I know what you all are thinking “has she lost her mind?” And as much as I wish to, I can’t answer this question. Maybe I am more in a state of confusion, combined with an overload on information -a few things made my head spin and I am trying to find some answers. But let me go back and explain first, please!
I smoked for so long that I expected some “things” to happen when I finally stopped.
My smokers cough disappeared after a few days and I could sleep through the night almost immediately. Coughing “stuff” up seems to be normal in the early stage of becoming a non-smoker, it’s not pleasant, but part of a normal healing process. I must have collected lots of “stuff” in 35 years; it kept me busy for a while.
My nose was stuffed all the time and I felt like I has some sinus pressure. I should have gone to the doctor right then, but I didn’t. I wrongfully assumed that everything was just happening, because I just quit smoking…and boy was I wrong. I had a sinus infection and left it untreated for about 3 months. I suffered from day to day and felt more and more miserable. A scan showed a deeply embedded sinus infection and I am on antibiotics for over 4 weeks now and it is slowly going away.
A while ago I noticed that my joints were hurting and some of my fingers were swollen. “Don’t pull so hard on those weeds” that’s what I was thinking. Slowly but steady it got worse. My wrist and my elbows started to hurt and felt like they were swollen or inflamed; same happened to my ankles and knees shortly after that. About 2 weeks ago it started to keep me awake in the night, or the pain woke me up when I was sleeping. Something was wrong and progressing…even I could see that.
I became more and more frustrated and finally made another doctor’s appointment. “I quit smoking; I am supposed to feel good and not miserable”. So WTH was going on? I have always been healthy, nothing more than a flue now and then; I was ready to find some relieve and get some answers. I got a prescription for steroids and I took them, even though I wasn’t happy with it, but I think the pain was bad enough and I didn’t want to question it (for the moment). The pain was bearable after just 48 hrs on steroids, but it felt like doping -if that makes any sense.
Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus was mentioned and had to be ruled out (Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, strikes when the body’s immune system goes awry and attacks healthy joints). They took a gallon of blood (so it seemed) and the results came back today. I have an inflammation and it could be RA, although all the other levels are elevated. The tests are not conclusive, more tests have to be done, but everything points (at the moment) toward RA. “You need to go to an RA specialist, I write you a referral”.
Hmmmmmmmm? I expected something like that (I am not a total dummy and can add 2+2 together) and I started to do my own research a few days back.
The first question that came to my mind “is everything really just a coincidence?” The sinus infection, the inflammation of the joints could it be connected or am I just lucky and get two different diseases at the same time? Was my immune system busy fighting Nicotine and other stuff for so long, that there was no time left for attacking my joints? Did my smoking habit mask a disease? Is the Sinus infection the cause for the Inflammation?
I researched RA here in USA and in other countries like Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the UK and what I read made my head spin.
Rheumatoid arthritis: There is some research, but no cure –yet. Medications are available, but most of them have a list of side effects longer than my arm. Some people are on steroids, others try other stuff. Patients learn to live and cope with the pain and with the flares and “try” to live a normal life as much as possible, but they are not healed.
There is an indication that a healthy, well balanced diet can stop the flares for good. The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t like that statement –of course. Some of the RA patients with lots of discipline don’t take any medication at all, they just control the disease with what they eat and are successful since years (interesting!).
I read more articles and more questions came up.
- There is obviously a connection between RA and smoking. Long time smokers will more likely develop RA (check).
- RA is more common in women (check).
- Some people who just quit smoking noticed the highest inflammations (check + dangit).
- People over 50 are more likely to develop RA (check).
- The relationship between menopause and RA remains mysterious, as rheumatologists still aren’t quite sure how changes in levels of estrogen and other key hormones might influence risk for painful joints and other symptoms. Battling Menopause (check).
- Some long time smokers had joint swelling and pain after they quit smoking, the symptoms disappeared when they started to smoke again (check and a big ????)
- Smoking does influence the immune system, in part by effects on sex hormones. It is unclear, though, whether smoking would be expected to increase or decrease joint inflammation. (hmmmmm now what?)
My humbled opinion is: There is a lot of stuff “they” don’t know! I will be more likely put on medication and my instinct tells me to try a few things on my own, before I let that happen.
By now you probably understand why I wrote “should I smoke or not”.
A while back on www.quittrain.com there was a guy who stated in a post that he would never ever go back to smoking again…under no circumstances. He humored me a little bit. First of all, smoking it’s an addiction and no addict can ever be safe. Secondly, with all due respect, of course I would smoke, IF that would solve world-hunger and bring world peace or, IF it would keep my husband and the people I love safe and healthy.
Would I smoke if it would help me? (hmmmmmmmmm)
I consider myself blessed, a lot of people have to fight more difficult battles. They have to fight windmills and some of them fight against all odds. There are some crucial diseases out there, so I am lucky I only have to fight RA or something similar to it!
My husband and I talked after I got the results and he looked scared and worried. We talked about it and I shared my research with him (I didn’t want to worry him before today). I said “if that means I have to smoke I will” and I shook my head in disbelieve. He just looked at me “you don’t want to smoke anymore” and he is right, I don’t want to smoke anymore! But I would (last option) rather smoke, than swallowing heavy medications on a daily base or live with constant pain. BUT…before I even consider smoking a cigarette, there is plan A in place (smoking is plan B and steroids and other medications are plan C).
After all my research, this is Plan A:
I am full with steroids and any blood work right now wouldn’t be accurate! That give me the time for some experiments. I will start a 7-day fasting program tomorrow in the morning. Something like a cleansing diet with lots of water and lots of juices and only brown rice and vegetable broth for meals.
-After that for 1 months:
- No dairy products AT ALL (bummer, I love cheese, milk, yogurt… BUT I don’t like pain and inflamed joints. Alright then “bye bye cheese”.)
- No sweets and no sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- No baking products, no white flour.
- No meat and no meat products.
- Lots of fish -but no tuna.
- No eggs (that’s as bad as not eating cheese).
- No alcohol (fine, I haven’t had a drink in 2 months anyway).
- Lots of fruits, nuts and vegetables.
- Fish oil, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Vitamin B12 supplements.
- 10 cups of waters a day, limited amount of coffee.
- Lots of exercise.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and a healthy diet are connected, that is more than obvious -even though it won’t be officially confirmed. Somehow smoking and RA are connected, that is obvious as well.
I hope plan B will never take place. I love being a non-smoker, I took this journey with so much joy, but I am not a Saint. If that all doesn’t work, then I will smoke for at least for 4 weeks to find out it smoking and RA is connected in my case.
Now you can tar and feather me!
Actually, at this point I would appreciate any input, but please keep in mind that I am not writing this, because I want to find a loophole or an excuse for smoking; I am writing this, because I don’t want to take heavy medications if I can prevent it.