Here's a long post - literally bearing my heart, body & soul.
When I was 17 I came down for a rebound in a summer camp basketball game, and my life has never been the same since. I sprained my 5th Lumbar. I was told not to play basketball my Senior year of high school, I did not listen because basketball was my life. If I could do it over again I'd do the same thing.
For about 18 years I had on and off episodes of my back "going out". It hurt every day, some days worse than others. I have been on and off all different types of medications. I was told I had slipped discs, bulging discs, etc...without ever having had an MRI.
When I was 27 I had my first MRI. He told me to lose weight, but didn't give me an official diagnosis.
When I was 32 my neck started "going out" more frequently. It normally just "got stuck" once every year or two, but now it was happening every few months. I had lost a substantial amount of weight and noticed improvement in my back...only to start dealing with my neck. I finally went to see the Neurologists at Trinity Mother Frances. They performed MRI's of my lower back and neck and couldn't believe what they found. I had Degenerative Disc Disease (something you only see in people twice my age), 9 herniated discs from C3-C7 and L3-S1. And the craziest part was my neck. It was such a severe reverse "kyphotic" curve that it went past straight up and down and curved in the complete opposite direction. They asked me to sign a waiver allowing them to show my films to their students, since it was the worst kyphotic neck curve all 3 of them had ever seen.
What was the prognosis? Nothing. They honestly couldn't figure it out. They did site injections stating that it was purely diagnostic to see if I got relief, and if I did they could move forward. But with what??? Surgery. Hell to the no thank you. I was 32 years old, and knew from working with patients that as soon as you start the back surgeries, they never stop.
So I transferred my file to Texas Spine & Joint. They were amazing. They started with facet joint injections, when those wore off (about 9 months later) they did medial nerve branch block injections, and when those wore off about a year later they did 2 neurotomies in my lower back (in Jan & Feb) and the next time my neck goes out I'll have to do a neurotomy in my neck. It was hell because I developed neuritis, but eventually it offered relief.
Until last month. My back pain started reappearing (3 months later) and a new pain started in my ribs/lung area. It only hurts in the morning and it takes me forever to get out of bed, but after 30 minutes it's gone.
So I started researching, and I self-diagnosed myself as having Ankylosing Spondylitis which is a member of the Psoriatic Arthritis family. I self-referred myself to a Rheumatologist, but he was not convinced because it so rarely affects women.
Here are the symptoms: a common mis-diagnosis of a sports injury as a teenager, starting in the lumbars & sacroiliac regions and eventually working it's way up the neck, bone spurs growing on the spine (which showed up in my last MRI in March, but they dismissed it because I was pain free at the time from the neurotomy), eventual pain in the costal cartilage/rib area, increased pain and stiffness in the morning, indigestion, gas, for women eventual spreading to the knees (last year), shoulders (2 years ago) and elbows (this year). I had all the signs, but unfortunately it is subjective in it's testing. You see, only about half the people who are diagnosed with it have the gene. That would be too easy for me...nope, my tests showed negative on the gene. Oh...and eventually your spine starts to fuse itself together, causing a severe bent over position when you are older. It is hereditary, and my Grandfather literally walks at a 90 degree angle due to his back being fused together.
So I was diagnosed with a broader term of Psoriatic Arthritis. He first started me on 16 days of prednisone to see if the pain lessened. It went from an 8/10 to a 1 or 2/10. So yes, the prednisone was awesome, but I made it very clear I did NOT want to get on a medication. I am at a place in my life where I despise medication and am replacing all meds in my home with herbal tinctures. He said not to worry, there were alternatives, to just take the meds for 16 days then come back.
So I did it, reluctantly. But the pain was so much better, almost gone! But when I went back this past Thursday, his "other options & alternatives" were just different varieties of arthritis meds and injections. I felt as though I had been punched in the gut. Is he not listening to me? NO MEDS!!!
I allowed him to call in my Rx for Lodine. My husband picked it up for me the next day. I got home from a long day ending a very long week. I picked up my new death sentence (my NSAID medications) and could not even finish reading the side effects of the medication before I found myself curled up in a bubble bath, bawling like a baby. Is this really what my life is going to be? Getting on meds that WILL eventually cause heart defects, heart attack, stroke, ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding? Not that it "might"...but that it will eventually cause these things if taken too long.
Ho-hum. I know what it feels like to be in this much pain at such a young age. But I also know what the long-term effects of NSAID's have on people, because I treat them every day. There has got to be another way.
After my husband caught me in the middle of my pity party, dried me off and made me eat dinner and go to bed at 6:30 on a Friday night, I decided to break out the trusty old laptop and start google-ing.
So...what did I find? Un-freaking-believable! There were answers that did not involve drugs! Why didn't my Dr tell me this? It's as simple as the food I put into my body. There are certain foods that increase inflammation in a person's body, and when the body is in a constant state of inflammation it causes increased wear and tear on the joints. Which is basically the definition of arthritis. Which over time causes degeneration, hence the diagnosis Degenerative Disc Disease!!!
So, I decided to try McDougall's arthritis diet, and I am now on day 8. By day 3 my pain was virtually gone. I made a vegetarian chili the other night and the only beans I had were baked beans with bacon flavoring, and my pain was back (very mildly) for 2 days. I am still in the acceptance phase of cutting out all animal products, but am ECSTATIC at the drastic difference in my pain level. Oh, and I have lost 10 pounds in the 8 days. An added bonus!
So for anyone questioning whether or not this will work, just try it. It won't hurt anything to try. Yes, it may be a little more expensive but I have not been nearly as hungry. I have gone from 239 to 229 in 8 days and hope that I will continue losing during this transformation to a no animal diet.
I have had much success with this new WOE!
Started no animal products on 6.24.12 at 240, 34 days later am 226!
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