Vanessa V

Vanessa V

Real Profiles of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Real-Profile-V-Vanessa
Photos © Vanessa V

Name?

Vanessa V

Age?

32

Location?

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

How long have you lived with RA?

5 years, but first flare up was limited to just my knees. Took a year to diagnose them, and after 2 years on hydroxychloroquine, I was declared in remission, and stopped taking the meds. UNTIL April 2011, flare up came back with a vengeance. Started in my lower back, and spread everywhere. Knees, ankle, wrist, entire left arm, jaw, neck and lower back. An MRI wasn’t able to confirm AS, but I do a form of seronegative RA. I am currently waiting ridiculously long for my rheumatologist appointment, so I decided take matters into my own hands.  I am also not a huge fan of pharmaceuticals anyways. So while I wait for my appointment, I am reading as much I can and about 2 months ago decided to try diet and alternative therapies. I stopped eating all meat except organic salmon, no dairy, no processed food, no white flour, no refined sugar, no nightshade veggies (tomato, eggplant, peppers), no fried foods, no vinegar, no spicy foods. I keep a list of my fridge called the “Terrible” list, and whenever I eat something that causes a reaction, it goes on the list. Reactions happen as quickly as 10-24 hours now. I ate a cupcake at a bridal shower and couldn’t move my entire right hand for a week. (NO MORE CUPCAKES!) Basically I eat fruit, veggies, nuts, organic yeast free rye bread, salmon and occasionally eggs. I juice everyday and take a pretty big lot of supplements (even more than i usually take). Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE food, but i decided that walking was a little more important. My diet doesn’t sound very exciting, but if it means my symptoms are easing up without drugs. I’m all in.  It took about 2 months, but i am 95% symptom free (bad days still exist, but not like they used to be), and am slowly starting back to my yoga practice, and even went for a run/walk last week. I’m not perfect, but I’m doing this DRUG free…for now.

What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?

Be patient. Find kindred spirits. Twitter has been a great place for connect with others who understand what you’re going through. Its nice to not have to explain myself  whats wrong with me over and over.

Do you use any mobility aids?

I have a cane, that i use when my knees get really inflamed. I haven’t had to touch it in almost two months!

How has living with RA helped to improve your life?

I am so much more patient now. I appreciate little things. I’ve also developed a new understanding of how food affects the human body.

Do you have any visible signs of RA?

Just really inflamed knees at the peak of a flare up.. And lately since my diet has been changed, I mostly get compliments on how great I look. Ha!

Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?

Music. On a bad day, turn up the music, and just lay and take it in. Also my yoga practice has helped me focus and meditate when I need it. I am also not afraid to cry if I have to. Always feel better mentally after a good cry.

Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?

Diet and acupuncture. I was on Voltaren at the peak of this flare up, but DRUG FREE for almost 2 months.

Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?

Being this sick has really given me a new appreciation for my family (have been AMAZING), my yoga practice (Ashtanga yogi over 2 years now), my ability to run again (not for very long, but I’ll get there) and my friends (who have been equally as amazing). Stay strong, don’t be afraid to make changes in your life. You may not see the results right away, but they will come.

14 Comments
14 comments
  1. Kary says:

    I’m so glad to find someone else who is going down the route of diet over drugs. I started with RA back in May and had to wait 3 months before seeing a rheumatologist, so I went to a specilaist clinic who work on rebuilding the immune system and the first step is eliminating those foods that trigger the symptoms. I’m 90% better than where I was at the beggining of this, it is in my knees, feet, shoulders, elbows, hands and wrists, but I can function again now, the pain has dropped to a 2 from a 10, and the stiffness the same except for in my hands which are struggling but I know now within an hour if I eat something on the forbidden list! So I stick to the diet which is now fish, veggies, fruit, nuts. The plus side is I’ve lost 3 stone!!
    The rheumatologist was appalled that I had and still want to pursue this approach and threatened me that I’d be crippled so it has taken me some weeks to recover from the shock of this bullying so I’m so relieved to find a kindred spirit. Thanks Vanessa

  2. Vanessa says:

    Hi! Thanks for all the kind words! Its been a bit of a struggle to find others who are willing to take matters into their own hands, so i agree,lovely to find kindred spirts! I don’t have a blog, but now am seriously considering one. Feel free to catch me on twitter @sesssa anytime. If i make a blog, i’ll be posting it there!

  3. Deb aka murphthesurf says:

    I hope you can overcome the ra with diet and wish you all the luck I can foster. I am halfway between traditional and nontraditional with my ra. I am on it for 13 years and have not been able to go completely drug free. Some have succeeded and I wish this for you! Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. carol says:

    im also going to change the diet approach i have been a giunea pig for twelve years with my ra some drugs have made really ill and as for weight loss bonus

  5. Kelly Carter says:

    I’m new to RA and researching what I can do to help myself. Can you please point me to reliable info on using diet to treat RA? And/or share with me what type foods you avoid? Like you, I love running, yoga, exercise, and being active. It crushes my spirit to think I might lose those things. I also want to minimize the amount of medication I take, if diet, exercise, guided imagery, etc. can help. Thanks in advance. Kelly

  6. Jeanine says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!! I’m brandy new at being diagnosed with RA. I had a terrible experience with a Rhumy Dr. I found an alternative Dr.and am taking a lot of supplements, as well as changing my diet. I thank you for sharing, I feel alone in not taking medication, I still have ups and downs and pain, but for me I have to go with what my heart is telling me. Thank you, it’s comforting to read that there are others trying alternatives. Grateful to all for sharing.

  7. Karrie says:

    It’s funny, I’ve had JRA since I was 12, and never thought to find others who were suffering from the same ilness. I’m now 30, and still suffer from JRA, even though doctors told me I would grow out of it…

    I am laying on the couch right now, with a bad flare in my left knee, and have been off work for two days. I just had my first session of acupuncure yesterday, but haven’t found much relief from it.

    Supplements I am currently using to try and bring this flare down:

    1. Ling Nam Ultra Balm – Topical rub similar to Tiger Balm
    2. Omega 3-6-9
    3. Probiotics 8
    4. Glucosamine Chondriotion with MSM
    5. Aleve – Naprosn
    6. Ester C with beta carotene, vitamin E & selenium
    7. Hemp Protein Fibre
    8. Vitamin D Drops
    9. Guanjie Zhenglong Ling

    The flare started Wednesday morning, went to work and by the time 5pm rolled around.. I was in tears and could hardly walk. I took Thursday off, went for my first ever acupuncture treatment. It was very swollen Thursday night, and almost looked worse than before I had the procedure done. This morning after taking a ton of supplements and resting.. I noticed the flare improving. The less I bear my weight on it, it seems to feel better as well.

    I’m hoping by tomorrow it’ll be almost cleared up. I have another acupuncture session tomorrow morning.. wish me luck and thanks for your wonderful website and supporters for their words. It really does help me understand I’m not alone.

    This hit me like a ton of bricks “Its nice to not have to explain myself whats wrong with me over and over.” This always seems to be the hardest part for me.. I am sick of people saying “Oh,but you’re so young…why do you have arthritis?” I just want to scream and shout by saying “You fool, there are over 100 types of arthritis known to medical science. Do you know what MS is? Do you know what Lupus is? Do you understand what autoimmune diseases are? Your ignorance is driving me nuts.”

    -Karrie Gomes
    Vancouver, BC
    Age: 30

  8. Lauren says:

    Hi Vanessa

    Thanks for sharing! We have similar stories And I am managing mine holistically

    Yoga centre Toronto has special 1:1 classes thurs at 4:30 to help with Ra. It’s amazing!

  9. Holly says:

    Heya.
    Reading your profile has really helped me and given me faith in having RA. It’s really interesting because I controlled my RA with diet, I just stopped dairy and eggs, and it was amazing how well it helped. But now in on drugs now sadly. But it’s true what you say, and it’s now the quote of my life. ” I love food, but I need to be able to walk” I’m very similar with my knees and lower back, hips, shoulders and sometime elbows. I will be making my own profile in a little bit. X

  10. susie says:

    I also got better from my RA by juicing carrot and apple every day.lots of water and vegetables. Gave up meat, milk and eggs and sugar. I am now without pain and free of RA. Some people do not believe me and get angry with me but I dont care as long as I am cured.

  11. Stacey says:

    Hi Vanessa,
    Seronegative myself. Diagnosed 1.5 years ago. Still sometimes a little in denial.

    Have altered my lifestyle by way of diet changes (removed gluten/wheat) and regular exercise (including yoga).

    Would love to chat more! Tried to use Twitter…but alas…I’m usless at it…hoping you get this :)

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