I came from a family that was taught to work with your body, respect it and it will work for you, so when the doctor explained that my last few traumas, and car accident, had caused my my immune system to turn on itself, I believed good eating and great exercise would help. My doctor disagreed and told me all the horror stories of someone of my age getting such a disease. That most people get RA at 50 and have till 70 for it to totally disable them. So at 26, by 46 I would be in a wheelchair.
I started dutifully taking my cocktail of medicine daily. Liver function tests became a monthly affair and I had to check infection levels etc etc. I did not understand all the tests, but I was told with the correct meds and correct attitude all will be well.
All was not well.
My hands and feet began to deform. The meds were not working, I had to take more. I could not play my flute anymore, then my piano, later it was too sore to dance. More meds, more pain. Mornings were the worst. There were mornings my partner had to pick me up and put me in the bath before I could move.
Cortisone…. more cortisone…. more cortisone. Nothing was working. I had braces for my hands, feet, wrists, and fingers. My friends affectionately called me bionic woman. I was putting on weight, which was affecting my feet, but as soon as I went off the meds I was afraid I would land up in a wheelchair.
My godmother, who had just read a book on nutrition recommended I try change my diet. I told her what my doctors had said BUT decided to try anyway. I then went to a homeopath to be tested for any food allergies before starting my new eating plan. The homeopath took one look at my RA levels and told me I would never come off RA medication, but agreed a good eating plan and to exercise correctly would assist.
By now I was on new medication, which was basically a form of Chemotherapy, together with loads of cortisone and handfuls of other tablets, movement was still painful. I tried to start to exercise but it was too sore. The Methotrexate made me nauseous. The sores in my mouth and throat stopped any desire to eat. I knew if I was going to exercise I needed to be accountable to someone, and needed guidance. I tried gyms but I could not do the exercises alone. Some days I needed assisstance moving from one machine to the next or someone to tell me it’s okay to only do a few repetitions. Other days I just needed someone to tell me it’s okay, and that we gonna beat this. Coming from competitive dancing background I had no idea what was normal exercise, so on the good days I over exercised and landed up with flair ups.
I read that I should cut wheat, dairy and sugar out of my diet. Now let me tell you, anyone trying this without assisstance is mad. Basically we looking at wheat free, dairy free, taste free food..YUK. I could not stick to this alone.
It was round about here that I was introduced to Daniela. I was at my witts end. I felt I had tried everything I could. I was fighting increased weight, and loss of mobility. I was unable to hold my paintbrush anymore, and battling to keep up at work. The Methotrexate had brought my immune system so low that I was continually ill, and basically felt I was losing this battle. It was time to take someone to battle with me. And that is exactly what Daniela did. She worked out an eating plan for me that did not taste like cardboard from the local shop. And we started exercising slowly but surely. I truly felt I had someone fighting with me. In the time I was with her she taught me how to exercise, how to listen to my body, how I need to work with my RA and not fight it. Together, and I mean together, we trained for a good few Argus Cycle Tours. Yes, she coached me to ride 107km. We swam the Red House Mile! I started walking again, hiking! Me! Who had struggled to keep on my feet all day at work went white water rafting down the Orange River…..
I think if I was to put in a nutshell what I learned from Daniela….It was… anything is possible if we do it slowly. We listen to my body. And I was so privileged to have her teach me how to do that… and walk with me, and listen for me, until I learned to hear myself.
I have now learned balance, that food is your fuel. What you put in will dictate your performance.
During sessions we laughed together, cried together, and after many a flair up started again… and again… and again.
I am not off medication, and never will be, but I know that by eliminating the junk, feeding my body what it needs, and exercising regularly it performs the best it can. This week I had my levels tested… I am in total remission at present. I will flair up again, but I have been given the tools to guide my body through a flair up, and the courage to fight again.