So it has finally happened! A disease! Something I’ve always never wanted to have, but knew I’d eventually acquire!! I’m so excited.
I’m not sure which way I want to go with this conversation. Uplifting and inspirational? Angry and more angry? Informative, truthful, and only slightly crazy? The latter might be the best bet…but I have a tendency to be all of the above.
You know, it really does all go downhill after 30. Things start hurting, recovery takes so much longer, and your body suddenly has a reason to punish you for years of bad habits that you actually thought were good habits. And the actual bad habits, too.
I’m hoping you have a basic understanding of the human body, because I’m not going to delve too deeply into the science behind this. Not because I don’t necessarily understand it, but mainly due to the fact that I cannot form organized thoughts to save my life (hence the stream of consciousness you are reading (thank you)).
Very recently I was “diagnosed” with a non specific autoimmune disease that is MOST similar (at this point in time) to Lupus, without actually being Lupus. From my understanding, this means it hasn’t differentiated (progressed, become, or finished writing the agenda for the cells it has enslaved) into the disease I’m going to have forever and ever. Once acquired, autoimmune diseases are with you. There is no curing, only mitigating the symptoms or even, from what my research says, reversing the symptoms through lifestyle and diet changes (which I will discuss later).
There are so many autoimmune diseases and so little time. I will refer to my friend as Not Lupus. Not Lupus chose to make itself known in the form of debilitating joint pain. I thought I was dying, I really did. I couldn’t move, getting out of a seated position, hell, getting INTO a seated position was a HUGE undertaking and extremely painful. All my joints were affected. Every single one. Hot, painful, and/or sometimes really swollen joints.
As an ultrasound tech, joints are necessary. I don’t think it’s specifically listed in my job requirements, but it’s definitely assumed. I was crying daily, both in pain and frustration. I am an extremely independent person and asking for help is not my forte, so asking coworkers to squeeze ultrasound gel bottles…yeah. “Will you please squeeze this bottle for me?” Yes, it’s as pathetic as it sounds. My grip was useless, I did my best, but between the slippery gel and my pain level, I would lose hold of the ultrasound probe repeatedly. I thought, “Holy crap, I’m going to have to quit my job.” I did have to take multiple days off. At one point I had a trigger finger on my right hand, meaning I couldn’t unbend it without screaming in agony, so naturally, I stopped trying to unbend it. My hand was useless, and it took days for that finger to get back to normal. My husband had to help me move, dress me, and help me shower. I’m too young for this shit. I’m too young for this…right?
That was my worst.
I was finally able to see a specialist, a rheumatologist. He ran more tests and prescribed me prednisone (steroid) which is used to suppress immune response and thus inflammation triggered by the immune system. Holy mother of whatever holy thing, I felt like a super hero after my first dose. It was insane how great I felt. I could move again! It was a miracle to me at the time. The problem is that the euphoric feeling faded and was replaced by hunger, depression, insomnia, restless legs, brain fog, and probably more that I haven’t even realized. I absolutely do not want to STAY on steroids or have to repeat a course of them every time this disease decides to flare up.
I am also being treated with another drug called Plaquenil, it is routinely used to treat autoimmune joint problems. I am not a fan of pharmaceuticals to begin with, so being tied to this pill long-term is something I am not looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong, I will take it. I am taking it because I need to be able to work and, you know, move, BUT I don’t want to blindly take it without evaluating all my options. That’s where the diet and lifestyle changes come in. I briefly mentioned in another post that I have been following a grain-free diet for the better part of two years. I noticed vast improvements in my health since doing so, and also notice the steep decline when I slip up. Now, it seems, I need to take it a step further and really commit to healing my gut, healing my body so I can HOPEFULLY send this Not Lupus packing and not experience anymore flares, anymore chronic inflammation, anymore pain.
The paleo diet has become pretty popular and with good reason. I used to roll my eyes and think it was another passing fad, but seriously, there is REAL science behind this lifestyle. Unfortunately, with the addition of my friend, Not Lupus, I have to work towards an even stricter version of the paleo diet called AIP, or autoimmune protocol. Well, I don’t HAVE to, but I am choosing to because my body is the only body I have. It only took me 30+ years to realize it.
In case you or someone you know is in a similar boat with one of the MANY autoimmune diseases out there, I will try to document my trials and successes. Maybe you can join me, and we can support each other. We all know it’s not going to be easy, but maybe it’ll be totally worth it.