We discuss in this interview:
- How Natasha gave up all processed foods after being diagnosed with JIA
- The support she received from her family
- Paddison Program‘s maintenance phase
- Side effects of medications and biologic drugs
- Triple therapy and drug interactions
- The importance of exercise
- Committing to decisions
- Yoga and oxidative stress
Clint – Today I have co-recorded a podcast episode with Trish and Natasha. They have a podcast that I was a guest on, and so what we did is we grabbed some of the recordings from that so we can share it here on the Rheumatoid Solutions podcast. Trish and Natasha have a podcast called Take a Pain Check, and you can go and listen to the episode where they interview me anytime. Today I’m going to talk to Natasha about her experience following the Paddison Program. She developed JIA, and she’s going to talk about how she implemented the modified version of the Paddison Program for her age. First of all, she gets an introduction from her friend Trish.
Trish – Clint will be asking Natasha questions about her journey through the program. Natasha got tons of relief with her arthritis pain because of his program after her mum did a lot of research. Clint take it away.
How Did Natasha Reintroduce Foods
Clint – How did you go with the reintroduction of your foods to the point where you’ve got a diverse diet and how are your symptoms now?
Natasha – The Paddison Program is obviously not that easy to follow being a teenager, so it took a lot of self-control and discipline and I honestly could not have done it alone. So my family actually supported me, my family used to eat meat and my grandma, my sister, my brother, my dad all turned vegetarian, which was easier for them to handle. My mom turned vegan, gluten free, oil free, sugar free. They were really like into it, they really needed me to feel better. We always enjoy celebrating and eating outside for every occasion, so we kind of had to change our thinking and our mindset when it came to eating. So we throw all of the processed foods in cans so that we were not even tempted to even touch them. Like I said we gave up the sugar, the oil, the gluten, the processed foods. That all started in October 2017 which was a year after my diagnosis. I think for now I am very strict with my diet, but there are days where I feel as though I want to eat out so I don’t actually eat out at all if I do eat sushi because there is no oil and we make sure that there’s no oil or something like that. There’s always those like compromises but we don’t eat out.
Natasha – If it’s my birthday, I cheat on my birthday, I call it the cheat day, maybe cheat days are not supposed to be there. But on my birthday, I do eat whatever I want because that’s one day of the year. But otherwise, I’m very strict. I think the main thing that really causes inflammation for me is the oil and the dairy. Out of like the sugar, the gluten, I think the oil and the dairy are mean and it’s basically it has to be like deep-fried for it to really cause pain. So coconuts, nuts, all of that stuff I can have it in moderation, I can have a little now I know before I couldn’t. And something that I really learn what the Paddison Program is that say I do decide to eat out one day, I know that I can reset my system by going on the 12-day detox. So I’ve kind of developed how to manage my pain, and if I do need to eat outside, I know drinking cucumber juice the next day will make me feel so much better. So, yeah, that’s kind of the story of how it is now. I can eat nuts, I can eat coconut very limited here and there, but if I am in pain then I just restart.
Natasha’s Current Situation
Clint – Yeah it’s well you pretty much like what we call the maintenance phase and that’s where you want to get to. You’ve gotten to the end result and you’re all that all that changes from this point on is being able to maybe eat a little more nuts or being able to not have to reset for more than a day if you make a mistake. It’s more of a massaging of where you’re at as opposed to anything radically different. It’s similar to what I’ve got going on, which is I eat nuts and seeds and so on and some high fat, I like Cacao and a few other things that are higher in fat, but I don’t go overboard, I don’t want to be focusing my diet onto a higher fat diet, but I can eat those things. And yeah, you get to a point where you don’t really feel that you have to reset or you just don’t do the Cheat’s as an alternative. Yeah, well, that’s sensational. And we’re here with regards to medications, when we originally spoke some time ago, the push was towards some medications, wasn’t it? What did the doctor say with regards to meds and what’s the current situation?
Natasha – The doctor originally in 2016, I started with methotrexate and prednisone just for damage control. At the time I was only 13 so my parents are very hesitant with the drugs being prescribed. However, they soon realize that like when I started the drugs, actually my feet started to show some damage and corrosion. I don’t know if it was, it was obviously not because of the medication, but the medications were not working. So I was on medication for a while, I had that X-ray done after and there was actually some damage in my feet. Based on that, my parents decided for six months of taking medications and there was no change, my blood levels went further. I then tried biologics, so biologics is very strong on your body as everyone (inaudible). So I started on Humira, then I went to Actemra, then I went to Tocilizumab, and this was all in the past three years.
Clint – Oh, wow. That’s some (inaudible).
Natasha – Nothing worked and it was insane. Because in three years I was not in remission, I had no medications that I was working with. The only thing that was kind of keeping me going was your program, so that kind of made my pain go away. I went from a size ten to a size eight in shoe size and I was able to dance freely because of the Paddison Program. And on top of that, I am now on medication that does work. So I’m on triple therapy now and I started it last year in the summer. And I also had joint injections prior to that because those were the only two things that actually were going to work to make me under remission. So now I am completely under remission, which is very good. I just went through every single medication and nothing worked.
Clint – So what, what are the triple therapy? Is it methotrexate, or Plaquenil, or sulfasalazine? Yeah, that’s it, and that works for you?
Natasha – Yes, it does.
Clint – Fantastic. And so that’s in combination with the diet that we’ve been talking about. What dose of sulfasalazine do you take?
Natasha – I don’t know the dosage, but I can tell you that I take three pills in the morning and two pills at night.
Clint – Right. And what’s the dose for thee methotrexate?
Natasha – We are trying to taper it down first and it is not at the highest dosage. But it’s also not at the lowest dose because I was experiencing a lot of hair loss. So we have to make it balance but I don’t know if the methotrexate is actually working. It’s because when I went on methotrexate initially, it didn’t work at all. So we always have that like thought, is it actually working on my just taking drugs? Not knowing that it’s working or maybe it’s working together, so no one knows the real answer.
Clint – If that is the truth, no one knows the real answer. However, I think the latter of what you said, which was that they can work in combination, holds a lot of value. I remember Dr. George Munoz, who is the rheumatologist that we often have on our monthly live calls on our rheumatoid support and rheumatoid solutions platform, he said in a call a couple of months ago about the way that triple therapy works. In fact, he spoke over several minutes about all the interactions between each of the drugs and so the interaction component is important. And I think potentially, even if the methotrexate on its own may not have been pleasing results for you. But for people interested, we have those platforms and you can go and watch all the recordings from every little question that’s been asked to our doctors over the past 12 months in rheumatoid solutions and rheumatoid support. So how do you feel about going forward? What’s your overall feeling about your current situation? What are you hoping to achieve in the future?
Natasha – In general, I am thinking of still of attending the university and it’s not close from home. My mom does all the cooking right now and I think that it’s always a fear that if no one’s cooking, how am I going to sustain my life in university without relying on those processed foods, oil, and all of that? So that is a big fear because I know my mom can’t come every single week to drop out. But she will try her best (inaudible) where I’m going yet and that’s a very big fear. Because I know exactly if I eat something where it’s going to hurt on my right foot at a certain joint area. So I know that, if I move and it hurts, I know I eat something wrong and that’s how my body kind of comes up to me now. And I think that’s very good because now I know what to do and that’s my fear, the university and how am I going to survive. In terms of pain, I feel like I’m pain free, and to be honest, I don’t have any flare ups. I know a lot of kids mentioned they have flare ups. And the things they don’t understand is that their diet I am a very big culprit of not exercising, which is very bad. I do follow your program for the diet part but I don’t follow for the exercise part. But I do exercise once a week, which is obviously not ideal. But it is something that I also fear about in university because if I don’t even exercise now, how can I fit them into my schedule? So those are my fears in terms of going forward but I am pain free right now and I don’t have flare ups, so I feel very good. And I think having that support with your whole family or even your parents being so young, it’s very helpful. Also, my blood test markers don’t show any inflammation anymore. So I had like high RH factor and now I have below fourteen, which is like a normal level.
Clint – Wow, that’s fantastic.
Natasha – I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I think it’s definitely a very long process. And now we’ve kind of come to that solution.
Clint – Do I have your permission to make some suggestions or some insights? If I were you, this is what I would do just because you have quite the dilemma coming up with going to university and not having it. I mean that’s stressful thinking. Look, I’m a big factor in how you’ve gotten to where you are and still eating the foods that your mum creates. And if you take that away even on a small scale you have experience, or if you divert away from what your mum’s cooking for you, you get that pain in your right foot in that one place. Well, I’m sure your mind goes to the dangerous thoughts of, if I’m eating crap all the time, then I might get out of my balance, and that’s worrying. And also, you want to fit in with the social environment of the university, you want to make friends and you want to be one of the cool kids. You don’t want to be the weirdo who’s juicing in the corner.
Natasha – That is very true.
Clint – So you’ll get a nickname like Green Head or something and you don’t obviously want that as well. There’s no magic way out of this disease and it isn’t going away, or you can’t just wave a magic wand, click our fingers and get rid of it. We have a real problem and it’s something that is going to take some real quality troubleshooting and problem solving to find the balance that you’re happy with. And so what I would do and this is just sort of the bullet points. This is not how to do it, but this is what I’d be wanting to achieve. When do you start university?
Natasha – September.
Clint – All right, it’s like April as we’re today, right? So you’ve got April, May, June, July, August, you got four or five months again. What I would do is take this as positive pressure to develop an exercise plan that is going to serve many purposes. We spoke about on the podcast prior to what we’re doing now with your friend Trish on your podcast, about the importance of exercise for balancing oxidative stress. So methotrexate and I can’t say from the literature that I’m aware of the other two drugs in your triple therapy. Methotrexate causes oxidative stress and that’s what’s going on in the liver when your liver enzymes go up. Okay, so we know that methotrexate adds oxidative stress to a body that already has oxidative stress as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. The number one way to alleviate oxidative stress, which in turn will allow your body to develop more ability to control the inflammation, is exercise. You’ve got this situation where you’re going to have pain from multiple angles. So where is the pain going to come from? Is it going to be the pain from not having friends because you’re juicing all the time and you’re not able to eat at the table with other friends or eat pizzas, or is the pain going to be having your mom come and do all these preparation of food, or is the pain going to be the discipline required of doing the exercise? So you’re going to have pain or is the pain going to be physical joint pain as a result of just saying, I don’t care, I’m just going to do what I want and pretend this thing’s going away. Because of your experience in the past with failed biologics and methotrexate as a single therapy, your body is tremendously medication responsive. So you don’t also have that sense of, well, the pharmaceutical cabinet is going to take care of me. We can’t have that as a fallback plan of reassurance. If I was in your situation, I would say, well, all of those pain options are on the table. Did you say 18 years old?
Natasha – Yeah, 18.
Clint – Unfortunately, as we get older, we have to make some tough decisions. And I watch my three kids seven and under and the little ones, that they don’t ever have to make decisions that are challenging. They never have to make decisions that adult and kind of consequent rich decisions. But unfortunately, with this disease that you have been susceptible to and now you have to make this tough decision. And what I would do is I would choose the discipline together with pain and I would become determined to build an exercise regime that’s going to be supportive of my health. In doing so I can’t make promises but I want to tell you with as much conviction, love, and compassion as I can, the fitter you become, the more likely that you’re able to make more errors in your diet and have better effectiveness of managing inflammation overall. It’s one of the only strategies that you’ve got left in your toolkit, your diet is perfect, and your medications are now locked in and working perfectly. And with stress levels, they’re going to vary a lot and you’re starting a new career or new education process so you can try and do your best to manage those. But your big one or the big low hanging fruit here is the exercise. And without engaging in it, you’re not asking for that assistance and that assistance is right there available to you. Okay, so with oxidative stress, right? There was a study done just by a group of soldiers, a group of I think they were Navy soldiers, and they were just doing yoga a few times a week. They did six months of yoga and they increased glutathione by 40 percent. Now, that might not mean too much to that sentence, but glutathione is the ultimate antioxidant in your body and that can suppress all of this free radical activity by just doing yoga a few times a week. OK, so if that’s an absolute, that should be an absolute minimum.
Natasha – I tried yoga before and I did try different types of exercise. I tried a bunch of different therapies like bio-resonance, laser therapy, massage therapy, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine from India, and all these places. We went to India just to get some answers about pain and how it would work. And I think the only thing that we could have really rely on was your program. I could literally tell anyone that this is the only thing that’s really even though we spent money, this is the only thing that was actually worth it. At the point where you’re very desperate, you will try any therapy with no regret to see if it even worked or not. So we literally tried everything and I think we’re just really grateful to have kind of found this plan and program. And so, like you mentioned, about exercising and all of that. Do you have any recommendations for exercise, (inaudible) video, anything?
Clint – Let me try and reposition the thoughts you have about our program. First of all, thank you for saying such kind words and I appreciate that it’s been so helpful for you. But I’m never done, I want more for you and I can see more opportunity. And most of those things that you said that you did in India were involving you lying on your face with someone touching you or prodding you all shining lasers onto you. They want you to build up a sweat and making your muscles work hard. I appreciate that you’ve tried a lot of things and they’re all good things to try. With light therapy, there’s a little science on that. With massage therapy, stay away from the actual joint connective tissue and that can be therapeutic. It certainly feels good, helps you sleep better, and it calms down the nervous system. There’s some benefit, but if we really want to engage the most powerful ways to keep your body strong and reduce inflammation and here’s the key. We have to challenge it so that it adapts to become more robust, that’s what we’re doing. So in terms of suggestions, the support platforms we’ve got these strength-building exercise videos, and we’ve got yoga videos, and so on. But for the low-cost option and not zero barrier option, you can just choose stuff off YouTube. There is 90 minute or there is 60 minute Bikram yoga sequence that you can follow online and that’s always a great place to start. But if you want and you just did a really starting point, get on a stationary bike or get on a real bike and just get out there go up and down some hills, and get the heart rate going up. I prefer stationary over a road bike and the reason being is because you can then quantify distance better the time you don’t get distracted. A friend doesn’t call you over and you then stop and talk for ten minutes and you can treat it as exercise and not pleasure. Exercise can be swimming, yoga, strength building the elliptical things, you can cover yourself in a lot of heavy clothing and go for a sweaty walk up a hill. You don’t need to think, you can get down on the floor and do like glute bridges or push-ups or sit-ups or whatever it might be. Repetition is important for comparison, so we’re looking to see improvements that are motivating to strength endurance. Just find something that feels okay that you want to loathe and you’ll actually do and start small. Start with five minutes a day and then you think I’ve got to be able to beat five minutes tomorrow
Natasha – It’s an everyday thing, right? Exercise every day is important as what you’re saying.
Clint – I would walk every day, absolutely walk every day a lot, and I would challenge my muscles at least every other day.
Natasha – I think also the pandemic has made it worse because in a way. Because I always go to school, I walk up and down and more active, and now it’s like your bed right beside you. . I remember I also tried hot yoga because my mom told me that you recommend hot yoga. We tried that and I could not survive the hot environment, it was very difficult. And then we tried normal yoga and I realized I can’t do that either. So I just do like one-hour cardio like exercise dance class on Saturdays, but I know that that’s not enough.
Clint – Do you like dancing?
Natasha – Yeah.
Clint – Then do you have this thing called, Zumba? Have you ever heard of it?
Natasha – I’ve heard of it.
Clint – I don’t know whether or not it’s going to be too impactful on your joints, but this is not a blanket recommendation for that. Just start by looking into something like that. Is there some dance that you could do that is low-Impact and that you’re going to enjoy?
Natasha – So the one that I do is actually high cardio on Saturdays and it’s too much for my feet. Before I started the program, I could not dance anymore in that high cardio Indian dancing class that I did. But after I started the program, I can now go an hour jumping without feeling any pain. I think the issue is also because I have so many classes and stuff, and I know that’s just an excuse that, oh, I have schools that I can’t exercise. I know it’s an excuse, but I think I’m just not motivated to exercise because I feel like I have that diet that is making me (inaudible). But I know that there’s something like if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose (inaudible) too. I know it’s very difficult and I will definitely try something out and see how it works.
Clint – Look, I think it’s lovely of you to allow me to challenge you a little bit and that’s clearly what I’m doing. I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable I just mean to plant some seeds for you to think about. And I know that’s not the purpose of our chat today, but I just want to say, come on, you can do it. You can do this because the day is going to come when are you going to show up at university. So let’s get ready, and let’s build the bridge between now and then so that you enter this situation. You are competent and you’ve got a plan because no plan is a bad plan showing up. So that I think they are things to think about. And yes, you have the diet and we’re so grateful for that. And that is what we want to continue to do but that’s just a part of it. We have more of this opportunity that awaits you and that’s exciting. And the last thing I’ll say, about that is write down a list of reasons on a piece of paper called, (inaudible) Why I Must Exercise List. And on that list number one is pain reduction, Number two, if you like the phrase, if you don’t use it, you lose it, which is true, right? Number three, number four, number five, and it can be really specific. So that when I get to university, I can occasionally cheat more than what I currently do. By the way, at university, having spent four years there myself, there are tons of people who exercise at university. You get some real fitness freaks there who want to go to the gym all the time. And that could be a great source of friendships for you too. You could tap into a group of people or one or two, who you like to work out with you every day. And it might just be going and sitting on the treadmill for half an hour. What a great way to relieve stress, to build a friendship with someone who wants to go take your mind off other trivial things, feel good about yourself, and get some antinflammatory outcomes as well. At the very least, just pictures of being able to do that.
Natasha – (inaudible) I started sort of this podcast because we kind of want to let people know that there are these resources out there. Like I have tried bio residents, I’ve tried laser therapy, and it might not work for me, but it might work for you. And that’s why we wanted to give people a resource of the Paddison Program which has worked for me but Trish has never tried. This does give people the opportunity to know that there are people that are working really hard that had these experiences like you. I know that you were bedridden at one point and now you’re literally living your life and you’re perfectly fine. You’re able to do things that you want to do. So I think that’s kind of the purpose of our podcast to get people on who have made changes to our lives, who are creating platforms as well, and to let them know that so many people do have arthritis. We can be kids, we can be older and it’s just really hard to find those resources. I know my mom struggled to find resources and now we kind of want to let everyone know about this. And that’s kind of what we envision to do and continue to do for the future.
Clint – Yeah, beautiful. Well, you’re doing some fantastic things and Lord knows how hard it is when you’ve got arthritis. It just seems to dominate every thought, every action, and you always sort of wearing this heavy cloak of this is things in my life. We have to rise above that mentally and say, okay, what do I have? I’ve got the ability to take action and taking action is where the power is coming back to me and my action is going to support where I want to get to in the future. And I used to say, and I don’t use this phrase so much anymore, but it’s still like the intention is the same. If the phrase is, what can I do right now to get rid of some pain? And then as soon as I did it, it’s the same question again, what else can I do right now to get rid of the pain? And then again and again, and it becomes the mantra, what else can I do right now? So that is the mantra. The stuff that you’re doing is wonderful and congratulations on all that you’ve overcome so far, it’s really cool.