I am a forty-five year old, Jesus loving, healthy eating, four boy having girl. I was a healthy and active child and young adult, but now my body no longer functions the way God intended it to. I have been dealing with a host of autoimmune joint and skin issues for several years now.  It has affected not only me and the way I live, but my family, my friends, and my relationship with God.

At the end of each day, through the good, the bad and the ugly, I hope that I have honored our Creator in some way. It’s quite a ride sometimes, but in the process, I enjoy the sweetest intimacy and love I have ever known through my relationship with Him. Only He knows what I truly feel.

I am a stay at home mom. We call Texas home. I was not born here and I did not get here as fast as I could as some people here say, but it’s a wonderful place to be for now. I am the oldest daughter of parents who have loved and supported me from day one and I have the sweetest sister on the planet. I feel blessed.

My escape from the madness of disease is my love of all things artistic and creative–cooking, decorating and gardening makes my heart swoon. Thankfully, these are a few things my disease hasn’t rob me the pleasure of. I can’t say the same about working out (boohoo), eating out (booohoooo) and getting out and about.

Growing up, I considered myself healthy. I didn’t get sick very often, I was always physically fit and involved in various sports. I went on to have four healthy babies (all by c-section) and always shocked the nurses with how quickly I recovered from each surgery.

But now, I have to work really hard to barely keep my immune system above water. What I put in and on my body is a huge factor. Clean food. Clean products. Critical! I’m always thinking about food and what my family will eat. My Doctor of Naturopathy and Dietician said they threw the book at me and the disease still didn’t budge. I have done so many detox and elimination diets in the past six years that I’ve lost track. I do them from time to time to help cleanse and reset things. I have given up a lot of things I once loved to eat and cook everything from scratch, my supplement list is extensive, I see a chiropractor every 5-6 weeks, I exercise, I take antibiotics twice a day, everyday, for years now, I see my rheumatologist and have blood work done every three months, just to maintain some semblance of my former health.

I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis is 2009 and was then diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2010. I have also had ankylosing spondylitis written next to my name as a possibility. Looking back, there were a couple of clues regarding my health. One thing that was persistent and never quite right was my skin. It started to break out painfully in first grade. It persisted into my adult years, even though dermatologists always told me growing up that it would subside as I got older. It never did and I battle it constantly. I have gone through a host of dermatologists and acne drugs, including the uber toxic drug accutane and have done a multitude of cleanses, elimination diets, and have tried just about every natural product under the sun.

It wasn’t until I gave up eating grains as an adult trying to combat an inflammatory arthritis that my skin improved dramatically. It’s pretty remarkable. Not once did a doctor ever mention that it could be something in my diet. It was always, try this drug and if it doesn’t work, try this one. I tried them all to no avail. I’ve since discovered that acne is listed as a symptom of psoriatic arthritis. Super interesting to me considering that psoriatic arthritis is now next to my name in my medical chart.

I also consistently got ear infections growing up. They persisted into my adulthood and seemed to get worse and more painful right up until the time I began to notice joint pain. I also had a case of strep throat when I was in high school that caused the doctor to call the other medical practitioners to come and look into my mouth to see how bad my case was. I often wonder what this left behind to manifest in me.

When I think about when my joints began noticeably going south, it goes back to 2006 when I began to experience pain in my neck that I knew was not normal. My wrists and right collar-bone were also beginning to hurt and my hands would often fall asleep. It caused me to seek out a doctor. The doctor referred me to occupational therapy for my neck (I went) and said it was probably just sore muscles, never ordered x-rays, told me to pick up carpal tunnel wrist bands at the drug store (I did) and wrote me off as a stressed mother. Fast forward five years, multiple mentions of neck pain to different doctors, requests for x-rays, and eventually a desperate plea for an MRI when I suddenly couldn’t move without jolting pain shooting through my body and I found myself on the phone with the emergency room.  An MRI revealed a large bulging disc pressing on my spinal cord and my neurosurgeon said surgery involving implanting an artificial disc in my neck and a plate and large screws was necessary. My rheumatologist was sympathetic and surprised when he read the report.

neck MRI

Next health oddity was in 2007. The thumb on my left-hand became swollen, extremely painful and difficult to bend. I’m left handed. I sought out a hand surgeon for this. My primary care physician had already written me off as stressed. I wanted a specialist of some kind and it was the only place I could think to start. He was baffled, asked me more than once if I was sure I hadn’t jammed my hand, gave me a steroid injection in my thumb (Oh. My. God. Never again.) and sent me on my way.

swollen thumb Seven years later and it still swells.

Then came my feet. I distinctly remember my feet first starting to hurt in ways they had never hurt on my honeymoon. It was easy to write this off in my mind at the time because we were doing a ton of walking and I wasn’t wearing what you might consider ideal shoes for walking long distances. But then came severe heel pain. The bones in my heels felt as if a hammer had been taken to them. I was working out regularly on my feet at the time and wrote this off as a footwear issue as well. Finally, I sought out a podiatrist. X-rays looked fine and I was told it was probably plantar fasciitis. I was pregnant with my fourth baby at the time. I followed up by doing the stretches, rolling my feet on tennis balls and ice water bottles to no avail. I had no choice but to quit working out entirely because it became too painful. This broke my heart, but I considered it temporary.

It wasn’t until I went to my hand surgeon a second time after the birth of my fourth baby in 2009 with the pinky on my right hand swollen and painful that I was referred to a rheumatologist. This is when I sort of freaked out. My first and former rheumatologist (who looked straight out of medical school) told me it looked like I had rheumatoid arthritis at my first visit. I walked out with with drug information handouts, a pit in my stomach and a follow-up appointment.

It was after the birth of my fourth baby that my body (my immune system) never truly felt the same again. It wasn’t too long after the birth that I came down with a painful kidney infection and had issues with mastitis over and over again in the months that followed. And then, a couple of toes swelled to twice their size and became extremely painful.

post swelling and psoriasis of the nail revealed Swelling of multiple toes and psoriasis of the nail revealed

The only option and suggestion I was given by my rheumatologist at the time was to act fast with drugs–the heavier, the better. I was breast-feeding my fourth baby at the time and it was extremely important to me to continue doing so. I also consulted with my current Doctor of Naturopathy and nutritionist and chose to attack my disease naturally with diet and supplements as long as I possibly could in order to continue breastfeeding. I knew it was a fine line I was dancing with my health. I had done the research into the disease. I went as long as I could until I had to make a pharmaceutical choice. It was time to shut the party down. Inflammation, pain and swelling were out of control.

After further research into my disease and my options, I chose to try an alternative therapy for autoimmune arthritis with a new rheumatologist that I found through the Road Back. I followed an antibiotic protocol in an attempt to manage my disease from 8/5/10-4/29/11. I experienced incredible results and was able to go without pharmaceuticals for a year and a half following my protocol. Then an inflammation party began again, accompanied by a double ear infection and as a result, I am currently doing another extended round with antibiotics (10/18/12-present). I wish more patients and doctors would consider the possibilities of this treatment. The evidence is there. The approach goes after part of the cause instead of hindering my immune system, which is the current protocol for most autoimmune diseases.

In September of 2010, I was given a new diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis because psoriasis developed under my fingernails and toenails. To this day, my blood work is pretty fabulous. Go figure. But I don’t need blood work and x-rays and MRIs to tell me something has gone after my body with the vengeance of a fire.

These days, I live in Dansko and Naot shoes and manage to do most of what I would like to do to some degree–most, but not all. My body isn’t what it used to be, that’s for sure. It’s an achy bag of bones as a result of coming under attack. It continues to fight the battle of an altered immune system and swelling and pain rear their ugly heads from time to time.

swollen wrist swollen wrist on my dominant hand. never fun.

I think in the grand scheme of things, however, I’m doing pretty awesome considering what I’m dealing with. I’m certainly better off now than when I was first diagnosed. Eating a whole foods diet, avoiding processed/artificial food and beauty products, taking key supplements, staying active, managing my stress, seeing my chiropractor every 4-5 weeks, and loving God, my family and my life keeps me going these days.

I decided to blog because it was put on my heart to put down in writing what God is doing in my life and to connect with others. I have been so touched by what other bloggers have shared. Talk about therapy. Thank you for putting words to so many emotions and hidden thoughts. And thank you for your advocacy work and devotion to your blogs. It’s only fair I give something back through my story.

At this point in my life, I feel as if my life has changed from that of a physical battle to a spiritual walk. I am a better person for it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t cry and mourn some days for the loss of my health. I went into this disease eating well, exercising regularly and loving life. But I’m trusting God one day at a time.


34 thoughts on “About

    • Ecco sandals? I must look into this! I love my Dansko sandals, but boy do I miss all my other cute shoes. I have a shoe grave yard in one closet. I swear, one day, I am going to wear my cute red satin ballet shoes again!

    • A pediatric rheumatologist has told me he is 95 percent sure my 9 year old daughter has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I have started learning as much as I can because I intend to see that she beat this. Right now it’s just her wrist that causes her pain, but the pain started back in Feb 2013 after she fell on her wrist on the trampoline. When she was a baby she had eczema. For the last month, I’ve been making her drink papaya smoothies every morning, and I try to limit any form of sugar as much as possible. If I can find a way to get organic extra virgin coconut oil into her system (she is not going to just eat it by the spoonful), I think that might be helpful. You might want to try the coconut oil, too, as I have read a lot about it and it has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. I couldn’t really tell from your blog what you think of bee sting therapy, but I am going to research that as well. Just because a doctor doesn’t have a cure, doesn’t mean there is not a cure. I’m a lawyer. People who become lawyers tend to approach problems very differently than the kind of people who gravitate to the sciences, math and then medical school and fill our medical community up with their problem solving approach. What I see time and again is that medical doctors were trained to memorize a list of symptoms and then diagnose patients based on that and then treat patients based only on what they learned are the standard treatments. To be more successful, the medical community needs to think more broadly and extrapolate (something most of their minds just don’t naturally do). I think Dr. Weill’s book Spontaneous Healing might give you some hope and encouragement. There’s a cure…it is out there….even if the established medical community has not found it yet. Thank you for your blog.

      • Dear mom to 9yr old girl,

        It breaks my heart to hear of the diagnosis your daughter was given. I pray you find what heals her. She is blessed to have a mama who is looking “outside the box”! The medical box that is.

        Coconut oil is a staple in my home. I use it frequently in smoothies and various soups and sauces. In a smoothie it blends up into itty bitty pieces. You may be able to get it into your daughter that way. 🙂 Allergy Free Alaska has great recipes using it and has two daughters of her own (one of whom has skin/food sensitivities). I drink large amounts of coconut milk as well. It has replaced dairy for me (in addition to almond milk). It’s what I use when I bake and cook. My kids have no idea.

        I’ve read about bee sting therapy as well. Let me just say that on my way to service one morning, we passed huge rosemary bushes that were covered in bees. Covered. I honestly thought about launching myself into them. 🙂 Free therapy!! I’m on board with anything that is a natural anti-inflammatory. Finding someone with good credentials could be tricky depending on where one lives though. And limiting sugar is the way to go! Yay!

        I believe there is a way out of every mess of a disease we find ourselves in. Some things such as genetics and our environment are out of our control and do play a factor. I think it is so important to do whatever we can to lighten the load on our bodies so our God given immune systems can do what they were designed to do, to stay hopeful and grateful and to support our bodies with the things it needs to battle. Praying your daughter finds relief.

    • I checked out your blog and we sure do have a lot in common. So happy to meet you! And so glad to see that you are blogging again. I look forward to getting to know you better. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  1. Thank you so, soooo much for all of your comments on my blog! You are so sweet and I am so glad you found me!! Such similar stories indeed. I live in my Danskos, both feet bother me, it’s the right Achilles, and my thumb/hands. Too bad we didn’t live closer to each other. We may never meet in this life, but we are totally going to be rocking heavenly bodies sometime soon. I’ll race you on the streets of gold (I’m gonna be so excited to have feet that work!)? AND I’ve already put my order in with God for an all you can eat buffet. 🙂 I hope He humors me on that one! Do you want to exchange emails? I wanted to fill you in a little bit more about the findings of my allergy testing. Not sure if it will help you, but any bit of information we can share hopefully will help us both in the long run! My email is ajandme@gci.net… and I’m on Facebook under Megan Everitt Ancheta. 🙂 Talk to you soon!!

    • It sure would be great to be able to get to know you in person–and try one of your delicious looking muffins! But I am all for rocking the heavenly bodies, and I will totally race you–to the heavenly buffet! I’m hungry just thinking about it. Thanks so much for the e-mail. Will be contacting you for sure. I’ll take all the info. I can get. Thanks for stopping by, Megan!

  2. I was just curious where you are located. I live in Alabama and would love to find an AP doctor that would agressively treat the RA that I have. I haven’t had any luck with minocycline and my rheumatologist doesnt know anything about AP.

  3. Hi Adrienne,

    I am in Texas. Have you tried contacting the Road Back Foundation to find out if there are any rheumatologists willing to treat you with AP in your state? I found my doctor through them.

    This is taken from their site:
    “To locate physicians who treat with AP, send an email to apdoctors@roadback.org, and a volunteer resource person will email you directly with suggestions of physicians for you to explore in your geographical area — to see if they match your needs. Some chose to travel greater distances to AP practitioners who have used antibiotic therapy regularly over many years and if that is what you wish, be sure to mention that you are willing to travel. Include information regarding your diagnosis in the email.”

    I’m so sorry to hear minocycline didn’t work for you. I’m curious how long you were on it. I’m glad to hear you haven’t given up on AP just because that particular antibiotic didn’t work for you. I’m a believer in AP therapy. In my particular situation, I have definitely seen improvements as a result of being on it. Merry Christmas!

    • Thank you so much for the information. I tried minocycline a few years ago for over six months and developed severe headaches so I stopped taking it. I restarted taking it again eight months ago just to see if it would do anything, and it hasnt done anything this time around. I developed more joint pain and a red face. I would like to try a different antibiotic to see if that would help. I really appreciate your feedback. I hope the AP works out for you. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  4. I found you through Maya’s Loving with Chronic Illness blog. I am Jennifer and I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. I will be following your blog. So happy to hear you are feeling better with antibiotics.

    • Jennifer,

      It is such a pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ve been reading your blog tonight and bawling my eyes out. I love your writing and I’m really looking forward to getting to know you more.

  5. Just found your blog. I’ve been wanting to find other moms on the same walk as I am with my RA. I look forward to reading.

    • So, so wonderful to hear from you, Cathy! So sweet of you to drop me a note. We are in the process of moving to our new home right now. We’ve been making several trips with our cars since our new home is only about seven miles away. My body is so spent….everything hurts. Can’t wait for this to be over. : ) But I think I am holding up pretty well, all things considered. Can’t wait to catch up on everyone’s blogs, as well as my own. Praying this finds you and your family well. Sending you a giant hug!

  6. Hello my name is Chad,

    I have lived with JRA for the past 30 years. Recently I have started a blog to help those suffering with arthritis to
    tot simply survive in life but thrive. I am looking to connect with other bloggers with a similar passion to see if we
    can swap and post links.

    • Not sure if comment is from a real person. You name is “Test” and your link takes me to a testing website. But in case you are real. I’d like to respond and not delete your comment or treat it as spam.

      You sound hurt and I am sorry. 😦

      What is great is that God is walking through this horrible, painful disease with me. I chose to write about it on the internet because I felt compelled to share that with others.

      • I think “test” is confused about how you could thank a god for helping you through a situation that the same god put you in. It’s a lot like loving your abuser.

      • For someone that doesn’t believe that the God of the universe created us and loves us more than we could ever comprehend, it is crazy to think I could thank God for the state of my life. But I do. He does give us free will. My choices in life have played a role. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt thanks to the Bible and the Holy Spirit that is indwelling, that I don’t have to question God’s purpose and plan for my life. For me, it is nothing like loving someone abusive. God’s means to an end are purely good. I love and trust Him based on that truth. Man’s means to an end are evil if he is inflicting pain and sorrow. The love is in spite of his sin.

    • by inserting a lower-case g, the moron gave you a tell.. he is a obviously a little boy (inside) who didn’t get what he wanted out of life so, in order to reconcile his insanity and lack of critical thinking (else while he wouldn’t have posted here) he takes it out on the world at large by blogging anonymously on websites that mention the GOD word.. I wouldn’t give him 2 more seconds of my time… 🙂 Jesus IS Lord!

  7. Hi, I love the name of your blog! I am from Mtunzini, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa and I have written a book, Seeing the Unseen, which parallels my 30 year RA and spiritual journey. I came to know Jesus the month I was diagnosed. In January this year I added an RA blog to my website http://www.soulbooks.co.za. It is called RA God’s Way. It took me ages to take the plunge into the blogging world but I love it and my heart is to inspire and encourage others on their RA journey. x Libby

    • Hi Libby! I am so excited to hear from someone who is from another part of the world! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Your blog and your desire to touch lives with it is beautiful. I love the Dear Neighbor concept. Your blog felt like such a welcoming place to learn more about our Savior. I’m glad that you’ve stepped into the blog world after writing a book and pray that you impact many with your passion. Blessings to you!

  8. Have you checked out the new FB group Research on Natural Medicine for Autoimmune Disease? Great group of folks, good info there, too.

  9. Hello, I was wondering what part of Texas you live in, if you do not mind answering. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your toes are already on the google images pages for arthritis toes. You’re famous! : )

    • Hi!

      I am in San Antonio. Are you in Texas as well? Glad to share my story. Connecting with others has been such a blessing. That’s funny my toes are on google images–sad, but funny! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  10. I just stumbled upon your blog while looking at pictures of psoriatic arthritis. I believe it is starting in my elbow and was doing some research. I have ankylosing spondylitis and have had it since birth, though I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 31. I’m now 34 and found out a little over a year and a half ago that ankylosing spondylitis caused my lung disease despite being a smoker. My rheumatologist said its just not possible to get emphysema at my age and that it’s pretty much unheard of unless you have the gene.

    Apparently I’ve had lung disease as young as 10 years old and they just never knew why I was having breathing problems. AS has repeatedly attacked my ribcage, feet, hands, hips and my entire spine. They told me it was “stress”, “all in my head” etc. so I believed them and continued on to make very poor life decisions such as smoking. I wish I had known earlier on that I was so sick. I know God brought me to where I am though and I don’t know that I’d trade that for anything. Being sick has made me a better person inside, someone I’m not so ashamed of because it taught me compassion. I know I will probably die from this disease but through it I found Christ and I’m no longer scared of death, I’m more scared of the process of dying.

    God gave me peace about where I am going when he does take me home and that was a gift I will be forever grateful for. I’ve also wanted to start a blog of some kind as I am pretty much a shut in now. I feel like God wants me to use this experience to help others who are going through this and the Internet is really the only good tool I’d have to accomplish that. I found it very encouraging to come across your blog and just wanted you to know and also to say thank you for sharing yourself where someone else could feel comforted that they aren’t alone. I hope you know how invaluable that is. Thank you for being here, I hope I’ll see you around. 😃

    • Desiree,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to thank me and share your story. It means a lot. If you haven’t already started blogging, I recommend it. Sharing my story has been a blessing and I have no doubt that sharing your story and connecting with others would bless you too! I’m so with you on fear of the dying process versus actually dying. I’m ready to rock a heavenly body and meet Jesus! Lose function of my earthly body–not so much. 🙂 God bless you!

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