Seven years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition (Undifferentiated connective tissue disease – UCTD). UCTD is condition that attacks body tissue and causes pain and fatigue; this disease can be very painful and disabling.
Side effects of the drugs to treat my condition could be quite unpleasant. The main drug being taken was on was an immune suppressant. Taken with this drug was a large dose of folic acid to help the side effects. The decision being faced was a very difficult one. Which seemed to be either to be unwell or take the medication and suffer the side effects.
Not for one minute would I suggest anyone should go down the same path that I have chosen to take. It is important to take sound advice from a qualified medical doctor. Choosing to decide to stop prescribed medications was an informed one and fully took into account the pros and cons of the decision. The doctors consulted appreciated my view and spelt out the risks of my chosen path. The doctors also explained that returning to the medication might have to be an option if things deteriorated.
August last year I bumped into a friend who had previously been unwell and was looking amazing so healthy, she was glowing and radiant. I commented on how well she looked and she told me that she was consulting with a local naturopath. Intrigued I asked for more information and as a result booked an appointment with the Naturopath.
I went to see the Rosa Medica Clinic last September and have not looked back since. It was a totally different approach to managing health and one that needed to be thought about carefully. My GP was consulted and we talked through the approach being proposed. A full discussion was had with both GP and the Rheumatology clinic. Both clinicians helped to lay out the pros and cons.
In the beginning it was quite a hard journey with several life changes being made. Things became easier as the months went on. What surprised me most was that my condition could be managed by diet, supplements, herbs and some other treatments. Some days I did not feel as well as others. I did get such days when on the medication as well, however these off days are not as bad as the side effects of the medications from the NHS.
Going down the complimentary health route is not a cheap option but a financial sacrifice worth it for a better quality of life. Many people who take the same medication prescribed by the NHS as myself have have very little side effects. Sadly I just seem to be one of those people who suffer from side effects from medication. This is not the case with every drug I am prescribed however there seem to be quite a few that I am sensitive to.
One of the things that have helped me on my chosen path has been mindfulness. On bad days mindfulness has certainly helped me to ride through pain and discomfort. In the early weeks mindfulness certainly helped me cope with withdrawing from prescribed medication.
I have practiced mindfulness for a number of years and have learnt to listen to my body. Maybe this is one of the reasons that I felt that I had had enough of how the prescribed medications made me feel. Once I began to clear it out of my system I felt more alive. This may seems a strange thing to say. The medication may have damped down my immune system but it seems to damp me down too.
I have to be honest I was nervous about what I was doing to begin with. I had to be mindful to stay in the moment and go with the flow. It is easy to slip into negative mode and get locked into the “what if” loop. Things needed to be tested out and to see where the journey went.
Within a few months my blood tests were indicating things were good, much to the surprise of medics. In fact my blood tests were better off the meds than on them. Friends and family began to comment on how well I was looking and how much happier and content I was.
The journey has been an interesting one and has proved to me yet again the power of being in the moment. Mindfulness has been such a powerful thing for me in my life. It has taught me to listen to my body, to respect what my body is telling me and to be aware of the signs my body gives me.
The signs of stress and how to recognise familiar to me. Stress can certainly cause a flare of my condition. Being mindful is how I manage my pain by breathing through it and not focusing in on it. I know it will pass. It is easy to look for things that are not there or to expect negative things to occur. Practicing mindfulness helps me to stay in the moment and go with the flow.
At the time of writing eleven months have passed and I feel so much better both mentally and physically. I feel that I have my bounce back and most of all do not have to endure three days of feeling bad due to drug side effects.
Being honest this was a scary journey in the beginning by deciding to let go of the treatment of over three years. The support of the GP and Rheumatology clinic that are working with me and respect the decision I made has been amazing. I will continue to go with the flow and discover where this journey takes me. Learning to live with my condition by being in the moment certainly does help me to manage and ride through the tough days as well as enjoy the good and ok days.