A reader of this blog, Kelly, left this comment in response to a recent post: “The symptoms you describe are exactly what I’m experiencing and they got WAY worse after I had my last baby in January. I don’t have insurance, though, and the sliding-scale fee doc that I have tells me she can’t find a cause for my symptoms. [Do] you have any advice on what I can do to get help with these symptoms (even if it is homeopathic)?”
As I started to respond to Kelly’s answer, I realized that there was no way that I would be able to discuss this in one post, so please look for two more posts on natural ways of feeling better to minimize your symptoms. These suggestions are NOT medical advice and should be construed in that manner. There are ideas that I came across in my own research towards furthering my own health. I am responding in a manner that relates to both my conditions, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
If I had only known then what I know now
Two years ago, the pieces of my physical and emotional struggle became clearer when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. I spent ten years trying to figure out why I was sick and trying to prove to everyone in my life, including my medical providers, that what was going on what not just in my head. My diagnosis, while painting a clearer picture, did not provide me with any guidance on how I could feel better.
In the process of trying to make sense of my new diagnoses, I have researched countless internet sources and books on wellness and my conditions. My goal at my next appointment with my rheumatologist is to discuss stopping my fibromyalgia medication and working to reduce my rheumatoid arthritis medications. I am not sure how I will make this happen, but I have made a promise to myself that it will because I refuse to let my body be consumed by medications if they are unnecessary. I know through my own research that with fibromyalgia, it is very possible. With RA, a reduction in medication will be the next thing on my list after removal of my FMS medication.
What I do understand is that prior to being medicated for FMS, I had periods that were pain free and because of that, I understand and believe that such is possible again. Shortly, after being diagnosed with both RA and FMS, I had hit my highest pain levels since I first started having symptoms which went back to over ten years ago. At the time, I thought that my life was dominated by medication and that there was no turning back from that. After a period of depression, I found my way out of the black cloud that followed me everywhere I went, and decided that the more I knew, the likelihood of my feeling better was possible. With a sigh, I say, “if I only knew then, what I know now.”
What I know now
In the beginning when I was researching my conditions, the words that stood out were “diet,” “supplements,” and “lifestyle changes” in terms of how to feel better. In terms of why my symptoms were worse on some days and better on others, the words “sleep,” “stress,” and “sensitivities” echoed. I kept telling myself “but I take my medications, why don’t I feel better?” The more I read, the more the answers came. As intelligent as I was, I failed to understand “why” certain things in our diets and our environment affected us in the way that they do. “Why did certain foods make me sick?” “Why did stressful days make me weak to point of dizziness?” “Why did six hours of sleep send my body in chaos and eight hours didn’t?” Once I started to ask myself these things, the terms, diet,” “supplements,” and “lifestyle changes” made more sense.
I find that many people believe, as did I, that if we eat healthy, we can forget about other triggers of disease that surround us. One of the best pieces of advice I received from several of my resources, including author Sue Ingebretson, was to read labels. Once I started reading labels, I started realizing the answer to how triggers work. For example, cooking spray contains propane. Yes, you read that right, and if I had not read the bottle for myself, I would have never known. I am sure about the ill effects of propane in cooking spray but I will not be purchasing that product again, and now, I take a few minutes to read the ingredients on everything I purchase prior to putting them into my shopping cart. The other thing I have taken into consideration is that eating out means not knowing what is in my meals so I have started eating out less and staying away from greasy places like fast food places.
How about skin products? You would think that if something goes on your skin, it should not be harmful. Not true at all. Since my diagnoses, my skin became my enemy and often times, I felt like it was eating me up alive. I thought about natural skin products but I was not too thrilled with the price. A few months back, I contacted Sheila at Aventine Hill about doing a review on a couple of her products with no idea how my understanding of natural skin products would change. My skin no longer feels like it is eating me and the cost seems minimal compared to how my skin now feels. Moreover, I no longer use lotions to excess because natural soaps, unlike commercial soaps, retain glycerin, and that is what makes our skin soft thereby reducing the need (and cost) for moisturizers.
The Key to Feeling Well
When I was first diagnosed, I used to daydream about the Doctor from Doctor Who. I dreamed that he would take me away to a planet that had the cure for every illness and ailment known to man. Unfortunately, the Doctor never arrived and I had to take my health into my own hands. It is a daily learning process, harder on some days, easier on others. I have learned while that I can’t always control how I feel physically, I can control how I respond. There are days where, like any chronic illness sufferer, I am angry, sad, and depressed because of the way my body physically feels. At the same token, there are also days where I feel hopeful, happy and somewhat “normal.” Often, I have to remind myself that, while I never had a choice in being sick, I have a choice to try to feel healthy. Further, feeling healthy and making the effort isn’t always easy, but it comes down to a combination of nutrition, supplements, exercise, stress reduction and adequate sleep.
To be continued . . . I am going to discuss these five things in detail, and their affect in my life and the beginnings of my healing journey, in part 2 of this post on natural healing which you look forward to in a couple days. In addition, there will be a part 3 that goes into spiritual well-being and positive thinking.
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If you like have a question related to rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia that you would like me to answer, please feel free to either leave it in a comment box anytime (leave your email/website link so I can notify you when it is answered) or send me an email to email@example.com. I will do my best to answer your question.