My name is Victoria, and I’m 23 years old and have Lupus and Fibromyalgia, both conditions that are difficult to treat. I’m a Technical Writer for a mortgage company and love all aspects of writing. In addition to writing, I love music and play piano, drums, and sing. Creativity and being active are important for me, so the effects of these disorders can be life-changing at times. The pain and discomfort I experience during flare-ups trigger depression, causing me to lose interest in the things I love. I simply close off from the world.
I was diagnosed with both disorders when I was 18. In April of 2016, I became sick and experienced severe joint and muscle pain and swelling. The pain became so intense I had difficulty moving and doing daily tasks. Luckily, my primary care doctor knew my mother has lupus and suggested testing for lupus antibodies. Once the results came back positive, she referred me to a rheumatologist for further steps.
While the diagnosis wasn’t something I was happy to hear, I feel that my mom’s experience with it prepared me more for having to live a life with lupus. While I knew I could not treat lupus, I knew I could learn how to cope with it. My first visit with the rheumatologist was in August 2016. During this visit, the doctor strongly recommended I take medication to control my lupus, even though it wasn’t active at that time, and I hadn’t had any issues since April.
My mom had taken this same medication before and also knew others who had. She and her friends all experience negative side effects. One of them even lost their eyesight because of it (a side effect the doctor had already warned me about). I decided to skip the medication and seek out other treatment options.
My parents and I began researching alternative medicine and found many articles on Chinese medicine and the benefits it has on autoimmune disorders. We then found a Chinese herbalist near us. We were interested in learning as much as we could and visited the office for a consultation. I described my diagnoses, symptoms, and additional health issues I had (PCOS and digestion issues following gallbladder removal). She explained that I would follow a strict diet for one month while also taking herbal supplements she and her father designed. This diet included many vegetables and leafy greens, no sugars, no red meat, only eating brown rice, and drinking tea three times per day.
This diet change was difficult at first, but I quickly found myself having fun re-creating my favorite meals to fit the guidelines I was given. In the middle of the month, I found I had more energy and felt better overall. My digestive issues calmed down and I felt that I had control of my life. In September 2016, I returned to my rheumatologist and had the same bloodwork done as my previous visit. My results had drastically improved, and I continued feeling healthy and energetic even after my next flare-up in October 2016. In addition, any digestive issues I experienced were completely gone for the next six months. And while I won’t cure my lupus and fibromyalgia, I felt I was finally able to treat the symptoms.
Since this experience, I have been a firm believer in alternative medicine. I choose to only take medicine when I feel it’s absolutely necessary, such as when a flare-up has already started. While I currently do not follow the same diet that I did in September 2016, I find that when I eat more natural and wholesome foods, I feel better and can manage my disorders much better – even when having a minor flare-up. This success with alternative medicine even led me to seek out massage therapy and reiki to help manage my fibromyalgia and migraines.
My advice to anyone suffering from life-altering disorders is to try alternative medicine, even if just a few times. Since my success with alternative medicine, I have been a strong advocate for it. So much, that I am always happy to discuss and enlighten others that I talk with. In fact, at the time of writing this, I need to take my own advice and become more consistent in following the practices that led to me feeling healthier and in control.
Experiencing alternative medicine can provide you with a completely different outlook on your disorder, eating, and health in general. While you may be aiming to improve one aspect of your life, you may end up improving multiple through alternative medicine and additional knowledge you gain through this experience. The best part? No negative and potentially harmful side effects – just natural healing and relief.
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