When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I set out on a mission to heal myself naturally. I changed my diet to a mostly paleo regimen. I completely went gluten free. I did AIP or autoimmune paleo (strict paleo) for months. I added back foods at a slow pace. If any food didn’t agree with me, I gave it up. I tried to reduce my stress. I tried to get more sleep. I did everything I could to heal my failing body.
Within months of changing my diet and habits, I was able to completely heal my stomach ulcer and malar rash. My joint pain and arthritis was less bothersome. I stopped breaking out in hives every day. The rashes on my hands healed. I had more energy than I’d had in a long time. Had I actually quieted the beast?
Despite a couple of mishaps, like cross-contamination and re-introducing the wrong food, it’s been pretty much smooth sailing, until now. Last week, I was reminded my lupus is incurable. It was a realization that simply sucks. I’d be lying if I said I thought I’d never experience a severe autoimmune flare again. As humans, we always hope for the best. We hope for cures. We hope for recoveries. When reality strikes, there is no better way to say it other than, it sucks.
Early last week, I noticed the rash on my hands had come back with a vengeance. I also experienced pain in my elbows, radiating up and down my arms. The first thing I thought was to do an herbal liver cleanse. I started taking milk thistle, curcumin, alfalfa leaf, and dandelion root supplements. On Thursday, I brought Giddy to the vet for her comprehensive exam. They found a small cyst on her leg, which we had biopsied. Luckily, it was nothing serious. But, after hearing about it, and waiting for the results, my stress level shot straight up. By Friday, I was experiencing nausea and abdominal pain. I was suffering from serious reflux. Then, Saturday I felt fine. I cleaned the house, cooked dinner, and did everything I normally do. Later that night, my reflux was back. Sunday, I awoke to severe joint pain all over my body. I had a pounding headache and the nausea was overwhelming. I laid around, drinking liquids, in a fog all day. Early Sunday morning, the vomiting started. Everything I’d eaten or drank over the last few days was lost. My headache had increased to migraine level. I couldn’t even look at a photo of food without getting sick. That’s not good for a food blogger, like me. I kept myself on a liquid diet and got plenty of sleep. I was running a high temperature as well. Whatever this autoimmune flare was, it was kicking my butt.
That brings me to today. The nausea is gone, for the most part. My headache is at a manageable level. But, all is not well. I’m still having some digestion issues. I won’t go into detail; but, I’m still not able to return to my regular diet. I think you can figure that out on your own.
So, why am I telling you all this? Because I get so many people telling me things like, “What you’re doing is not working. You’re still getting sick.” These people have no idea what I went through before I changed my diet and lifestyle. And, I’m sick of all the people who make it seem like switching your diet to gluten free or paleo or whatever, means you’ll never get sick again. No one knows the severity of your autoimmune disease, but you. Perhaps it helped heal them entirely. That doesn’t mean that you will be healed entirely. You could suffer flares at any time, especially if you have a disease like lupus. Lupus attacks the body in so many organs and in so many different ways. It’s a tricky beast. At best, we can hope to tame it.
I hope you don’t think I’m being a downer. I made a promise, when I started this blog, to be truthful about my results. I wanted those of you who suffer from autoimmune disease to get accurate, real life information on diet and lifestyle change. If I pretended that things were always going well, I would be doing you a disservice.
Now, I don’t know what caused this autoimmune flare. It could have been the liver cleanse, cleaning bad things out; or, I could have picked up a bug at the vet’s office. Maybe, it was the stress of thinking my dog had cancer. Truth is, there was so much going on at the time, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what caused it. One day I was fine, the next, not so much.
This post is not meant to discourage you. In fact, it’s to do exactly the opposite. I am now more convinced that I am on the right track with my diet. How bad could this flare have been if I hadn’t been eating right? From experience, I know that it could have been a lot worse. I believe that my body has done less damage than it would have had I not been eating so healthy. I know my kidneys are still functioning well, despite the flare. I know my liver is recovering quickly. I have even been able to avoid the trip to the hospital this time. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. See, that’s real life encouragement.
I’m going to stay off of certain foods for a few days. Then, I’m going to go strict autoimmune paleo for a while, until I can get this flare under control. I’m thinking of trying the Whole 30 program. I’ll let you know when it’s a go. It’s pretty much how I eat right now anyway.
My recipes are going to be a little different for a bit of time. I’ll be focusing on more AIP paleo recipes. That’s good news for those of you with autoimmune disease. To start, I want to share my recipe for a wonderful liver and kidney healing juice. It’s the juice I’ve been making for myself during this flare. If you suffer from tummy troubles, this juice will help with reflux and indigestion. Remember to drink your juice while it’s fresh for the best absorption of vitamins.
If you suffer from a flare after changing your diet and lifestyle, don’t get discouraged. Sometimes, you can be doing everything right, and a flare still happens. We can’t always control the stresses in our life, or the bugs that attack us. But, we can control our attitudes and our actions. We are still healing. It takes time, hard work, and discipline. You are strong enough. How do I know? Because you’re reading this right now. People who aren’t strong enough to stick with the changes, would have stopped reading after the first couple of paragraphs. You obviously care about getting healthier. You, like me, will do what is necessary to get you there. Welcome!