Thursday, 25 June 2009

Little by little...

I am continuing to feel less morning and late evening stiffness. I certainly think this has a lot to do with removing coffee and wheat (even though gluten-free wheat for me) products from my diet. I strongly suspect that corn is also a problem and will have to see about that during the next stage.

Sometimes I am uncertain as to how much this disease is progressing. If don't feel particular stiffness i suppose it's fair to say that it's quiet but I'm never quite sure as my fingers are not in good shape anyway and even if the disease is quiet they won't function properly anyway, due to damage. Last evening I forgot to take my anti-inflamatory which has to be a good sign.

Now I must wait for my real life to calm down so I can begin the next phase which is fasting and the elimination diet.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Never be a victim

I have had some success having investigated the psycological aspect of arthritis. Firstly I tried some meditation aimed specifically at dealing with pain. This is a skill that takes time but I find it helps to use what I've learned to acknowledge the pain whilst trying to relax the muscles at the same time. I used the Vipassana method as suggested in Barbara Allan's book.

The other phenomenon I have tried to focus upon is that of positive thinking. Not being a doom and gloom type naturally I haven't thought in the past that I needed to do this. But of course when you have chronic conditions to cope with it is inevitable that sometimes life is a struggle and we wouldn't be human if it didn't affect us. So when I find myself navel-gazing about my condition I check myself quickly, pull myself up and tell myself it's getting better - even if there are setbacks - I will get better. As a result I am finding my arms which are affected by lymphoedema (which means my lymph fluid doesn't drain properly - a result of cellulitis triggered by taking etanercept, an immune suppressant for arthritis) is much better. It is certainly responding to my mental attitude.

It is so important for us not to categorise ourselves as victims. That kind of attitude can weigh us down pshycologically and make us feel heavy.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Black clouds

Today was a black cloud day. I went to bed last night feeling very, very sore and stiff. I partly attribute this to eating some gluten-free cake that I think may have used a wheat flour with gluten removed (wheat makes me stiff) and a cranial and general osteopathy session I had on Friday. I know it's a while away but it was a tricky weekend with visitors, some tension etc, and I think I kept the reactions in until yesterday evening.

Today I woke up much physically better (but clumsy) yet emotionally I was a wreck. Everything I could think of was wrong and I felt quite sorry for myself. I cried a bit on and off and was very tired.

I don't know if this is a 'healing crisis', or what. At one point yesterday I even wondered if I was going down with swine flu as it is going around in the Midlands area. Gulp. Can't imagine what immune reaction I'd have to that one.

I'm almost done with the book (Conquering Arthritis) and need to prepare for the fast/reintroduction phase. Of course this has to be planned around life and not done when we have social events I can't get out off. A good friend has offered to do this with me. I wish I had a even better friend to cook for my kids whilst I'm doing it!!

I have also been reading about and practising, mindful meditation. Barbara Allen says it was a big part of her healing process and particularly used the vipasanna method which I tried today with a tape. It is a good way to control pain.

Ah well a good night sleep and no doubt tomorrow will hold a little sunshine.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

A little more about me

Born with ceoliac disease (gluten intolerance) I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis after the birth of my second child, although it actually kicked off after the birth of my first.

It began in my foot, then one day my index finger ballooned like a sausage. I was pushed around a few doctors before I actually did some research, and put the psoriasis (which I hardly have actually) and the arthritis together, told the rheumatologist my thoughts, and bingo.

I was devasted, I remember walking home thinking, I'll be in a wheelchair, I won't be able to care for my children, my husband will have a different wife to the woman he married. Looking back now, I can see how ill I was, tired from having two young children, breastfeeding, living abroad (Montreal, Canada), missing my mum, and dealing with the extreme weather conditions.

Thing progressed quite slowly and I managed. I went on to have a third child and after that (now back in the UK) my doctor really wanted to put me on immune-suppressants. I was very, very, reluctant. I already had coeliac disease (gluten-introlerance) and had a gut feeling this sledge hammer approach might upset my body even more.

Eventually I had to give in, I saw x-rays of my hands, which are the main areas affected, and I knew the damage was already quite extensive. I had to start doing as I was told. I was put on Etanercept and anti-TNF drug administered by self-injection. For a year I felt great, really great. Then one day my arm started to look a bit red and I felt as if I had the flu. I went to bed and woke up a few hours later with a very red arm. My husband took me to the hospital and I was told I had cellulitits. I was kept in hospital and given intravenous antibiotics. This happened three times before I was taken off the Etanercept and then I was left to self diagnose myself with Lymphoedema as my arm didn't return to the same size that it was before.

The only treatment for Lymphoedema is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and compression garments. It makes the arthritis worse because my fingers swell, that makes it harder to move the joints, which makes it harder for the lymph fluid to flow...and so it goes on in a vicious circle.

So for now the doctors have given up on treating me with these immune-suppressant drugs and in some ways it's a relief as I was always suspicious that I would just end up destroying another system in my body.

Now there has to be another way. Actually after 15 years I am now convinced there is. So I'd better get on with it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Library Study

I have been taking the odd hour or two out of my day to escape to the library to study this book properly. It's the only way I get any true peace and can focus without being distracted by jobs at home. I know that if I am going to attempt to really heal myself properly I need a pretty strong, well thought out strategy. I also need to get myself focused for the fasting period. Last time I attempted an elimination diet I was feeling very good (although hungry) when I was on a restricted diet but as soon as I tried to reintroduce foods I was all at sea as to what was causing the problems - I think I react to food quite slowly. Having said that I was pretty sure that coffee and corn (one of Barbara Allen's problem foods) were suspects.

Although I am planning to finish the book and get her recommended reading and tests completed before I embark on any more diets, I have done a couple of things.

  • Started each day with a pro biotic drink.
  • Cut out coffee
  • Cut out prescribed gluten-free food which is corn based or gluten-free wheat based.

Already I feel the benefits of this and am hoping I can reduce my diclofenac (an NSAID) as this is thought to exacerbate the leaky gut syndrome which I am sure I have.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Conquering Arthritis

The inspiration to begin this blog has been from a book written by Barbara Allan entitled "Conquering Arthritis". This book seems to compile many alternative aspects I have read over the years that can help people achieve their goal to heal their arthritis. Some of which I have attempted in the past, but Barbara seems to combine the most (in my view) effective and credible theories and talks of making each healing component work in synergy.

At the heart of the book and treatment, is the foundation of the cure, which is to find out if and what foods may be causing a reaction within the body. I have tried an elimination diet before but had problems when it came to reintroducing foods and identifying the ones which may cause a problem. I lost so much weight that I had to give up.

As Barbara has had arthritis and gone through this herself with similar problems, she has worked out ways of dealing with some of the issues I found difficult. I have e/mailed Barbara who now also helps people who are attempting to cure themselves and she has told me honestly that as far as she knows my particular form of arthritis has only had a 50% success rate with her regime. That, along with my own research over the years and gut feeling, is good enough for me to give it a try.

Because such a diet begins with fasting and needs careful planning, I am first studying the book in depth. I will, in future posts be diarising my journey towards healing hopefully this will encourage me to keep on track and stop my real life from distracting me. Please wish me luck!