Ten years after I was first diagnosed with RA, everything shifted again. The RA came back with a vengeance. This time, three fingers, not just one became swollen and pain was extending into my wrists. My hips and knees hurt so bad, climbing the stairs in my apartment became a chore. My hands became so weak, I could barely turn a door knob and I learned to carry grocery bags hanging on my arms instead of in my hands. Getting up in the morning was slow. Once I got up and around, it seemed to ease, but those first moments were tough. I couldn’t lift my legs to the side more than 30 percent and I was in constant pain. I was eating over the counter NSAIDs like they were candy. I felt drained all the time. It got so bad at one point, I ended up in the emergency room because I could not open or close my hands. They were frozen in a relaxed curve position. They couldn’t find anything wrong with the structure of my hands and gave no real answers. I was given pain meds and told to see my doctor. I couldn’t process it and I was scared.
I had prayed. I had fasted. I had enlisted every prayer warrior I knew and anyone who would pick up a phone through prayer ministries. I trusted God. I moved when he said move. I studied every day to show myself approved. I spoke healing into myself daily. I was sowing seed. I had changed. According to what I understood of scripture, I was doing it. So many questions. With every level of understanding came even more endless questions and lack of understanding. Why??? And with no family history. Why???
I went to a naturopathic doctor. In his most valiant attempt to help me, I was placed on methotrexate, in addition to supplements that were deemed necessary to bring my body into balance. What happened next sent me spirally into depression. My hair started falling out. Every time I combed it. Every time I washed it. Hair fell out by the handfuls. I was ready to go off the grid. I know, I know. Bald is beautiful and some people pull it off just fine. I was not one of those people. A woman’s hair is her crown and I demanded mine be given back to me. On top of that, all the tests results showed I was malnourished and deficient in many vital nutrients my body needed to heal and be healthy—my body was not absorbing the extra supplementation I was taking. Trips to the doctors and question after question brought no discernable breakthroughs. Was I really willing to risk my health for the sake of hair?? My heart sank and I stayed in the throne room seeking answers and cure. I was more than overwhelmed.
I looked into wigs, hair toppers and clip-on extensions and gained a real education regarding the world of hair, but everything I looked into didn’t look natural to me—it wasn’t my hair. Through friends, I was referred to an angel who told me about natural hair extensions. I took a deep breath and took the plunge. After about five hours, and a lot of pain, she was done. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had hair—full, thick hair. I also had a lot of metal brads all over my head that hurt like heck, but I had hair! Joyful jubilation does not describe how I felt. I was told I could keep them about six months and then I would have to have them taken out. The hope was that my hair would grow back during this time and no one would be the wiser.
Zeal. That’s what I needed. Zeal in my life. I’m not talking about the need of passion for living, I’m talking about a powder you mix with your favorite drink. It provides all your daily vitamins plus loaded with antioxidants and is absorbed in your body 100 percent. The best part—it is made from all whole foods. No chemicals. The Lord told me, “Do it.” I quickly responded to the Lord with, “No. I don’t want to do it.” I was working on my third year of school of ministry, the ordination level, and I walked through my living room explaining to the Lord how I realized how long it took for me to get to this point and I wasn’t going to allow anything to hinder my accomplishing this that he had called me to do. Besides, I had been in other self-employment marketing adventures and I knew how much work was involved in making it work, and I simply didn’t have much extra time. So, I stood on my “No,” being sure I was making the right choice. Sigh…
The Lord didn’t give up. He said, “Try it.” So, I ordered a month’s supply. Wow. It actually tasted good. For the first time in almost two years, I could actually get through my day without feeling like I would fall out. So, I did it. You know, the thing the Lord told me to do when he said “Do it.” I signed up.
A few months later, right after I finished the school of ministry, I awoke to an amazing discovery. I was able to get out of bed with ease of movement. I could stand up without having to push myself out of bed. I was walking around without pain. I had begun to open doors without any hindrance and just to make sure I was actually experiencing the miracle my mind wanted so desperately to believe, I lay down on the floor and started to do leg lifts. I could actually do it. I was finally able to lift my legs with full range of motion. I began dancing before the Lord. I had indeed experienced a miracle and I wanted the world to know just how much zeal this Zeal gave me. I was also finally able to shed a few extra pounds that had accumulated due to my inability to exercise. Prior to this, my body would not absorb everything I had tried in order to obtain good health. But my body absorbed the Zeal and with amazing results. I’m so glad I listened to the Lord and “did it.”
Then the Lord spoke to me again and told me leave the course of treatment I was on and go to a different doctor, a rheumatologist, who came highly recommended. I stayed on the methotrexate for a little while longer, while some of the other medications were discontinued. My hair was still not growing. Then, there was another shift. My hands and knees started aching again. The methotrexate wasn’t working. But, this time I knew I was where I needed to be. My doctor recommended Humira. As it was presented to me, it would not only stop the progression, it was showing evidence of reversing the disease process. But, it was yet another very strong immunosuppressant. So many variables. So many unknowns, but I was ready.
Gradually, I could tell a major difference in my symptoms. The flareups had slowed greatly. The more I talked with this doctor, the more he confirmed what my journey of discovery had revealed to me. He confirmed medical science had proven celiac disease can cause RA. I told him I had been on a strict gluten free diet for about five years at that point. (For those who are sensitive, gluten becomes undigestable and causes an erosion in the lining of the gut. After some time, this can lead to what is called leaky gut. When this happens, the body does not absorb nutrients and the doors are wide open for disease. Interestingly, as in my case, your body knows you’re sensitive before you do.) I was sure I was on my way to the cure. I was able to discuss each symptom with him and he didn’t brush it off or make me feel as if I was unable to grasp the vastness of the disease process or the necessity for compliance with the proper treatment suggestions. After two years of struggling, the lab tests were coming back with better values and my hair actually started growing back some. It is not yet fully restored, but at least now I don’t have to wear extensions to look like I have a full covering of hair.
There was still one thing I had not fully grasped. Why did the knuckles on my hands become inflamed every time I ate something with moderate carbs or every time I ate a few nuts?? Every. Time.
The search continued. I had tweaked my diet to mostly vegan, only some meat occasionally, and vegetables. I had even stopped eating bread for the most part and if I indulged in a “treat” I made sure it was sugar free and gluten free. Okay, I’d be lying if I said I never ate anything with sugar, but it was rare. Then it happened. Everything seemed to fall in line with clarity and understanding.
I ate one fruit juice gummy bear. I do mean only one. Not two or three, just one single yummy gummy. Immediately, my wrists and the palm of my right hand began to itch. Too incredible for words. This also happened when I drank my organic whole foods vegan protein powder with rice protein base. Something was very wrong. “What’s going on now, Lord?” I knew I had developed a wheat allergy due to the instant swelling of my tongue, tingling in my lips and nasal congestion. Had I now become allergic to everything I eat?? I was not a happy camper and being on this rollercoaster was making my heart sick.
I did what I learned to do. I began to fast and pray. I had to get to the bottom of what was going on. No matter the questions I asked or the research I was doing, I was not coming to the end of this.
The Lord, so lovingly, reminded me of the years that have gone by and how he told me not to eat corn, white starches, wheat, sugar and with precise clarity told me not to eat more than the equivalent of two pieces of fruit in sugar containing foods on a daily basis. Any more than this would not be healthy for me. These all represent carbohydrates. (Watch out! Sugar free does not always mean carb free. Read and understand food labels.) All of which cause inflammation in the body (increased inflammation sets the stage for disease.) The Lord then led me to look back through my medical records. I finally found it. I had allergy testing done about 15 years earlier (three years before I was diagnosed with RA) and low and behold, it showed I was highly allergic to candida. Candida. Unreal. I didn’t even know what candida was until a few years ago. The sugar effect that carbohydrates produce in your body feed the gut fungus called candida. Wow.
Basically, by God’s grand design, my body is allergic to the effects of every sugar-causing food known to mankind. I know God has a great sense of humor, but come on now. This is crazy. Seriously?? Obedience is better than sacrifice. Case and point.
Thank you, Lord. Yep.
Autoimmune disease. A compromised immune system. I reasoned, with over 70 percent of our immune system in our gut, there has to be a connection with autoimmune diseases and gut health. The vastness of medical science and God’s knowledge and wisdom is inexhaustible. Thank God for advancements in medical science. I thank God more because of his great love for his children. I thank God even more because of the intimate way he is so personal with each of us. God never leaves us in the dark…if we are willing to listen to him.
Scripture says, “Know that wisdom is for your life and soul; if you find wisdom, then there will be a future and a reward, and your hope and your expectation will not be cut off.” Proverbs 24:14 (AMP). Everything is possible for those willing to believe.
Today, I’ve adopted the Paleo way of eating, and have added a good probiotic and digestive enzymes. For me, it works. No more itching all over.
I think back so long ago when I was first diagnosed. I still refuse to accept a life sentence of debilitation. My journey of discovery with knowledge and understanding will continue until the day I am face to face with my God in heaven. But this I know, no matter what twist or turn may come to me or try to come against me, I know I will never travel the road alone. My God, my father, my confidant, my savior, my redeemer, my healer, my peace, my joy, my righteousness and my best friend who will never leave me or forsake me, even until the end of the age. As long as there is breath in my body, I will serve the Lord. I will go where he tells me to go, when he tells me to go, and to the best of my ability and with great humility serve those to whom he leads me.
Be alert. Be aware. Never give in. Never give up. I’m learning that trust does not always mean we will have a clear explanation given to us. That really wouldn’t be trust, would it? God is my creator, and he knows me best, every cell in my body—best. I will follow him. He is indeed the light and the life in me.
My prayer is that you glean hope from my story. Hope in that God is not distant. God is not complacent. God is not sitting up in heaven waiting for just the right moment to whack you upside the head with his scepter of justice for every little mistake you make. God is good and he does care about us and for us. God does heal us. Sometimes, it is miraculous. Sometimes, it is a process. Either way, God has made provision for us at each pass, connection and interchange. Through it all, God is good. I look forward to the day I will wake up and the tests say “No more RA!” One day there will be a reckoning. I choose to take up arms and take back what has been stolen from me and I do so on behalf of others as well. I choose to hold on to God’s promises for us. I choose to see myself as God sees me, and that is healed of the Lord. I choose to hope and never give up.
May God bless you on your journey.