, no motivation, my mind was foggy (felt like I wasn’t even there half the time- everything seemed hazy), and I just struggled to get through the day. I even had this unexplained weight gain that was piling on, yet I wasn’t even eating much. As hard as it was, I would just put on a happy face and did the things I needed to do to keep going without letting my family know the struggles I was dealing with. I didn’t want my boys to worry about me as they had their school activities they were excited about. As things got worse I decided to go see my doctor to find out what was going on internally. At first I was told I might be depressed, I had to laugh as the only thing depressing me was not feeling well. Of course, the first thing my doctor mentioned was putting me on a low dose of depression pills. What ? I declined. I have never been a medicine gal. In the past, any medicine I was given, always seemed to make me sick so I would just take a few then toss them out and dealt with my issues the best I could. My doctor went ahead and ordered some blood work which again my ANA came back as positive for Lupus so she referred me to a Rheumatologist. I decided at that time to goggle Lupus and find out more about it. As I read the symptoms I started to realize that a lot of the pains I was experiencing way back in my younger years were part of this autoimmune disease. The more I read, the more scared I got and realized how serious this really was. I just couldn’t believe the many people affected by autoimmune diseases both young and old.
I remember clearly the day I got my first flare up that I was aware of. I had helped my husband that morning set up for his show and then went out to eat dinner. I am a big tomato fan so I ate everyone’s tomato plus my fried clams and fries. Healthy right? Not. By the time I got home I felt a throbbing on the top of my hand and I actually thought I had hurt my hand early in the day. As the night progressed the throbbing started to intensify to the point where I couldn’t even sleep well because of the excruciating pain. The next morning I notice the pain had shifted to my wrist and by the third day up my arm. By day 4 it was completely gone. I found it odd that it shifted from one place to the other so quickly. As time went on I would again get another flare up in my ankle, then shifting to my leg. It always seemed to be a 3-4 day process before the pain subsided. While still waiting to get into an appointment with my Rheumatologist, I again started experiencing some excruciating aches and pains in my joints to the point of having to be admitted into the hospital. I was afraid I might have been having a heart attack because of a pain that shot through my arms, neck and shoulders. While I lay in my hospital bed I could see the heart monitor jump every time I lifted my arm. My husband didn’t realize how bad the pain was until he seen that heart monitor jump every time I moved. After all the testing was completed, I was told my heart was extremely healthy however; my ANA again came back as positive for Lupus. I left the hospital being given and prescribed 5 different pills that made me dizzy to the point of wanting to pass out. I felt so sick to my stomach and the next day I couldn’t even function. I had a hard time getting out of bed each day.
Once I finally got in to visit my Rheumatologist and had more extensive blood work done, I found out that not only did I have Lupus, but I also had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Talk about a double whammy. Wow! I just didn’t know what to think. Again, I was being prescribed dangerous medication that would eventually affect my eyes and deteriorate my body. All I kept thinking is, “I just cannot take these pills and be able to function day after day.”
Every time I experienced a flare up it would knock me down for days sometimes weeks. As I lay in bed with pain in my body, I could see my life flash by me. I would think about how strong, healthy, and very energetic I once was. I was like an energizer bunny that just wouldn’t stop. I shed lots of tears and knew I could not go on like this. After a phone call from a friend asking where I had been and breaking down crying, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. Out of fear of getting sicker and a desperation to feel well again, I decided to take the initiative to get my butt out of bed, grab my laptop and start researching natural remedies and learn more about these autoimmune diseases.
I read many books, articles and studies on what might be causing these diseases. I have never been a big reader, but I was desperate. After all my research I realized that the foods we are eating were big contributors to inflammation in our bodies. I was just shocked and amazed on how many toxic foods we eat daily, all the toxic chemicals in our lotions, deodorants, shampoo that are making us sick. Oh my goodness the list goes on. I thought wow – Now what do I do ?
At this point I knew I had to take action and take control of my own health. I had to heal my body naturally and stop taking toxic medication that eventually would deteriorate my body and possibly kill me. It was a huge challenge for me and when you are not feeling well, you just have no motivation, will power or energy to try however, I knew I could not give up. My reason for living was my family and I knew my purpose in this life was not completed. This became my mission and nothing was more important to me then my health, because without my health I could not take care of my family.
It scared me so much that I actually went cold turkey for 2 weeks and ate nothing but fresh fruits and veggies. I had no clue what to eat and was just afraid of eating anything. However, I knew eventually I had to eat something to fuel my body for energy. Within that time I noticed I felt a little different and not as sluggish as I was. This encouraged me to start rethinking the foods I eat and what I was putting in and on my body.
It wasn’t an easy task, but I knew I had to not only do this for me, but also my family. I wanted to see my kids graduate, I wanted to see them get married, I wanted to enjoy my grand babies (when the time comes). This was my motivation to get well. This became my life and my passion. Nothing else mattered to me at this point. I knew I had to get better and quickly. I just put everything aside that was causing me so much stress and focused on getting well again.
I made extreme changes in my diet. I kept a journal and wrote down everything I was eating, I mean everything, including every ingredient I cooked with, drinks, snack, condiments, anything that went in and on my body such as lotions, shampoos, I wrote down everything. I really started paying close attention to my bodies reaction as I ate something to see what was causing inflammation in my body and what could be triggering my flare ups. Yes, I will say it was so overwhelming. I would go to the health food store and walk every aisle thinking what the heck do I eat. I would have long conversations with store clerks on eating healthy and gluten free. I tried every dietary supplement suggested, my counter was full of many brands which many didn’t helped me, but I kept trying until I came across the right ones that has made a difference in my health. It was a big lifestyle change for me. At times I would even freak out when my kids would bring home unhealthy foods.
To this day I am thankful I made the right choices. Healthy eating, taking the right supplement, using essential oils as an alternative to medicine, and exercising have all become a big part of our household. We love living a clean healthier life.
My inflammation has tremendously been reduced, rarely do I get achy joints and muscles, I have more energy, more mental clarity, and my allergies have subsided as well as headaches and other overall health issues. I am stronger and feel my life has been renewed.
I know there are many of you going through what I have been through. And if you have read this to the end, then I am sure you too have or are experiencing the same things I have.
I want you to know that you are not alone and I am here to help you make that first step in taking control of your health. The first thing you need to do is stop thinking negatively. Change the way you think and the way you talk to yourself. Negative thoughts causes the brain to get toxic which will cause you to get sicker. God gave us a gift to make choices in our lives, so please start making the right ones.
Find a reason to want to live, find your purpose in life because you are worth it.