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In 2012, rheumatoid arthritis hit my life like a wrecking ball. I went from a fit, healthy woman who worked full-time as a massage therapist and hiked on the weekends for fun, to someone who limped crossing her living room and didn’t have the strength in her hands and wrists to wash dishes. I was introduced to a level of pain so unlike any I had experienced before that I think it deserves its own word. I woke up in the morning feeling 90 years old, and that was the good part of my day. Every night like clockwork, a joint would flare so extremely that I would have to immobilize it or I would be gasping and crying with pain. If it was my wrist, it went into a brace. If it was my shoulder, it went into a sling. If it was my knee, I could no longer support my weight. And if it was my jaw, I couldn’t open my mouth to speak or to eat. Painkillers barely took the edge off. I was terrified and didn’t know how I could survive it.
I am eternally grateful to the internet for putting information at our fingertips and allowing me to read about the GAPS , Paleo & Wahls diets. They taught me how to use food as medicine, with powerful results. The GAPS diet took me out of crisis, and the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol stopped my flares for over 2 years – all without the help of steroid or immunosuppressant medication. I was able to return to working full-time and the mountain hikes that I loved. However, I wasn’t cured, nor was I in complete remission. But the blessing was that RA was just a whisper in my body where it used to be a scream.
In 2016, RA raised its voice in my body again. I hit perimenopause and simultaneously, I started having miniature RA flares. They reminded me of RA onset but they were much less severe (thankfully). The inflammation moved around my body from joint to joint, but I didn’t need to immobilize joints or take additional painkillers. However, something else happened which was new and very scary – I started experiencing rapid joint changes simultaneously. I lost my ability to make a fist as well as significant range of motion in my left shoulder. I took steps to try to balance my hormones, but that takes time, and my joints were getting damaged immediately. I decided to start immunosuppressant medication.
I now manage rheumatoid arthritis with the best that paleo and conventional medicine have to offer. I follow a personalized version of the paleo autoimmune protocol, and prioritize healthy life choices (like plentiful sleep, stress management, self-love and time outdoors). I’m also experimenting with medication to see if it can halt my joint changes and ideally put me in remission. Here’s the important thing: I don’t allow myself to be a victim to my diagnosis. My goal is to thrive and live a vital life with autoimmune disease. Through my blog and podcast, I hope to inspire others to do the same.
Read the Details of My Journey Here
My Blog, Podcast and Books
This website is dedicated to anyone whose autoimmune disease knocked them down so hard they feared they would never rise again. Never underestimate your ability to rise. We all have a phoenix within us!
I started this website to share all I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about living an empowered and healthy life with autoimmune disease. I am honored to be the Autoimmune Columnist for Paleo Magazine, host of the Phoenix Helix podcast and author of the book A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I’ve also written two e-books: Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP and 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts. However, I’m not a doctor or dietitian. I’m just one woman among many, for whom food has become medicine. Before embarking on a healing diet yourself, please consult with your healthcare team. On this website, I’ll be writing more about:
- the autoimmune experience
- details of healing diets
- menu plans and recipes for those diets
- supportive practices such as meditation and detoxification
- and success stories of other people with autoimmune conditions who have improved their autoimmune symptoms dramatically through nutrition.
P.S. Everything tastes better if you wear purple when you cook.