My Story: Health Inflammation & Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

I find myself talking about my health a lot with people especially with the way life is going towards the healthy, green, natural lifestyle most are choosing to explore. I choose a new route and treatment for myself a few years ago and I love what has come from it!

Here is my story: I was in 6th grade, I was biking like we did every Saturday, I had taken a corner a little faster than I should have and I went skidding out of control; hit my knee on the cement, of course at the time it was the most painful thing, little did I know this fall would change everything for me. After my fall I went to the doctor because my knee still hurt after the sweet “T” shaped cut turned to a scar. At first it was expected that from the compact hit on my knee there would be residual pain, then when it was continuing to still hurt they ran some testing and decided I had Osgood Schlatters disease, it is very common cause of pain in children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old because of the quickness of growth and at the time it seemed everyone was being diagnosed with this disease.  I took my naproxen  and went about my business.  Until one day  I started really getting into sign language and my hands were so swollen they were like large sausages.  My mother, bless her heart chalked the swelling and pain to being just “that special time in a girls life, and that can cause swelling.”  This all  was occurring about the same time my mom was getting testing done and was diagnosed with a “unspecified autoimmune disease”.   It was my grandma that urged my mother to get me tested for any autoimmune disease.  At the age of 12 I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis(JRA), my numbers were so high  that it became a urgent thing to get to a specialist as soon as possible.  I was lucky enough to get in within a month of my diagnosis and was able to see the amazing Dr. Carol Wallace at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.  It was then found I had the arthritis in every one of my joints  including my eyes, my sed-rate was something to be concerned about, unlike most, JRA  can cause a crippling affect.  The doctors wanted to aggressively treat my disease,  I was put on so many medications,  some to help treat the JRA, and some to help the side effects of those medications and so on and so on. Methotraxate, prednisone, Enbrel, Humira, Celebrex, Naproxen..etc…etc   My JRA was being controlled to the best of the doctors ability, but because I was young I would go through a roller coaster of daily pain in the morning or days where everything would hurt, there were even days I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I had to quit my sport of basketball, my body just couldn’t do it. I was in  all the time pain there was never a good day. This cycle would continue until I was about 20, in the 8 years I will have undergone many treatment plans,  because some medications would stop working and need to be changed out.  When I took prednisone at the age of 12 and a very low dose, I learned how aggressive my medications were, I had a prednisone-psychosis.  The psychosis is what taught my doctors I was going to be a different case because I was on such a low dose that  they didn’t even tell us a chance of any reaction like i had.

My psychosis is something hard to talk about sometimes because it still makes me feel crazy, and those who know me, know the actions were completely out of character.  To make the story a little shorter the story of it was that I carved “life sucks”  into my arm with a butcher knife, the psychosis part is that I don’t remember doing it. I remember cleaning up my cut and thinking I was nuts! I didn’t tell my parents, the only reason my mother found out was that she was rubbing my arm and felt the band-aid and from there she saw it, I cried, she cried., my dad was confused.  Being the mother that my mom is she went online and started to doing some research  and the next day we were visiting with the doctors.

Luckily aside from the lesson there were no permanent impact from this medicine induced psychosis. I did however get sent to a psychologist because they thought my out cry was because I was having a hard time dealing with my disease. My  treatment, struggle and pain continued until I graduated college. I didn’t want to mess with anything that could make college any harder than it needed to be. But once I graduated I wanted a change.

In 2010 I did an elimination diet to see what foods were my trigger foods were.  To find more info  on elimination diet.  I did the kind where I would eat very plain healthy foods and then slowly bring back “normal” day to day foods.  I found my main triggers were red meat, eggplant, and some alcohol. when I say trigger I mean that if I eat them I can feel it the next day. This is what started my journey of finding better ways to maintain my arthritis.  I started seeing an acupuncturist & naturopath.  I started off by finding substitutes for my medications I was on for vitamins or supplements.  I switched my celebrex for bosweilla.  I started taking and using arnica both in gel and capsules.  With acupuncture  and switching medications.  I stopped taking my medications but never really told my rheumatologist until about 3 years later. The day I was able to tell my doctor I stopped the medications was the best day ever!!

I went in  for my 6month check-up and my doctor was reviewing lab work, he then said well everything is looking good, we can start talking about taking you off some of your medications. I looked at him and told him I don’t take any of the medications anymore. He then asked which ones did I stop and for how long. I told him all of them about 2.5 years ago.  He was frantically looking through all of my blood work, he then pauses and says ” I don’t know how to tell you this, but your blood work as gotten better in that time”.  He couldn’t rule me as in remission because I still had the rheumatoid factor, but everything else looked amazing. I’ll take it!

Many people go to a natural route and expect it to be handed to you, but really  I found that I had the best results from looking into things my self and asking the expert if it was a good choice for me.  It not only helped me but educated me on why products were the better choice. Not everyone has the success that I have had with my health, but it certainly can’t hurt to explore the other options.  Don’t settle for just one route, there is always a other way to try.

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