A little over a year ago I decided to follow the advice given in a book as to how to treat my arthritis without drugs. In this post I declare my intention of trying this practice for a full year as there are no quick fixes. I am pleased to report that although I have not stuck tightly to all the aspects of the regime I have been fully consistent with many of them, and I have adapted others in the light of new information gleaned along the way.
An important point to note is that I was lucky enough to be able to try this experiment since I wasn’t really on any serious medication to have to give up. In fact all my life I have done my best to avoid taking up offers of drugs so compared to many other people with Stills Disease or similar related conditions I have only taken relatively small or infrequent prescriptions of drugs such as cortisone, prednisolone, methotrexate and celebrex. The one drug which I have relied on heavily through six decades is aspirin. I count myself fortunate to some extent that the modern drugs now offered to patients just weren’t available during my younger years. Nowadays current thinking and practice is to treat the onset of Stills Disease agressively with drugs to prevent joint damage. I certainly have suffered joint damage, and in the end lost the sight in one eye on account of my Stills Disease, but apart from that I have been fortunate to have lived a relatively healthy and productive life into my sixties. I was a schoolteacher (albeit part-time) for more than twenty years) and I have been blessed with a healthy son and two grandchildren.
When I was younger, a student facing my first major operation on my knee, I used to explain to people about the cause being my ‘arthritis’ and I used to always maintain, “at least it doesn’t kill you”. Sadly I was wrong in this belief. When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties I was aware that I’d had a diagnosis of Stills Disease as an infant and that the condition was related to Rheumatoid Arthritis but I wasn’t often or hardly aware much of the time of symptoms other than those that more related to osteo-arthritis. It was all the same to me, in my mind I was just more susceptible to ‘wear-and-tear’ damage.
Only very recently as a result of interaction via the internet have I come to understand the full scope and awful potential of Stills Disease. About a year ago I made a friend online via Stills Disease. Her name was Laura and she wrote an erudite and highly informative blog about the Disease and the personal progress of her illness. Earlier this month the terrible news of her death reached the Stills community and this awful sudden ending of such a young and beautiful life has shocked me to the core. Hopefully her blog will stand in perpetuity as a useful source to others and a legacy to Laura. A memorial site for her has been created here.
Laura had tried just about every drug available and yet they couldn’t save her! I, on the other hand, have tried very few and yet I’ve lived to become a pensioner. It does make me wonder whether they have got it wrong and more research should be done into less agressive forms of treatment, more natural therapies and diet, for example. To me it makes more sense to nurture the body’s good cells to better help them resist the rogue destructive ones.
So I shall be sticking to my current diet/lifestyle in the hope of further or at least continuing improvement. Today we went swimming. The disabled changing facilities were in use so I had to manage on my own in the women’s changing room. A year ago no way could I have managed this. I do have a few concerns right now, one being swollen ankles. These have occurred before, but usually I can get rid of them with better application to my diet and exercise. Exercise is what I have been missing out on this last month, mainly due to the ongoing abysmal dark and wet weather. I am unable to potter around in the garden because of the mud and fear of slipping, and the damp doesn’t help my old bones. Visits to the swimming pool have been lacking due to other seasonal priorities, but are firmly back on the agenda for the new year.
I also have two more new ‘weapons’ in my armoury against Stills, both oriental in essence. I have been adopted as a recipient of long distance healing by a friend in Japan. I am grateful for this and keep an open mind. And on Thursday I am going for an initial session of the Chinese massage technique, Tuin Na. This came about as a result of reading this page and me then finding a local practioner. So I go forward into the New Year with thankfulness and optimism.