I spent most of my life battling illness, literally from the day I was born with measles and 103 degree fever. I encountered odd illnesses that doctors could not explain throughout my childhood, teens, and early twenties. The severity of the symptoms and infections only increased over the years until I found myself falling to the ground when I tried to walk in my late twenties. Several trips to the ER and examinations with specialists finally provided the a-ha moment of a diagnosis that had eluded all the previous doctors. I had Lupus.
I spent the next decade seeing doctor after doctor and trying various medications, only to have the Lupus continue to progress and take over every aspect of my life. I was hospitalized numerous times annually, spending time in the cardiac wing, infectious disease ward, and becoming way too familiar with the hospital staff due to the frequency of my admissions.
I developed neuropathy, which required additional medication. My kidneys and respiratory system declined. The bone structure in one side of my jaw disintegrated, requiring reconstruction and therapy to regain the ability to speak and eat properly again. I eventually incurred daily multiple seizures that made functioning in my day-to-day life near impossible. My colleagues were overwhelmingly aware of the worsening of my disease. So they monitored my symptoms and any changes carefully for my safety, especially for days when I had too many seizures to comprehend what was happening or how bad I was.
Six years ago it was discovered that the other side of my jaw was following the same path. I was told it too would require reconstruction most likely within a year. Recovery would not be as successful as the first surgery as both sides would have muscle and nerve loss with titanium plates holding everything together. Therefore I would lose function with respect to speaking and eating solid food. By that point I was receiving monthly infusions of a biologic drug designed to kill off parts of my immune system and cells. However I continued to move deeper into the disease process and depression. Additional medications were introduced but only backfired making me and my condition worse, causing new symptoms and adding even more medications. It was a vicious cycle without relief.
By early 2013 I was told I would need to increase my medications further, file for disability, and stop driving. Instead I was introduced to a whole food plant based diet and found hope. My coworkers noticed a difference within the first week of me experimenting with this nutritional approach as it caused my seizures to drastically decrease. During the second and third weeks I was able to slightly lower the dosages of my medications (instead of the increases which had been suggested just weeks earlier). At one month I went for my next infusion, but it caused an immediate and severe set-back. My baseline had improved so significantly, that destroying parts of my immune system was not necessary anymore. So another one was not administered after April 2013.
I successfully avoiding the second surgery. I took my last dose of neuropathy and seizure medication October 2017 and the last of the other Lupus medications March 2018. I have maintained my 100% Lupus medication free status since then and only continue to become stronger and healthier as the days/weeks/months pass. In August 2018 I was able to gently ease into a high intensity interval training program. By November 2018 I was entered into a rowing challenge and was the first female at my fitness center to finish.
Only five to six years ago I was being prepared for an increasing downward spiral, with my family and friends preparing for the same. Now I am not only still alive, I thrive. I have the honor and privilege to be able to help others begin their wellness journeys. I can offer hope where I had none. I have been given the opportunity for a miraculous second chance at life and to continually pay it forward.
#reFocus #reFuel #reVive #reJoyce