In my last post, I talked about finally being diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis. And it’s still a huge thing to wrap my head around, especially since I’ve made such dramatic changes in my health. I’ll admit- sometimes I just want to say forget this push to be healthy and order a pizza (especially from my faves in Chicago) or drench everything in bbq sauce!!! But reality sets in and I know the consequences later will not be worth it so I don’t.
And this autoimmune condition of Ankylosing spondylitis, or AS, has no cure according to the resources that I’ve read. Any condition that ends in “itis” is indicative of inflammation and this is an inflammatory condition of the spine. It can also affect other joint areas. There are secondary issues that can occur with AS such as uveitis, inflammation in your eye which I’ve written about too as I’ve had that multiple times starting in 2009. And the cause of AS? No one knows though it’s believed to start with a leaky or impaired gut.
AS makes you really stiff, especially if you sit for a long time. Movement helps AS a great deal but it’s hard because when you’re in pain, the last thing that you want to do is move around! Stretching and functional movement are helpful and research shows that water based exercises are great as these don’t impact the joints. So I got a referral for that! If left untreated, AS can also cause fusion in various areas with your bones and you lose alllll flexibility and range of motion! 🤯🤯
While no doctor has stated this, I think AS is why I developed severe osteoarthritis at such a young age. The doctors just ask why I developed it so early; 🤷🏽♀️ how would I know?? I’m not a doctor. But to be better informed, I ordered a couple of books that are written by doctors who also have AS. Unlike me, both of these doctors have a genetic marker that is often seen with AS. And both found out much earlier than I did in the progression of the condition.
The doctors’ books offer insight on how they manage AS naturally, now. Both had taken different medications and decided that they would move forward without the meds. That’s the level that I eventually want to get to. I’ve been approved to take a VERY expensive medication to help relieve the chronic inflammation that I have. I’m hoping that as I start implementing the doctors’ recommendations, I can work with my doctor to decrease the medication. I’m also going to continue to focus on healing my digestive system and will move in the direction of working with a functional doctor who specializes in these types of conditions. And since stress can play havoc on the gut too, I took up my health care system’s offer to speak to a counselor. My hope is to find ways to better manage stress. Whew! That’s a lot!!
But I’m hopeful! If you are interested in the books by the doctors mentioned, leave a comment and I’ll include them below!
About a month into my journey to feel better, I started taking pictures to chronicle my progress as the scale doesn’t always correlate to progress. And I still do it because the body dysmorphia is real! I may not see myself as the size that I started, but I also don’t see my current size the same way others do.
So …the left hand picture is from September 2018. I remember buying that shirt; I loved it! It was a size XXL from JCPenney. The picture on the right is from last week. I am going to a funeral and, as usual, most of my clothes are too big *sigh*. I live by a Gap factory store that has AMAZING prices so I headed there to find something appropriate. The sweater is a small 😱 I haven’t worn a small since 8th grade while running track! The skirt is a size 8, both by banana republic 😱 I don’t ever remember wearing anything below a size 9. I’m always amazed when I see these comparisons.
And as you can see, I still have a knee sleeve on as my right knee continues to be a challenge. That day, I had gotten steroid shots in both knees so I’m still researching ways to improve joint health and minimize inflammation and arthritis. I plan to start the autoimmune protocol (AIP) in January to continue to reduce inflammation and figure out what triggers I may have.
I’m also focusing on gut health and started a new probiotic that is supposed to be great. With all the research available about the gut and the need for bacterial diversity to support health, I’m hoping that the probiotic, along with continued modifications, will help. And on most days, I aim for 5-6 servings of veggies and 1-2 servings of fruit along with protein; I eat a good deal of fish. All of this is a change from then to now.
Let me know what changes you’ve made and seen in your health. And any tips to reduce inflammation are great appreciated! To your good health…
I found out about Apple cider vinegar (acv) around 2009, 2010. I was having a good deal of gut/digestion issues, among other things, and was seeking any resource that might help! I came across the website, earthclinic which became a wonderful resource for natural solutions.
Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.
According to earthclinic.com, I started using acv for – “antifungal2 and antibacterial effects. Studies have even found that apple cider vinegar has immunostimulant properties.3 It promotes good digestion and skin health.” And it has really been a huge help with my digestion.
I generally make an acv tonic that is a mix of apple cider vinegar, a bit of honey and a couple of shakes of cinnamon with room temperature water. I drink it most mornings when I first get up, before eating. On occasion, when I can find it, there’s a premixed apple cider vinegar drink that is available in several flavors that I buy. Oh, I get the acv with the the “mother” in it. If you look at the bottle, there is a darker cloudier bit which is the mother and is dissolved into acv as you shake it up.
And there are so many other benefits of acv. Below are 9 benefits listed on earthclinic.com:
Alleviate acid reflux
Aid weight loss and calorie reduction
Clear sinus infection and congestion (yes it works for this too!)
Treat pink eye
Alleviate ear ache pain
Improve skin health
Balance hair sebum and ph
Stop food poisoning
Reduce high blood pressure
Have you tried apple cider vinegar? What has your experience been? Share 👇🏽. See you next week!