If you don’t fight for your health, who will?
You are the only one that truly knows how you feel and what your body is doing. And what your body needs! Once you give your body what it needs (or doesn’t need), it will respond positively!
I was about 3 months out from dealing with panic attacks and had resolved them and was feeling better. I didn’t think I would have to deal with anything else hopefully. I was wrong.
I woke up one morning last May and all my joints ached: feet, hands, knuckles, wrists, shoulders and knees. I limped to the bathroom. I creeped down the stairs one by one trying to not cry out to wake my sleeping family. I cringed when I lifted my son and knocked on patient’s doors. I picked up my son with my inner forearms. Normal at 33? Heck to the no!! As a physical therapist myself, I knew this was not some weird injury or localized issue. It was widespread and it was highly inflammatory.
I had been dairy free mostly for 6 ish months, but strictly the previous 2 months. My anxiety was better and I wanted cheese again so I added it back in maybe 3x a week or so in small amounts. Then that’s when the pain began. I really will never know if this was the true cause, it’s just the only change I made around that time. Post partum bodies are unpredictable things and I have heard of many women developing an autoimmune issue after birth. I woke up every morning thinking to myself “I have rheumatoid arthritis.” Every google symptom was there. Redness. Swelling. Worse in morning. Better by evening. I laid in bed and cried knowing I had to go face another day caring for others when my own body was screaming back at me.
I made an appt with a rheumatologist. I wanted bloodwork and a definite diagnosis to develop a course of action. Because I had psoriasis on my scalp he guessed it would be psoriatic arthritis. He gave me a script for Mobic so I could function at the beach and said we will discuss your labs at your next appt. The Mobic gave me terrible insomnia so I didn’t take it again. I survived the beach with 2 kids and my pain was moderate with Ibuprofen and Deep relief roll on as needed.
I came back and had my appointment. My labs were terrible:
He said I most definitely did not have Psoriatic arthritis. He called it “undifferentiated/mixed connective tissue disease.” Basically the way I took it, was a probable pre cursor to developing full blown Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, or both. He told me I could go on a immunosuppressant drug called Plaquenil. I took a few minutes to google a couple things. Yes, I know google is not a doctor but before just jumping into something or even buying something, google is always a good idea. He informed me that I would need eye exams twice a year on this drug in case it caused blind spots in my eyes. Great, possibly help my pain, suppress my immune system and cause impaired vision. Sounds great. No thanks. I point blank asked him if altering my diet further would help reduce inflammation and he replied, no. I told him to go ahead and send in the prescription, but I would most likely not fill it. And I didn’t. I called my naturopathic doctor again and told her what was going on.
She suggested 3 things but a home stool sample test (GI-MAP) would be the most informative. It was also the most costly. Once my results came, she called me and we went over every abnormal finding. I do not remember much except my IgA was low and my zonlulin was high (indicating leaky gut), which is normal in most every person with autoimmune issues.
Selective IgA deficiency is an immune system condition in which you lack or don’t have enough immunoglobulin A (IgA), a protein that fights infection (antibody). Most people with selective IgA deficiency don’t have recurrent infections. However, some people who have IgA deficiency experience pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, allergies, asthma and diarrhea.
Autoimmune diseases, in which your immune system attacks particular organs or tissues in your own body, can be found with Selective IgA deficiency. Common autoimmune conditions found with IgA deficiency include rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Some people also have gluten intolerance or inflammatory bowel disease.
What is zonulin?
Zonulin is a protein, synthesized in intestinal and liver cells, that reversibly regulates intestinal permeability. Zonulin modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. It was discovered in 2000 by Alessio Fasano and his team at the university of maryland school of medicine. The classic symptom of cholera is profuse, watery, debilitating diarrhea. One of the bacterial toxins associated with cholera, called zonula occludens toxin, rapidly and reversibly opens the tight junctions between intestinal cells, temporarily causing leaky gut. Dr. Fasano and his colleagues found that cells in the human intestine produce a protein that is almost identical to the zonula occludens toxin, and they named it zonulin. Dr. Fasano’s group then isolated zonulin from human intestines and found it to increase intestinal permeability in primates.
Zonulin and Leaky Gut
Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability,” is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the blood stream. The foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body including inflammatory and allergic reactions such as migraines, irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
I would love to repeat my GI-MAP/stool test, but it’s around $300 so I will probably give that another whole year since healing leaky gut takes a ton of time.
Each “problem” had a specific course of action in supplement form to try. I could not afford them all, but she helped me narrow down the best choices for me at the time. I had already cut gluten and dairy at this time, and most refined sugar but could not help but be curious as if I was missing something obvious my body was reacting to. For example, almond milk that I consumed daily. I then ordered a IgA test from Everly Well. I pricked my own finger and sent off blood samples. The results came back revealing i was reactive to wheat, gluten, brewer’s yeast and eggs. That was all I needed to know. I further cut those items from my diet. Brewer’s yeast is in vinegar products which is in a lot of condiments like ketchup, bbq sauce, dressing, and pickles. I can handle distilled vinegar as the yeast is distilled out of it.
My pain did not instantly go away. I dealt with flare ups depending on what I ate if I was unaware of something, the weather, my cycle, my activity level. I rejoined the kickboxing gym at the end of October but my hands and wrists could not handle repetitive punching and weight bearing in gloves. By Christmas, I would say I was 90% better. There are days my hands, knuckles or wrists are kinda sore or stiff but again its from exercise, so I try to only do those in moderation as well as try to stay 100% with my dietary eliminations.
I just went last Friday to get established with a local to back home, PCP. He listened intently to my whole story and did not think I was crazy. He was very supportive in all my choices and impressed as well I gathered. He ordered repeats of my inflammatory blood work tests. Before I left, I asked him “what if they are not better?” His reply was “but you feel better and that’s all that matters.” To this A student’s disappointment, my labs did not improve, but they also did not worsen. My sed rate actually went from 26 to 27 but my CRP went from 0.59 to now 0.17 but it was not over the normal limits to begin with but at least it’s better. Both of these are measures of inflammation in my body. My ANA has been positive both times.
I reached out to some of my close friends/influencers after I got my results and the love and support I received brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart. I know not all tests are 100% accurate as many things could come into play both last year and this year when they were drawn. I had just finished running 4 miles after my labs were drawn last week. And it dawned on me. I had ran 4 miles. Me? The girl with this “disease”?? Yes me. While my labs say there is inflammation in my body still, my symptoms are controlled. And who controlled those symptoms? Not a pill. Not a doctor. ME!!! Well and God because I can do all things through Him that gives me strength for my hope rests in Him.
A precious soul said it best when she said that God will do things in His own time and His own way and I already knew that. But she hit a home run when she said that I can connect better to those with labs/diagnoses like mine rather than if I had “normal” lab values because look what I can do! If I can do it, so can they! Just look:
- I workout every single day (well one day is active rest like yoga)
- I run 8-10 miles a week currently, slowly increasing
- I have a full time physical job helping the sick
- I care for my 2 small ENERGETIC children
- I sleep all night (finally)
- I have lost 12 lbs since March through consistent and diligent diet, macro counting and exercise that is now my LIFESTYLE
- I have started a blog and influential Instagram to share my story with others
- I have become a consultant with Beautycounter to again share my love of all things good for us versus bad and for self love (my skin needs it!)
- I have control of my health from top to bottom without the use of medication.
- I lift people up daily through my job both physically and mentally and hope to set an example to them, their families, my own family, my kids, the generations to come.
- I can knock on doors, climb stairs, do squats, unscrew gas caps, lift my kids, run, kayak with dolphins, take care of my patients and my household, and LIVE MY LIFE without pain. Praise you Lord! Praise you!!
Would I love to see “normal” lab values one day? Of course. But I will not let this derail the progress I have made. There are many MRI’s of the spine out there that look terrible with spurs, herniations, etc and the patient’s have zero symptoms. They are just tests/numbers. I do know and often tell my patient’s that Rome was not built in a day. 34 years of antibiotic use, inflammatory foods, sugars, caffeine etc will not be healed and go away in a year. I will press onward. I will stay the course. I will continue to share my journey and help others along the way. God is not finished writing this story yet, so stick around. I have a 10K to run in October to train for and I will cross that finish line.
Sometimes the straight A student isn’t always the most successful. Some things look better on paper. Some look better in real life and functioning. Sometimes we fail so God can win for us and we can teach others. Trusting the journey and giving Him all the Glory.
2 thoughts on “Fight for your health”
hi….lovely blog n write up.i am also an RA patient got it right after my pregnancy. Can we pls connect.would be of great help since currently my inflammation is flared up and am struggling with handling my kid along with managing the daily chores.pls do write back
Yes! Follow me on Instagram at thegutgospel and message me