Life can turn on a dime when you least expect it. Like others before me, I found out the hard way when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two decades ago, at the age of 34.
At the time, my diagnosis was like receiving a death sentence. I had always been very athletic, so my initial thought was wondering how I'd ever maintain my active lifestyle. How would I fill up my days if I couldn't move?
The pain was constant. It would take me 15 minutes just to get out of bed in the morning. During the day, there was no relief. I felt excruciating pain, and no position ever felt comfortable to me.
Plus, the timing could not have been worse. I had two young boys at home and a newborn baby girl who was struggling with her own health challenges. I knew it was important to breastfeed her to keep her immune system strong and healthy. But that meant no pain medications besides Tylenol.
My doctor and clinical visits consisted of me trying to touch my toes, lifting my hands, and bending my fingers. After I answered the question of how much pain it caused, they'd adjust my medication and send me on my way. They told me to come back in three months for a follow-up. It was crazy! They weren't helping me. All they were doing was monitoring the progression of this debilitating disease in my body. Or that's what I thought.
But while driving home after one of my appointments, I had an aha moment. I realized there had to be a better way to heal. I just needed to find it. And I did.
Today, I live free of pain. I feel younger now than when I was in my 30s at the height of my painful disease. I now know you don't have to live that way, because I was able to overcome it.
How I healed my rheumatoid arthritis
When people ask me how I recovered from rheumatoid arthritis, I don't have a cut-and-dried answer for them. I just know that it was a pivotal moment in my life when I decided I was going to find a way to regain my health and my life. I started my healing journey and never looked back.
In the beginning, it started with research. I read everything I could get my hands on about holistic health. It didn't matter how crazy or insane the information sounded; I couldn't get enough. I figured I could learn something, even it didn't look like it was a plausible cure.
As I researched, I kept coming across different alternative ways to heal. I tried everything I could to see if it would help. I detoxed and cleaned up my diet. I came up with all types of weird concoctions while at the same time learning how to be mindful and present in the moment. I tried therapies that no one had ever heard of back then, like EFT, quantum touch, trigger point therapy, and reiki. These therapies may be familiar now, but back then, people thought I was crazy for trying them.
And yet, as I started to experiment with different holistic practices, I began to get better and my pain started to diminish. There were a few things in particular that I feel made a large impact on my healing. One of the most significant changes I made to my lifestyle was removing dairy from my diet. I realized that when I ate anything with dairy, my joints would swell up and cause lots of pain.
Another practice that truly affected my healing was dealing with my emotions. When you're stressed for any reason, it has a huge negative impact on healing. I love doing tapping (also known as EFT)—it helped jump-start my healing progress during the times when I felt I had plateaued.
I no longer live with pain. These days, I listen to my body and make adjustments when I start to feel something is wrong. It may be a supplement I need or it may be some extra rest. Whatever it is, I make the necessary adjustments and the pain never sets in.
What I wish more people knew about healing
During my journey, I learned so many things about healing. Here are three fundamental lessons:
1. Trust what works for YOU.
Find out what works for you, and do it. Don't rely on others to control the outcome of your health. Do your own research and always be open to experimenting with safe alternative approaches.
There are so many roads to healing, so don't sit back and wait. Listen to your gut and try what feels right for you, even if people think you're crazy.
2. Change what isn't working for you.
Don't continue to lead the life you have and expect a different outcome. Take inventory of your life and see what isn't working and change it. Whether it is a simple change or a radical one, just make sure it is positive.
3. Deal with your emotions.
When emotional blocks are present, it's much harder to overcome a serious illness. I believe that dealing with your emotions, finding your happy place, and gaining a purpose will catapult your healing to the next level. It's not just a luxury; it is essential to proper healing.