My Walk with Progress

I’ve been very reluctant to write about how I’ve been doing lately because I’ve been feeling significant improvements. Reluctant because I know the relief I am feeling could be snatched away from me without a moments notice. The knowledge that things can change at the drop of a hat with this disease causes me to hold my breath each time my feet touch the ground in the morning. I’ve woken up too many times with a body part on fire and inflamed and any hope of progress seemingly less tangible.

I’m experiencing less pain, particularly in my feet and I’m able to do so much more. I have moments when I forget about the pain in the midst of my activities. I don’t wake up stiff, I haven’t been affected by the temperatures dropping to freezing, most days I don’t feel the need to take a nap during the day and I haven’t needed to ice my feet since Thanksgiving. It has been wonderful. The improvements have been so gradual over the past few months that they almost seem surreal.

I believe the antibiotic protocol I’ve been on has been helping me tremendously in my battle. But I also believe that the diet modifications I have made have helped to lessen the load on my body in it’s attempt to repair. I have yet to sit down and write about my discoveries because they are extensive and reach all the way back to shortly after I was diagnosed. There is so much I want to share and so much information to organize. I look forward to sharing in the new year.

I’ve realized that the improvements I have been feeling have caused me to go through some of the same emotions I experienced when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Acceptance has been the biggest one. Accepting a diagnosis takes time to process. For me, it took a lot of time. I wrestled with a million thoughts and emotions, sifted through tons of research and quite frankly, didn’t buy what I was being told by the doctors. I’m not quite sure when I arrived at a place of acceptance. But I did. Not in a lying down, roll over dead sort of way. But in a way that left me with a sense of peace.

Lately, I have struggled with accepting that I really do feel better. Do I really feel improvements or is it just my comfy new shoes making the time on my feet more bearable I wonder? (Why am I just now learning about Naots?!) Do I really feel better or have I just gotten used to a certain level of pain? Do I really feel better or am I just able to push through the pain a little stronger? But there really shouldn’t be any doubt because compared to my life a few months ago, I’m kicking butt.

I keep pushing the envelope to figure out the extent of my improvements. I walk further, park further, jump longer on my rebounder, spend more time on my feet. And I do well. There is a part of my brain that knows for a fact that it’s real and another part that doesn’t want to get hurt. I feel like I have to keep up my guard in a sense. The same way that people often protect their hearts after they’ve gone through a terrible relationship. Because I know that this disease is so unpredictable and could hurt me at any moment.

Here are a few of the things I’ve done lately that I couldn’t do six months or a year ago that help to dispel any doubts I have:

Park at the farthest end of a parking lot at a large grocery store and cover the entire store. (Only to be disgusted by endless aisles of garbage. Sorry, it’s so true.) I couldn’t even think about doing this before.

Climb a giant tree in my front yard to hang lights on the farthest ends of the branches. Last year, I could barely stand on level ground outside, which made my attempt to help pretty pathetic.

Walk down my stairs straight in the morning and run up them when needed. I’m so used to coming down sideways while grimacing every morning due to the pain in my heels and ankle. And I used to hate it when I forgot something upstairs. The climb up was painful and never fun. Now I can run up them when needed.

Shop with my honey all over the place this past weekend. I would have been a terrible mess last year after just one store.

Spend five hours in the car with only one break to stretch. Our last trip up north in May was a very uncomfortable one. Stepping out of the car and straightening out was very painful.

The tender spots on my joints (particularly my feet) are still there and are very sensitive to the touch. I touch them frequently to gage how they are doing. And my right ankle still appears swollen and throbs with pain constantly. But the pain in my feet is definitely more manageable and the improvements in my fingers and wrist have held steady for months now.

I don’t have much time left with the particular antibiotics I am on right now which makes me a little nervous since I am seeing incredible results. I have just over a month left before my doctor said we have to call it quits to avoid antibiotic resistance to the drugs I am taking. I am praying for wisdom concerning my next step. I am considering a couple different approaches and have presented literature and protocols to my rheumatologist that he is unfamiliar with. At my last appointment this month he said he would research what I shared with him and talk with me about it at my next appointment in January.

I am writing from my mother in law’s house right now. We made the trip here a couple days ago and will be here for Christmas. The last time I was here, I left in the worst pain I have been in since then. I think a great deal of it was from the MSG I consumed in the Chinese food I ate while here. This time, I brought bags of my own groceries and have prepared my own food while here. Whenever we’ve eaten out, I’ve been able to focus on my little guy and play with him as opposed to juggling eating and entertaining him. It’s a pain to cook here, but well worth the effort I believe. So far, so good. I am determined to leave here in roughly the same level of pain I arrived in.

It’s Christmas time! God sent us His son. The greatest gift we will ever be given! The sweetest offer of  hope for eternity. The promise of life everlasting in a beautiful place with Him. And you know what that means–new bodies that are one day healthy and pain free!

The birth of Jesus was more than the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It was more than the virgin birth, the great company of angels that appeared, the star and the wise men. The story is really about Jesus… God in the flesh… here among us… bringing hope and life to all who ask. (Copied from Citizen Link)

May this Christmas be a wonderful and blessed experience for you and your families. Merry Christmas and may God bless each one you!

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12 thoughts on “My Walk with Progress

  1. I’m happy for you experiencing less pain. I’m jealous over climbing your tree and walking down stairs straight. The real reason for Christmas is so lost to most people anymore. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and good health and happiness in the New Year.

  2. I love that you are feeling better and I love that you are sharing it with us. One thing that really scared me when I was diagnosed is that I read a large number of stories of people feeling pain, but never about anyone feeling better. It is so important to share those stories too. Thank you.

    I have been on meds now since the summer and I feel a ton better too. However, food plays a huge part. When I get off track, I can almost instantly feel the inflammation returning. Like you, I bring my own food and often cook myself. After a while you start to even enjoy it. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear more of your story with food. Also, like you, even with improvements the feet feel the pain. Poor things.

    I hope 2011 is a wonderful year for you full of happy memories and love.

    Cathy

    PS. I love the new family photo.

  3. It’s exciting to hear that you’re feeling better.
    My family, too, traveled for Christmas and I’m now trying to catch up on everything. Looking forward to hearing more about your discoveries.
    Merry Christmas.

  4. AWESOME!! SO HAPPY you are experiencing some relief!! *Happy Dance* 🙂

    Your post brought out some emotions in me… some that I haven’t been able to put in to words to express, but you did. Thank you. 🙂

    I too doubt my progress sometimes… even though the evidence of my progress can’t be argued with. “I don’t want to get hurt.” Isn’t that the truth?!

    Acceptance is difficult; I still wrestle with my diagnosis. I wonder if there will ever been a day when I will accept it?

    Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

  5. I’mso happy that you’re feeling some relief! I can relate to not wanting to get ahead of yourself and questioning if “it’s real” Keep up your great work with the nutrition stuff. I am really sold on it. I haven’t updated in a while as my family is going through some tough times but I am maintaining a pain free life right now and every single day, it amazes me that I have been able to control my RA. I’m really excited for you!! Happy Hoidays.

  6. I have not had an opportunity to visit your blog but I really hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

    A lot of us feel reluctant writing about improvement – I mention that I am doing better once in a while but I really don’t go into detail. So please, don’t feel like you are required to bring that up but I am glad you are feeling better. Emotions are part of the process and we go back and forth with them – trust me, I know! I also try to walk more including parking further but kids make that hard. 🙂 All of these goals wonderful but take it one day at a time – it is a process. I understand that is hard to eat at someone else’s home but you need to make it clear what you can and cannot eat. Your health is the best excuse you can offer and people have to understand. I only eat chicken and seafood and my mom understands so when she cooks and I am coming over, she considers that and so do my sisters and my friends.

    • It would be nice if people understood about eating restrictions, but not everyone does. My MIL made sugary desserts and claimed that “one piece won’t hurt” when insisting that her diabetic mother eat dessert – no, make that one piece of every kind of pie and cake, and a couple cookies, too. She also doesn’t believe in food allergies, so cooks the way she always has; people have to choose between getting sick or going hungry/hurting her feelings. A few years ago we got home from a visit and one of my daughters asked me, “Why doesn’t grandma care if we get sick?” This year, three of my kids were in tears and wanted to know why we have to go to grandma’s house when she doesn’t even like them or care about their health. We’ve had years that the only thing available for my daughter to eat was cold, dry turkey.

      When I have guests, I wouldn’t dream of serving foods that violate the person’s diet – I even go so far as to ask about preferences. Not everyone feels that way. It would be nice if people understood, but there are people who don’t.

      • I always love people that ask about our food restrictions and work hard to provide food/snacks that work for us. It does make you feel special.
        WarmSocks, my daughter had a recent situation at a sleepover where the mom would ask her if she wanted a cookie (gluten) and Sophia would explain that she didn’t and an hour later she would ask again. Luckily Sophia is strong in her decisions but I would feel bad for someone who wasn’t and kept being tempted over and over again.

  7. You are inspiring. I am so happy you are feeling better! Let yourself enjoy these good days. I really struggle with not letting that fear of the unknown ruin my hope for the future. I will pray for you too. Happy New Year!

  8. Happy New Year to each of you and your families! I am so grateful for the encouragement, insight and friendship from you Terry, Cathy, Megan, Jen, Lana, WarmSocks, and Kelli. It has meant more to me than you will ever know. I can’t imagine going through this without the comfort and support and understanding that you have provided in my life. I remember each of you in my prayers and pray for improved health and medical advancements and discoveries in 2011.

    WarmSocks–I have to say that the situations you and your family experience with your MIL just breaks my heart. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around why people just don’t understand the ramifications the things we put in our bodies can have on our health. Sometimes when my husband eats something awful and comments that a little won’t hurt, I can’t help but say–just like a little crack won’t hurt someone either. You know?

    • This year was better. I baked a bunch of granola and we took it with us; I told MIL that we know how busy she is getting the big dinner ready, so we brought food for breakfast so she wouldn’t need to cook. We also had snacks along so that everyone could eat, regardless of what was served. Everyone else just shakes their head and says, “That’s grandma; she’s not going to change.” My kids noticed this year, though, that all the other grandkids escape as soon as they can – they put in a courtesy appearance, then have some other committment they have to keep. If you’re not nice to people, they don’t want to be around you. We live 350 miles away, and she sees us more often than her son/grandkids who live 2 miles from her. As my kids realized (finally) what grandma’s behavior has done, they understood better why we insist on a little compassion and going to visit once or twice a year. It went much better this year with us taking some of our own food, so we’ll do that from now on.

      Have a happy new year 🙂

  9. Happy New Year my dear friend. I have missed you so much and look forward to us meeting again soon. I have been so happy to hear all of the wonderful things that have become easier for you. You are such an inspiration to me and I thank God for you and your friendship. I will always be here for you and your family. Love ya sister!!!

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