After years of struggling with chronic pain, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. As a chef, I was working long, stressful hours. I wrote off my pain as part of my job, until things got so bad that I had no choice but to acknowledge there was something severely wrong.
I ended up hospitalized multiple times with extreme flare-ups and even had several surgeries as a result of the disease. I gained weight; I felt helpless, sick, and like I was getting sicker — and I didn’t have much choice in the matter.
By 37, I was taking a weekly injection, high doses of pain medication, powerful anti-inflammatories, and even a chemotherapy drug. The medications helped me deal with the symptoms and get to a place of marginal functionality, but I clearly wasn’t getting better.
At 38, I was on the brink of accepting my situation, when I had a near-death experience.
I developed an infection that went from my bloodstream to my brain causing a fever of 106°F and bringing me closer to death than I had ever been. My doctors were unable to figure out what had caused this mysterious infection and I was desperate for an answer.
For me the choice became simple: change or die.
Shortly after I was released from the hospital, I met Dr. Frank Lipman, a Western-trained doctor who practices functional medicine. Frank told me that he wanted to treat not my RA but the root cause of my RA.
In his practice, he often sees that issues like RA, colitis, and Crohn's stem from problems within the gut.
Rather than simply managing my symptoms, we approached my illness using a combination of Western medicine, acupuncture, supplementation, and restructuring my diet and lifestyle.