I've been sick for quite a few years now. It started about 4 years ago, or at least that's when it was becoming unbearable and my doctor could no longer chalk it up to bad posture or a physically challenging career, but I wasn't very vocal about it until about a year ago when I FINALLY received a diagnosis. I didn't want to burden anyone with my negativity, and for me the "unknown" was too terrifying for "think positive" to work, especially after so many years. As soon as I got my answer my whole life began to shift and I've been slowly getting back to myself ever since. Like I said, it's been about a year now that I've known I have a rare-ish Autoimmune Disease called Axial Spondyloarthropathy. Basically, my body is attacking itself, just like any other autoimmune disease, but the attack in my case is being focused heavily on my hips and spine and I already have permanent damage that isn't usual for my age. It's also attacking my digestive system, my lungs, my skull, and likely other spots, only time will tell. The thing is, "it is what it is". I know that gets overused a lot but in this case it's the truth. I can only take care of myself to the best of my ability and then the rest is out of my hands. Does this run in my family? Everyone asks. No. I could sit and think of all the reasons why; the air, the food, the chemicals, the pollution, and on, and on, and on ... but it won't serve me in a positive way so I just don't. It is what it is.
The hardest challenge for me was trying to cope and keep up with my work as an artist. Some may not realize that painting highly detailed work is incredibly hard on your neck, spine, and shoulders. I certainly don't blame my doctor for thinking that was the issue because it is common for artists to be stiff and sore. So just imagine throwing my bone/inflammatory disease into the mix. It's insane. I have experienced pain that made me want to curl up into a ball and cease to exist. It sounds dramatic because it is. I love life and I am truly blessed but sometimes certain amounts of pain can just push you beyond your mental limits. But I digress, because you know what, I have "OK" days too. And lately I've been having "I feel like a normal sore person" days and that's beyond exciting! How did this improvement happen?
I do a lot of things to maintain my disease as best I can. It's not as simple as drinking apple cider vinegar.
~ I Stretch CONSTANTLY. People always said "do yoga", and I get it, but I needed certain specific stretches for my body, and now that I've found the most effective ones, I've got a great routine going and it works for me. I love my stretches so much, and I truly believe they would help any artist or person with a similar affliction to mine, I plan to someday make a video to share them with everyone.
~ I also cut many things out of my Diet and that had a tremendous effect. These foods are not poison to everyone. If you're not sick and it somehow offends you that I can't eat things; check yourself. Some people CAN'T eat the things you can. If you suffer and you want to try cutting some things out of your diet I suggest: 1. Dairy 2. Refined Sugar 3. Wheat 4. Eggs 5. Citrus Fruit 6. All Starch. Start with just one at a time, at least two week intervals, and see for yourself what things make you inflamed or give you digestive issues and sinus issues. Dairy absolutely is poison for me. The others I can tolerate (not be instantly sick) but only in small amounts and at spread out intervals.
~ Another part of my regime is Acupuncture and Chiropractics. When I first started going I could barely rotate my neck or hips. I was stuck. My bones very rarely adjusted at all until I started doing Acupuncture before my Chiro adjustments. I really believe Acu allowed the Chiro to actually work. It's been almost two years and many of my bones crack on their own or when I stretch. It's not all that's needed but man it feels so good. I can pretty much fully rotate my head from side to side now which is amazing. I used to have a hard time bathing myself .... now I can kneel down and paint in all sorts of positions. It's amazing. :)
~ A VERY important thing I did was see a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. I feel absolutely no shame at all when I say I needed help coping with my new life with this disease. This was the second time a therapist would change my life for the better. I won't rant too much about mental health but I will say that if you have a physical disease your thoughts and feelings will impact that disease intensely. It's common knowledge, or at least it should be, that the mind effects the body and likewise. So if you believe you're struggling with anything at all mentally you should consider talking to a professional and work through anything you've got weighing on you. It's fueling your physical disease. I am by no means saying if you fix your mental struggles you'll be cured. All I'm saying is that relieving your mind of things that don't serve you will help you better cope with your physical disease and may even lessen the severity of some of your symptoms ... maybe even take some away! For example, I have lung issues and digestive issues which are part of my disease. When I'm stressed or depressed those issues are magnified. When I'm feeling content I rarely notice those symptoms. I only ask that you consider it because if you give it all you've got it could change your life forever.
~ All of these four things greatly improved my life and my condition but I was still in a terrible amount of pain and was filled with inflammation. I reached out to my sister who is more into science and medicine than me and she sent me this ARTICLE about a woman who was treating her disease, the same as mine, with Apple Cider Vinegar.
"It seems vinegar was suggested by Margaret Hills, back in the 1950s, in her book about inflammatory arthritis. From her nursing training, she understood that inflammation is a build up of acid. It’s the acid that gradually damages our joints if we don’t get rid of the inflammation. She also knew that when you consume [apple cider] vinegar, it becomes alkaline in the body. So her theory was that the alkaline vinegar would neutralize the acidic inflammation. Lots of people with all kinds of inflammatory arthritis have found relief this way, thanks to her book on the topic."
It seems too good to be true ... but It Freaking Works, guys! I'm not a doctor or a scientist but I can say without a doubt that it really works for me. I started with the Reinhart's doing 2 table spoons in a cup of room temp water 4-6 times a day until that bottle was gone. Then I purchased the Bragg brand as I'd heard it was created for medical reasons. Before I was done this bottle I was down to 1 table spoon in room temp water 3-4 times a day and I was feeling much less pain. I will warn that although some people experience relief within days, it took me about 3-4 weeks. So be patient. After not much time at all, a few days maybe, I did notice that my digestive system was working properly again and I felt much less bloated and irregular. I should also mention that I sip it through a straw so that my teeth don't get damaged or stained. It's worth a try just for the digestive benefits alone! I've also tried the Omega Nutrition brand and it seemed to have similar effects but was much more sour and a little harder on my stomach. My preferred brand is Bragg and I will attest to the fact that "with the Mother" is a very important quality. I notice much more pain relief when the vinegar comes "with the Mother". I was determined to feel better so I started with a large amount. If you're feeling unsure try starting small and working your way up to a dose that keeps you at a tolerable amount of pain.
When I first started feeling the effects of the Apple Cider Vinegar I wanted to shout it from the rooftop but I told myself I better wait to be SURE of it's personal benefits to me and my disease. It's been SIX MONTHS and the pain relief is even more effective than ever before. Am I pain free? No, never. I still feel pain. Some days I still feel a lot of pain. I still have week long or sometimes two week long episodes but they are few and far between now. On average, when all six months are weighed in the balance, I have much much less pain and that's worth celebrating. Before November, when I started using the Apple Cider Vinegar, I literally could not remember what it was like to live a day without major pain. Now I feel I have days when I'm just a normal person with a sore back or shoulders from working hard. People who don't suffer may not understand, but that's seriously amazing to me.
If you have an arthritic or inflammatory disease you may want to consider the idea. If you do happen to give it a try, or have tried it in the past, feel free to comment and let me know how it goes/went! I wish you all nothing but good health, happiness, success, and love in your life. :)