Only the Beginning

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

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Lisa Goodkind

The first question that I asked the consultant rheumatologist when he gave me the diagnosis that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis was “will I end up in a wheelchair?”

Many years before I had worked with a woman who had this long-term autoimmune disease and I remember her telling me that this was going to be her destiny. “Not if you take the drugs” he swiftly responded as he routinely doled out a leaflet and a prescription. And so ended the ten minute appointment that was to turn my life around and reshape my future.

That was 2 ½ years ago and I am now symptom free. No drugs.

My initial reaction was deep sadness, helplessness and a belief that my future was going to be very different from how I had imagined it to be. My symptoms had manifested in a noticeable way about 3 months before when I had begun to experience pain in my hands which were fixed in a claw-like position in the night and on waking. The pain had begun to spread to my toes, my wrists, my elbows and my knees.

That night I cried for a long time and then started to research the condition and ways that I might manage it. I spent the whole night on my computer and by the morning I had a plan. I was going to commit the next month to doing everything that I could possibly do to try and improve my symptoms – and I was not going to the pharmacy to get the prescription made up just yet.

That night I cried for a long time and then started to research the condition and ways that I might manage it.

My first point of research was to see if there was a Facebook group where I might find other sufferers, so that I could see what they were doing to help themselves. I was particularly inspired by one group in which the members were trying to heal themselves naturally.

From the next morning my new life begun. I went from being a pasta-eating carnivore to being plant-based. I stopped eating meat, dairy, gluten, sugar and various other inflammatory foods and started to gorge on organic and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. My morning cappuccino was replaced with celery and other juices galore. My family were incredibly supportive, and my husband and twins all became vegan overnight to support me with my new protocol (this lasted about a month, but I was hugely appreciative of their efforts).

My body’s reaction to my change in eating habits was incredible. Within a week my hands started to unfurl and my pain began to retreat.

When I saw another rheumatologist a month later, I was already feeling about 80% better. The rheumatologist said that I should still take the drugs, however at that point I had no intention of doing that as I was firmly committed to forging ahead with my own recovery plan. I told everyone around me that I was healing myself and I would get better. From a supposedly irrecoverable disease.

During the two years that followed I engaged in a fierce and unwavering determination to heal myself and I became an avid researcher. I committed to try something new each week to try and help myself. I addressed every aspect of my physical being, life, lifestyle and spirit during that time. After a few months I decided to embark upon training in nutritional therapy and then functional medicine (a system of medicine that looks to heal using natural means and addresses causes rather than symptoms).

This year I hope to qualify in both modalities and to start practicing so that I can help others with chronic health conditions.

While experiencing the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis was painful and upsetting, I have found the experience to be incredibly enlightening and I feel profoundly grateful to have been thrust in a direction where I will be able to help other people who find themselves in a similar situation. Because when something feels like ‘the end’, it really might be only ‘the beginning.’

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