I wanted to write about this since a while, but I never really found the right words, so I kicked the can down the road. This week I heard the sad news about Glenn Frey’s death and that gave me the motivation I needed to write about it. I didn’t even know that Glenn, a founding member of the Eagles, was sick and tortured by the same evil disease.
Glen Frey passed away January 18th, 2016.
“Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia,”
That was the statement on his webpage and it took my breath away and an icy chill went down my spine; I sat there quietly for some time, thinking this could be me. Who would have thought that I have something in common with one of my favorite musicians.
I didn’t study medicine; I am not a doctor, just a patient, so everything that I will write here on my blog is my personal experience, my research, my translations and most importantly, all of it are my studies and my conclusions.
I remember when I got first diagnosed I thought, “What is the big deal? Many older people have arthritis.” I didn’t know better, I didn’t know the difference. Rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis was the same thing, so I though.
The main difference between osteoarthritis (arthritis) and rheumatoid arthritis is the cause behind the joint symptoms. Arthritis is caused by mechanical wear and tear on joints, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the body’s joints. (WebMD)
My immune system is sick since a while. I got diagnosed in May 2014, just a few months after I quit smoking. Quitting smoking might have triggered it, but nobody really knows. THEY don’t have the answers; their guesses are as good as mine.
Something triggered my immune system to attack myself and THEY say it can’t be reversed. I have an autoimmune disorder; I heard the word “disorder” and it made me think that if something is in out of order, you should be able to bring it back in order. “Disorder” that stands for confusion…so what confused my immune system?
In January 2015 –almost a year ago- I walked into the office of a rheumatologist, because I was in severe pain. I couldn’t walk very well; my hands and fingers were swollen and stiff. I couldn’t move my neck, felt exhausted and very tired. I had an ongoing sinus infection since weeks, my chest felt heavy and I had hard time breathing. Even my eyes were hurting, and all I wanted that day was immediate relief.
THEY were very sympathetic. THEY didn’t say “We told you so,” but I could see it in their faces. THEY had told me a few months earlier that I needed to be on medications, because it is an aggressive disease. I went home with a few prescriptions, started to take the steroids and the other medications as THEY wanted me to. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was necessary at the time. 48 hours later I felt so much better and was able to fully function again; I was pain free and felt good.
I am writing this, because I had another doctor’s appointment just recently and I walked in with my head held high and with a smile. I am not taking any medications, beside sometimes a few OTC pain medications when I get a headache or when I am hurting, because I worked too hard.
Today I am to 99% pain free and I move around just fine. I do wear Arthritis gloves when I work, but they are more for precaution and they look super cool. I stopped all the medication, against my doctor’s advice 8 month ago. I stopped them, because the long lists of possible side effects scared me. DMARD’s (disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs) work pretty much like chemo therapy and suppress the immune system, what didn’t make any sense to me. THEY had warned me about possible fatal infections and I thought, “No frickin way!” If you put my immune system down, then there is nothing left in my body that protects me. I didn’t want that and I was willing to try almost everything, to avoid the medication.
I might sound naive, but I picture my immune system like little soldiers and I call them “my watchdogs.” These watchdogs did a very good job for many years, then something happened and they forgot what they needed to do. They are still soldiers, but for whatever reason they decided to attack me, instead of protecting me.
I looked everywhere for answers and alternative treatments. I searched and researched for hours, talked with many people all over the world. I am not the only one who is living comfortably without medication, there are many…even though THEY don’t like it.
THEY (They is the word I use for my doctors and the pharmaceutical industry) don’t like people like me, because we are party poops.
One of the first people I met in the blogging world is the author of “Simply living over 50.”He has to be as stubborn and determined as I am, because he got diagnosed with Type II diabetes and decided to change his life style. He didn’t want to rely on medications either and I always admired him for that.
His journey had some up and downs as well, but he succeeded and the way it looks like…so did I.
A doctor in Asia wrote to me a while back. He said, “We are all different, we have different life styles, different genetics and we all come from a different background, so why are we all taking the same medication?” I thought about it for a very long time and it made sense to me.
What works for me, might not work for the next person and vise versa.
I am not saying that we all should put down our medications -by all means many diseases can be cured with the right treatments and the right medication, I had a few of them myself- I am just saying that there might be alternatives that we should try, if we are willing to make some changes.
I learned a lot during the last year (still do) so I thought I am going to share part of my health journey once a week with my readers. Who knows, maybe some of the things that I learned might help someone else.