As some of you may know I was diagnosed with a form of arthritis called palindromic rheumatism a couple of months ago. It wasn’t an easy diagnosis to come to terms with but it’s a problem that I am determined to deal with as best as I can.
Initially I had to await blood tests to find out the likelihood of it turning into rheumatoid arthritis before I could be given a treatment plan. I waited nervously for ten days and when the call came I cannot tell you the relief I felt to find out that my blood marker was not indicating any signs of rheumatoid at present. How blessed I felt that day! The other big relief for me was that this meant I could avoid taking a drug called Methotrexate which is a very heavy duty drug which can cause other serious health concerns. Although all medication aimed at arthritis does seem pretty powerful stuff, at the least the one I have started on apparently has slightly less side effects..
With this in mind I have been determined to see if I can get on top of my condition with my diet. “If Deliciously Ella can do it then surely I can?” is the approach I am taking! The medication I am on takes four months to show any signs of improvement so I decided that if I start a new diet, eliminating as many inflammatory foods as possible, then I will be able to see if there is any improvement before the drugs kick in. Now if you have ever looked at a google list of inflammatory foods then you will probably understand the brain-spasm I suffered as I attempted to work out just how much I was going to have to give up.
Caffeine. Alcohol. Dairy. Gluten. Yep, thats right, I have given them all up!!
Everyone I have told has been slightly horrified by my approach and one friend even say, “Whats the point of getting up in the morning?”. Well, I am pleased to tell you that this diet is not quite as bad as I thought it would be, in fact, I’m actually quite liking it. The picture above for instance is a Madeline Shaw recipe for beetroot bread. Toasted and smeared with avocado and a little balsamic glaze it is really delicious. It’s packed with all kinds of goodness and I actually get a kind of high from knowing that I am boosting my body with such nutrient packed food. Sorry if I am being annoying!
The question now is, is it working? The way my rheumatism works is that it comes and goes and these are called flare ups. For a lot of people a flare might only last 15 minutes and happen once a month, but then there are some of us (like me!) who have flare ups that overlap one another, which means that my flare ups can last three or four weeks. A flare up comes on slowly. I start to feel a niggle in my foot or a stiffness in my hands and within a few days its in full swing. So in the first week of my diet I could feel that horrid niggling feeling coming into my feet. And so I waited. And I waited. And I waited. Yet that niggling feeling did not get any worse. By the end of the week my fingers were beginning to get stiff. Holding a book whilst reading in bed was uncomfortable and a bit achy. I know the signs, so I waited, and I waited, and I waited. But it also did not progress. I was so delighted and excited, I honestly thought that I must have cracked the whole problem and could maybe even stop the medication!
But then the second week came and that is when I took the photo above of my hand. One night about nine days in my knuckles suddenly started burning, they quite literally felt like I was being branded. I was so upset I felt like crying. I kept shoving them in front of my long suffering husbands face whilst saying, “Look at them! Look at them!” He really does get the brunt of my emotional baggage! As we hunkered down to watch The Crown I prepared to accept my fate for the next three weeks, when something quite remarkable happened. It stopped. Literally, just like that, it stopped. The redness went away and the pain went away-that was 6 days ago now.
Now as you know, my many every day thoughts do often drift back to issues of human rights and injustice!
How Amy can you link THIS back to human rights I hear you ask yourselves?!
The thing is, it’s not so much about the food and my arthritis but the method I have been using to deal with it that gives me cause to ponder. We all have different food tastes and we all react to foods differently. I have been tested for both coeliac’s disease and lactose intolerance and I have neither, yet my new diet suggests that without both I am a healthier person. The medication that I take is a completely different approach because the same drug at the same dose can be given to patients with different symptoms and different severity. It is a blanket approach that may work but that does not deal with the inner workings of the problem*. Yet the change in my diet seems to be healing my body right from the inside out and whilst it is not perfect, it is a massive improvement after just two weeks.
This is exactly the approach that organisations such as the UN and International Justice Mission take to dealing with the arthritis of our world. Human trafficking and slavery is a sickness our world suffers from and right now it is raging. It has flare ups that overlap one another and so present themselves as a chronic condition that seems insurmountable. It would be really tempting to go in, save the day and then leave again-job done! Rescue those children from the clutches of evil, send them back home and then look for more children to save. But this would be like taking my medication. The same dose for different people with different symptoms. It does what it says on the tin but it is not a personal approach and it doesn’t get to that root problem. It does not look at the individual in the matter and what I mean by that is not just the individual sufferer but the individual country where the problem is taking place. The problem of human slavery and trafficking often lies within the country at hand and its lack of a good infrastructure to provide a decent law enforcement, educated in these areas of persecution and empowered to stand up to the problem. But IJM and the UN work with the determination to change infrastructures and to provide support to countries that need help to bring these changes about.
Yes IJM does rescue children and provide them with aftercare and support to get through the trauma they have experienced, but they also work at a much deeper level to bring around change from the inside. It is in fact not an insurmountable problem, not if everyone is aware, not if people provide their support, not if we choose to learn and understand. Thats why the Sustainable Development Goals are so important too, because they are resolved to coming along side countries that are suffering and help them from the top of the government chain all the way down to the police on the streets. The same with IJM. They build relationships, they work with people on the inside, the work to re-educate and empower.
So in answer to my first question, yes the beetroot bread really is working! And the UN and IJM really are working too.
*I am not suggesting that anyone should not take their doctor prescribed medication nor suggesting that it cannot work, I am personally reflecting upon my own experience and thoughts to the problem.