I haven’t blogged for a while, but for good reason. I really had to make my health a priority. Yes, even more than before. The good news: it’s working! I’m feeling great and have renewed energy to dedicate myself to coaching and yoga teaching.
I thought you might find it helpful (and encouraging, I hope) to read an update on what I’ve been doing.
I am feeling much better! Yea! My pain is greatly reduced. The shoulder pain is gone for the most part. My elbow pain is minimal. I still have it, but it is only like a 1 or 2 out of 10. My range of motion is better, too, although I still have some restriction and swelling.
The best part is that the pain doesn’t wake me up at night, so my sleep is much better. That is priceless! My energy levels are way better than they have been in years.
I have to be careful, though. I’m usually really tired in the evenings, so that by 9, or 10 at the latest, I am in bed with the lights out. I know going to sleep by 10 is really important for healing the adrenal glands. If you stay up past 10, you usually end up getting a second wind (in Ayurveda this is explained by the fact that 10 pm – 2 am is the more active pitta time) and have a hard time falling asleep.
Well, the past couple of nights I haven’t felt so tired in the evenings, so I stayed up past my bedtime – not by a lot – I was tucked into bed by 10:40, but it still disrupted my sleep. I had trouble (both nights) falling asleep, and then last night, I also woke up in the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. Oops! Lesson learned – bed by 10 pm whenever physically possible!
So what have I been doing to improve to this point? My feeling is that it has been a combination of factors that finally led to improvement after 3.5 years with a constant flare of Rheumatoid Arthritis, finally positively diagnosed last May, plus over a decade of hypothyroidism. Most notable:
1. An evolution in my diet. I started on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) diet just over a year ago. I stayed very strictly on it for 4.5 months. During that time, I didn’t see much improvement in my pain or inflammation. I reintroduced some foods (occasional nuts and seeds, pastured eggs and ghee), without seeing a change one way or the other. Last May, I also did some specialized food sensitivity testing offered by my holistic DO (Doctor of Osteopathy), called EAV testing. EAV testing stands for Electro-accupuncture according to Voll. It’s sort of like high tech muscle testing. That test identified a lot of foods that were triggers for me that I was eating while on AIP, such as citrus fruits, bananas, coconut (sigh), and apples. So, I eliminated those foods, too. Again, I didn’t see any drastic improvements, but I think cleaning up my diet led to gradual improvements over the past year. Lately I’ve gotten a little sloppy, and I probably need to reign myself back in. Not so much that I am eating the wrong foods, but I do need to pay more attention to the nutrient density of the foods I am eating. I should probably eat more fish, too, since I did a week of just fish and vegetables and felt a lot better. I don’t much like fish, though, so it is a chore.
2. I started Low Dose Naltrexone. I started taking LDN in August. I really think this was a game changer for me. Again, it wasn’t like I saw a drastic improvement – it was gradual, until about a month after I started taking it, I realized my pain had decreased and I was sleeping better. I highly recommend researching LDN if you have an autoimmune condition. Check out www.lowdosenaltrexone.org.
3. I spent 4 months or so last year doing an intense herbal protocol to eliminate 9 different chronic infections that my doctor identified me as having. Once again, I didn’t have a drastic improvement from doing this protocol, but I feel like it was another piece of the puzzle that needed to be addressed in order to come closer to healing.
4.Yoga, Meditation, and Mindset. Oh, my. Well, after a too-long hiatus I returned to my yoga practice. Truth be told, I got a little disillusioned with my practice when my pain levels were really high and my movement limited. While rationally I knew I needed yoga, I felt a little betrayed by it. I mean, why was I going through all this pain in the first place – I was a yoga teacher! I took care of myself. Yada, yada, yada. Basically, I just had to “come home” to my practice. I have, and it (of course) has made a major difference in my life. I just feel better in my body and in my mind. My stress is down, my happiness is up. I have started teaching regular classes and workshops again, too. Sharing yoga makes me so dang happy! It’s the best medicine. And mindset has always been crucial as a way for me to remain positive and optimistic through years of physical suffering.
5. Sleep and Self-care. I already mentioned sleep above. Going to sleep by 10 may seem lame, but getting enough –good quality- sleep is nonnegotiable. It has to be a priority for good health. Don’t make the mistake of thinking getting by on little sleep or neglecting yourself is a badge of honor only given to “Super Moms.”
5. Supplements. I continue to take certain supplements based on nutrient deficiencies revealed by labwork. Of these, the one where I have felt a difference is iron. My ferritin was really low. I’ve tried a few iron supplements, but the one that makes me feel more energy is Pur Absorb. I take in in a little tart cherry juice, which is good for inflammation and hides the metallic, somewhat bloody taste of the liquid iron. I have a way to go to get my ferritin up to optimal levels, but even just a little improvement has allowed me to do better on my natural dessicated thyroid.
What’s next? Well, I still have a little pain, and the inflammation hasn’t gone away, so I know I have more to do to reach full remission. I started working with a homeopath, so I will keep you posted on that front. I will continue to refine my diet, manage my stress (soooo important!), practice yoga, and stride confidently in the direction of my dreams. A sense of purpose and gratitude are essential when battling an autoimmune condition – or two.
And I plan to keep doing whatever I can do to help other women who are also suffering with poor health, low energy, or similar challenges. I am working a few different projects that I will be unveiling over the next few months.
I hope you are feeling stronger and happier every day, too. I’d love to hear how you are doing, so let me know in the comments, and if you have any questions for me, I’d be happy to answer them.