Balance: Autoimmune Disorders

 

It was August 2016, I had just returned from an awesome adventure in Gunnison National Park, CO when my world was turned upside down. I began to experience aches and pains quickly dismissed as battle wounds from my recent mountain adventure.

After a couple weeks had passed the pain and swelling spread throughout the left side of my body, traveling from lower back to wrist and foot.  I couldn’t grasp a tea cup, was having trouble opening doors, operating zippers and buttons.  I hadn’t connected the pains I was having at that time nor did I understand what I was up against.

I no longer felt like the same person that I was just a month prior nor was I capabable of putting a brave face to what was happening.  I began to feel scared. Really scared.  And, for the first time in my life I went from playing the role of helping others to the one always seeming to need help. My husband, children and mother turned into caregivers. I felt tremendous guilt over all of the help required by others just to get through a day.  I feared the worst wondering if I would ever be able to function again.

I was misdiagnosed twice before landing in a hospital bed unable to walk.   I underwent every imaginable test and scan.   I was treated by several specialists via a series of the strongest antibiotic cocktails administered intravenously.  I lost hair due to reaction of all of the hard core drugs.  I was laid up missing my kiddos field hockey and baseball games, weddings, girls nights, day hikes…well you get the picture. I missed my mobility, independence and life as I knew it.

While hospitalized with condition now traveling from left to right side of my body, I was introduced to a Rheumatologist who ran additional bloods and quickly connected the physical pain, swelling & presentation to chronic inflammation resulting in diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis.

It took  three months for the prescribed biological to kick in. After six months, and some orthopedic shoes, I started feeling semi normal again.  Eight months later, I became obsessed with reading about Autoimmune Diseases convinced that what was happening to me was a condition that I could conquer.  I hung on to hope that the trigger was bacterial and after a year passed, I could discontinue my dependency on the biological that kept my immune system from attacking my body.

Fast forward to today and no such luck…I still rely upon the biological, but have not given up the fight. I have come a long way.  I can function and my inflammation levels are down. And, while  I accept that I am genetically predisposed (HLA B27),  I continue to research and experiment with my diet being mindful of triggers.

Two years ago, if you asked me what an autominnue disease was…I couldn’t tell you. Instead, I may have simply replied “you are what you eat” not fully realizing the depth of this truth.  At that time in my life I felt fantastic. Never looked better and was loving life having fully committed to a plant based whole food diet. The daily menu read fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes & quinoa ( and plenty of them). I had replaced flour bread with Ezekiel sprouted grain products. I even replaced traditional flour pastas with lentil and chick pea versions. It was all about how much I had gained instead of lost. I was far down a path of wellness, or so I thought.

I was operating under some very basic rules:  if it was plant based, unprocessed and did not contain additives such as oil, sugar, meat, or salt – the more the merrier! I had established some go to favorites not realizing that the combination was a perfect storm for leaky gut and chronic inflammation.

Since then I have limited some foods consumed prior, and in abundance, such as; evening shades, legumes & quinoa that were later proven to aggravate my condition. I have also introduced healthy omegas from sources such a fish, coconut, olive and hemp oils.

And, while I still believe today that “you are what you eat”, I have learned that a diet is not a one size fits all solution. It is instead a personalized and delicate balance.

Listen to your body and find your own balance.

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