I’ve got it! I’ve got a plan; a two-part plan and I need your help.
For the last month and a half, I’ve contemplated my goals for living with the effects of the RA disease and medications thereof and I’m ready to try a new experiment. Some of you may know from reading my blog posts over the past year or so that I like to try new things. You know, experiment and dabble with this and that.
Since early August when I ended up in Emerg where an ER doc diagnosed pericarditis and pleural effusions (build-up of fluid around the heart and lungs due to RA) I have diligently taken the pharmaceuticals prescribed. Recovery and medication side effects have had its challenges.
The thought of putting my life solely in the hands of my rheumatologist and the pharmaceutical companies is more than I can bear. Nothing against my rheumy or drug companies though. I know the RA doc works hard to give her patients the best possible treatment and is bound to work within the medical model dictated by the association. And, I know the drug companies work hard to make it financially feasible to keep a humongous amount of people employed earning a decent living to support their families. So, good is happening on both counts. However, my experience as a patient in the medical system has left me wondering who is listening to the concerns of the patients that live with RA.
It seems like having an illness is a double-edged sword. The effects of the disease itself are horrendous and the side-effects of the medications used to treat the disease are horrendous. Patients are jockeyed from one med to another med sometimes trying three and four at a time to “see” if relief from symptoms is accomplished. Actually, I have a great respect for the medical doctor who works in a system like this. I wouldn’t have the patience (pun intended).
So that’s my little rant on frustrations in the medical system.
Now, back to my plan.
For several years, I’ve heard how diet has a significant impact not only on RA disease but a host of other conditions like heart disease, diabetes, migraines and obesity to name a few. There is no shortage of testimonials from patients who have resolved their medical condition through a change in diet. Diet is an area I’ve dabbled off and on in for a few years. Sticking to a rigid plan is difficult for me especially when I don’t see immediate results. Yes, I’m the instant gratification type. I am trying to learn a new way though.
Last week, I received an email from Dr. McDougall. The headline read, “18 year-old Cures Juvenile RA with McDougall Diet.” So I read the testimonial. Juliea Baker began experiencing symptoms of RA at age 15. It sounds like she found Dr. McDougall’s diet when she was roughly 16-1/2 yrs. old and began implementing the changes. Within a couple of months Juliea felt 90 percent better. Juliea determined that eggs and dairy do not agree with her system. As long as she doesn’t consume those items she is symptom free. (Click here to see Juliea’s video testimonial.)
Sounds impressive, but I wonder if it will work for me.
Juliea isn’t the only testimonial on Dr. McDougall’s website that claims to be cured from RA through his diet. There are at least 2 others.
Dr. McDougall advocates a starch-based, animal product-free and oil-free diet. Additionally, where there is RA disease, he specifically recommends eliminating eggs, wheat, meat, corn, soy, and dairy. He claims it will take about four months to see the full benefits.
The word rigid is probably an understatement here, at least, that’s what my paradigm tells me. I guess the question I have to ask is how bad do I want freedom from RA symptoms and to potentially get off pharmaceuticals as Juliea and the others did.
So that’s part one of the plan. Try new diet.
On Tuesday I attended week one of an 8-week program called, “Managing Pain Mindfully“. Thankfully, it’s offered free of charge through my doctor’s medical centre. The course is designed to increase awareness of our body and mind and to invite change in our relationship with pain by learning how to pay attention to what is going on for us in THIS moment. It’s an experiential program that gives the participants ample opportunity for practice at the program as well as at home. Studies show that 65% of participants experience a reduction in pain levels of more than 33% while, 25% show a reduction of more than 50%.
Since I’m all for present moment awareness training, I thought the program would fit nicely in my life right now. Our homework for this week is; breathing exercise twice daily, relaxation exercise once daily, eat at least one meal mindfully, and I’m going to add my own loving-kindness meditation once daily since I feel this is an area that I need to cultivate compassion for self.
So that’s part two of the plan. Mindful awareness and loving-kindness.
I expect I’ll have many issues with the diet part because I know me and my history. It will take me a bit to get organized and fine tune it for my own way of life so I’m not expecting perfection at the get-go. I think I’ll ease into it over the coming weeks.
To help keep myself accountable and track progress or lack thereof, I decided to post a daily update. That way I’ll have a journal of events that I can look back on to see if any patterns develop and hopefully receive inspiration or tips from readers.
As always, thanks for reading and blessings to all.