We discuss in this interview:
- Trisha was diagnosed with RA in 2019
- How prednisone initially helped keep CRP levels under control
- Her beginnings with the Paddison Program after a friend’s recommendation
- Drastic dietary changes that can really make the difference
- Switching from prednisone to methotrexate
- Exercise, dancing and Bikram Yoga
- The importance of optimism and hope
- The gift of a healthy lifestyle
- The help that can come from a dog
Clint – Welcome back to RheumatoidSolutions.com, we have another guest today to inspire you and to make us all go, wow, look at what can be done when we change our lifestyle when we have rheumatoid arthritis. Her name is Trisha and she’s joining us from the North Island of New Zealand. Welcome, Trisha.
Trisha – Thanks, Clint. Thank you for the podcast.
Clint – Yes, I’m really looking forward to hearing your story in full. And just for the audience’s awareness, I do not know your story other than a few bullet points. We really have just connected briefly on an email and I said, wow, please come on and share your story. This is all fresh, just as much for me as it will be for everyone else. So give us that real short version first before we dive into your long story, just tell us, what’s the before and after situation?
Trisha – Well, in 2018 I became (inaudible), and at the beginning of 2019, I ended up in a wheelchair. Now in June 2021 after finding the Paddison Program and lots of other things, is that I’m now back working as a nurse and being able to go to yoga, and I’m part of the covid vaccinating team here.
Trisha – Wow!
Trisha – That’s how far it’s come.
Clint – That’s incredible. How does that make you feel better able to say that?
Trisha – Well, yeah, just amazed. In fact, it taught me, guess what a gift life is. The ability to be able to move and have flexibility back in my body is a real miracle. So that’s how I feel every single moment of the day.
Clint – I just can’t wait to hear about this portion of the story. I just want to ask you right away, like, what was the transition out of a wheelchair like? Was that something that was supervised for you or was it something where you just started to use the wheelchair a little less, maybe getting up and down for the meal times? Or what was that transition like?
Trisha – Well, the transition that really helped me was the prednisone in the beginning. And so little by little, each day, I could walk more on my feet and my feet could stand my weight. Until one day I realized that I could walk to the end of my driveway. Then I just did more and more each day,
Clint – Right. So it was the steroid that helped you become able to use the lower body more, which enabled you to build more strength bit by bit? And then the muscle regrowth and development was able to then get to a point where it could sustain you and then you’re out of the chair?
Trisha – Yes.
Clint – Wow, OK, I see.
Trisha – Yeah. Because my C Reactive Protein when I first started was 178, so I had a lot of inflammation going on.
Clint – That’s unbelievable. CRP is meant to be below 5. The highest mind ever got was 58 or something like that and, so I can appreciate what 170 plus looks like. I mean that’s just incredible. OK, I know from your email that you end up getting off that steroid. It obviously was helpful at that time to transition out of this wheelchair. Gosh, that’s life-changing, and thank goodness you had that available. But let’s go through the steps now in order. Tell us about the diagnosis and how quickly it came on.
Trisha – Well, I’ve been ill for a while, but I didn’t realize I was ill. I was overseas actually on an extended holiday in England and in Europe, I just thought I had sore muscles. By the time I got back to New Zealand in November 2018, I still kind of didn’t realize I was ill. And it was only at the beginning of 2019 when I suddenly thought, I can’t walk to my door. That my friend put me in a wheelchair and took me to the doctor.
Trisha – So the actual diagnosis was made in April 2019 because I asked for a referral to a rheumatologist, I was lucky I got a really brilliant guy who diagnosed that I had rheumatoid arthritis. Then, my friend who already also has RA, gave me the link to your program, so that’s when I joined the Paddison Program because I really didn’t know what to do. I’ve always been healthy, I never, ever, ever had anything wrong, so it was really scary. And so I joined the Paddison program, and suddenly I felt like this whole world had opened up to me because he was somebody who had already done all this amazing research. But it gave me a structure on what to do. So from the moment I accessed it, I changed my diet completely. I did everything that the program, so I went gluten-free, caffeine-free, dairy-free, sugar-free. I mean, I didn’t really drink much alcohol anyway, but I stopped drinking what I did. I made my juices, I just followed the program, and then little by little, I started to notice a change, I mean, without even meaning to I lost about 19 kilos,
Clint – Goodness.
Trisha – I mean, over a period of time, over that year. But. Yes, so the program was the key if you that helped me unlocked the door to my path back to health. Yeah. So, yes, a little by little I started to get well, and my rheumatologist put me on methotrexate. So I take 20 milligrams of Methotrexate a week. I hated the prednisone, I think, it’s the emergency drug, it was absolutely necessary, and I think that is where it has a really strong position in being able to support people move again, but it just made me feel I could undercut my wrist quite easily. So I spoke with my rheumatologist and he supported me in coming off of it. So I worked out a plan and I started to observe how my body responded, so when I cut down a milligram, I worked out that it took 3 weeks for my body to stabilize out. So that every 2 weeks I reduced it. Then when I got to 5 milligrams, I went down to 4.5, then 4, until I got to 0.5. Then I went to quarter and then Monday I just stopped it. So I started taking it in January 2019 and I finished it in December 2019,
Clint – Virtually a year, one year to get off it. What was the starting dose?
Trisha – Well, the GP put me on 40 milligrams because he thought I had polymyalgia rheumatica. So it went 40 milligrams for a week, 30 milligrams for a week, and 20. And then I was meant to reduce it by MG every month. But when I saw the rheumatologist, he said that he would never stop me on, that he would always stop people on 50 milligrams. Because the 40 mg here anyway, here in New Zealand is the protocol for the people with respiratory disorders, not rheumatoid arthritis. Yeah, so when he first diagnosed me, I had to come off prednisone straight away, he just said, stop it. I need to work out what you really have. And until you’re off prednisone, I can’t.
Clint – Right. I guess what he’s looking for is the true state of inflammation that can only be revealed underneath the drug.
Trisha – Yes, exactly. So I did and within about four days, I couldn’t walk again.
Clint – And then did you see him?
Trisha – And so I got the true diagnosis. And even though my factor is RA negative that’s what I have. So he put me back on 15 and we just went with it from there. He was brilliant. Whatever I want to do, he supports me on my diet. And in the beginning, I kind of became fixated to come off methotrexate because I had this thing about I want to be drug-free. However, over time I realized that I need to leave things at the status quo. That instead of having that as an end goal, I need to focus on the process of what I need to do to stay healthy. And I’m really, really fortunate because methotrexate and my body seem to be OK together.
Clint – Yeah, great and let me just now summarize what I think we’ve learned so far. You went and presented with massive inflammation having a CRP of 170 plus. They gave you immediately high dose steroid of 40 milligram, this enabled you over a period of time to be able to come up out of the wheelchair as you build muscle strength through your legs, so this got you moving again. The Rheumatologist needed you to come off that so that he could diagnose you appropriately with the current level of symptoms that were being suppressed. After a few days, shocking again and couldn’t walk again, and he said, OK, let’s get you back on prednisone but as a lower dose of 15 and then over the period of January to December, you went from 15 and weaned your way all the way back to off the prednisone completely by using the natural interventions that we’ll talk more about.
Trisha – Yes, I did. That’s correct.
Clint – A lot of people get stuck on prednisone for years and years and it becomes a very, very challenging future if you’ve been on it for a very long time. Obviously, it’s dose dependent, but you wouldn’t want to be on 50 mg for too long. So you’ve done well, done tremendously well to get off it. Okay. So talk to us then about the methotrexate dosages you started that I think you said on 15 milligram.
Trisha – I started the Methotrexate on 10 milligrams and then I did that, I think for about 2 or 3 weeks, and then I went up to 20 mg and that’s where I remained on.
Clint – And you’ve remained on 20 mg. Okay. Normally when people taper down their prednisone, so from January to December like you did, symptoms will start to come back, you have defied that through your dietary changes. Let’s talk about those now. Let’s talk about the things that you were doing that you found were most helpful within the sort of program structure. Also, other things potentially as well that you would be doing. Talk about your most effective interventions.
Trisha – The most effective intervention was obviously my diet, I just changed everything and I stuck to your diet for the whole of that year completely. Also, I guess something else that really helped me was that I started to do a lot of research about the fact that I probably had a leaky gut as well, and how the diet supported starting that healing process going on. So I’d have to say that the diet was the main health benefit for me for all those years and actually continues to be so. Another thing is I did was when I started to be able to move, I started to dance. I found that I really enjoyed dancing and my body responded well to it, it kept the flexibility. I have also been a big believer in bodywork, and I use natural ways because I’m also a nurse, so I try to follow whenever it’s appropriate to do so. So I would go for a massage and I still go to her today and she does body structure to keep me in good line. I think one of the main things was my own attitude and my own belief system. I think because I’ve always had hope. I’ve never lived without hope, if that makes any sense. And one of the big, big learnings for me, I think the whole way through this process was that in my darkest hours anyway, maybe in people’s darkest hours, that the intellect was never enough. That the ability to stay strong and courageous, that gift came from a totally different place in my head. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you. So that was the biggest motivation, I guess, that kept me going is that the courage and the strength to be able to move through this disorder was not an intellectual process. It was just something that came from some other place. So. Yes, I think so. The other thing I started to do and I read your words many, many times about Bikram yoga, and I thought, no, I don’t want to do yoga, so I tried gyms, but I hate gyms. I tried all sorts of things, but I hated them. So in the end, our local modern yoga, as it’s called now, they have like a pick from Biggest Loser challenge where you have to go for 13 weeks and you have to go at least four times a week to stay in the challenge. So I thought, what the hell? And I joined it. So that was a major game changer as well for me. And so I got a Bikram yoga four times a week. When I first started, I couldn’t kneel down. I mean, I still can’t do a lot of the standing series, but the strength in my right leg is coming back, so that keeps me mobile and flexible. I had a hip replacement last August, and that really helped me. So now I’m walking, yeah, I’m walking, going to yoga, vaccinating, walking my dog, doing my garden. I don’t know if I’ve answered your question. (inaudible) The diet, the yoga, and I think it’s the mental attitude.
Clint – Yeah, I’m want to go into a couple of those in more detail. You’ve pretty much laid out the rest of our chat here as we go into these things that help you. So your diet and I’ve noted dancing, massage your belief system, and keeping up the level of optimism and hope. Bikram yoga, it’s obviously a big part of my journey, the hip replacement to fix up the sort of the weakest link in the body so that the body can benefit. Let’s talk about the belief system because dancing is self-explanatory. Massage sort of self-explanatory, with massage I found that when people say, what about massage? My answer to that is always it’s all tremendous, it makes you feel good, it relaxes you, it’s therapeutic for the muscles. But just don’t let the practitioner press into the connective tissue. Right. Knee the joint. So the tendinitis right at the joint level and of course, the synovitis at the joint itself. We do not want to be pressing into that area that can become even more inflammatory if we irritate that. But everything between the two joints anywhere in the body feels good to rub. Absolutely.
Clint – On the topic of belief system, hope, and remaining optimistic, you talked about the darkest days. When I speak on this at live events, I say and often I put this at the end. It is because it can become a little I can get a little emotional when I talk about this. But I talk about hope being a lot like love or where we can be out of love and feel loveless in our life. But sometimes long periods, you feel extremely lonely, and there’s is no one that you’re connecting with at a deep level. But then someone can just give you a look, just one look from another human being instantly recreate that sense of love and make you feel love. It doesn’t take a long time, it can happen in a split second. In the same way, we can feel that there’s no hope for very long periods of time. Then something happens and hope can return in an instant. I define what that occurrence is as being a game plan and seeing a path to get from where you are today to where you want to get to. Once that game plan is put in front of you, you can see what needs to be done or at least believe that that is the path forward wholeheartedly. Then hope comes back instantly and there it is, that’s what I need to do. I’m in this baby, I’m going for it, and I’m ready. You get goosebumps, you’re just charged, and you are ready to go. I believe that is the missing thing when we are lacking hope. I don’t know what to do, I don’t think there is any path that can get me out of this. So does that speak to your experience also?
Trisha – Yes, I think it really does. I think part of the fact that it contributed to my illness, was my husband had been ill for about eight years before he died of cancer. Then my mum was ill and I also lost mum. Then two and half years later, I lost dad and I think they were pretty dark days. Then when I became ill, I sort of just thought I don’t know what’s going on here. Then one day I was with my dog in the park, I was feeling pretty down and I know the prednisone lead to that. I was walking with Bella and suddenly I don’t know what it was, but suddenly I stopped and looked at a tree. I realized I had never, ever noticed this tree before. I could see how green it was and suddenly I noticed, how many different types of colors of green there were in the trees in the park. It was like, I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like this sensation that washed over me and it showed me that nature. If I could only see the nature that I was being shown in the park, it would show me the process between life and death. For example, when winter comes, you can’t see anything, and everything is dead. But nonetheless, there’s still life going underneath and you just cannot see it until the spring comes. I can’t explain it, but at that moment I just thought I can do this. The factor that’s going to make the difference between being able to do it and not is just myself. All the support in the world is great, but the key is just myself. I’m prepared to do and give up, and I’m also prepared to allow my thoughts to run to. Does that make sense? I’ve always had spiritual beliefs and I would say I’m a soul living a human life. There is nowhere in the universe that is written that to live a mortal life is easy. As challenges come up, I thought if I just had tiny little challenges in my life, then I’m going to have little successes. But, if I have huge challenges in my life and I can work through them, my success is going to be massive as well. I was just really happy with that result. I do think that I didn’t do anything wrong to have this illness, it just happened for whatever reason. So, what is it showing me? It showed me the courage to move through it came from a different place to my intellect. There were plenty of people, information, and research out there to help me. If I wanted to keep eating cheese because I love cheese then, I can. But if I wanted to be healthy, I had to stop it, and therein lies the choice. It doesn’t matter how bad things were and I actually had a choice and that was the difference. I had the choice, I had the freedom to choose, and I was a decider.
Trisha – Yes, I think (inaudible) with Clint I feel that I’m lucky in life. I have a home, I have a job, and it has allowed me to do what I want. It is because I’m actually retired but I went back in to help with the vaccinations. I can now live a life of service because as you said, just smile. If I’m with people or if I’m the observation nurse, I give people information on what to do or if they feel that they are ready to go. The ability to see the gratitude that somebody can explain this easily to me is a gift. I don’t know if that kind of makes any sense to you, do I?
Clint – Oh, absolutely. I’m just listening and giving you the chance to explore your thoughts fully, rather than interjecting. It is because you’re talking about really deep and important touching things. You spoke about making progress and it’s going to have to come down to yourself. Whilst being surrounded by others, you were the one here making the choices and so forth. The expression that I use is; if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me. I also use; if it’s going to be, it’s up to me and. As you say, no one else can choose what to put in your mouth or no one else can make you go to your full Bikram classes a week and that to me is not fun but rather it is discipline or hard work. I know it because I’ve been going once or twice a week. Every time it comes to go I always think, do I really want to go today? And the answer is usually no, but I still go. It is because it’s almost like having to go to school when you’re a kid. If you don’t like going to school, your parents make you go because you have to go. The consequences of not going are too significant if you don’t go to school. The consequences to your body if you don’t do the appropriate exercise to reduce inflammation, build strength and flexibility, is your future will not be great.
Trisha – No, it won’t be a great or good future. One of the things that were a gift in a way from having rheumatoid arthritis and ended up where I did, it gave me a picture of my own future. If I didn’t do something about it right at that moment, I wouldn’t just see it. I mean, isn’t that a gift?
Clint – I often think, what would I do if I could still eat whatever I wanted or I didn’t have to exercise? Because eating whatever I wanted and not exercising can lead to, with a history of antibiotic use, a breakdown of my body at 31 years old. Now, let’s say it didn’t break down because of the antibiotics, and let’s say I just kept doing that. My microbiome wasn’t necessarily smashed up, but I continued to eat the way I did and I wasn’t exercising. Maybe I was focused on a couple of businesses that I had going at the time. Stand-up comedy is the main thing, which is a late-night thing and you’re also drinking. You are sort of eating late on the road and so forth. Then I also had another small business just here in Australia. My focus is on other things and I would do nothing with my health, where would that end up? A neighbor just said that his father just went for a triple bypass the other day. When I heard this I immediately think, I know that most of those are avoidable. In my mind, studies show that they are dietary-related and it’s super clear that heart disease is a lifestyle disease. I didn’t say that to the person rather I said that inside my head. Well, that could have been me if I’d have kept on the same path. If it hadn’t been rheumatoid arthritis, it was probably be something else.
Trisha – In a way or in a funny roundabout way, we’ve given the gift.
Clint – It’s a hard thing for most of our audience to swallow that it’s a gift. I don’t even really have the ability to say it’s a gift. It is because damaged joints tell me each day that they wish that never came. However, I know what you’re saying and I understand what you are saying. There’s this concept of like there is no right, there is no wrong, there is no good and there is no bad but rather it’s just is. If it is, then as you said, what choice do we have now and what interpretation do we have of it? In which, we can provide a better future for ourselves and you’ve interpreted it as a gift that empowers you so much. If we can’t quite get to that point we can say; at least there are massive lessons, or at least as massive as the teaching of don’t eat that, or when our kids get to teenagers don’t give them antibiotics for acne. When we’re out of the restaurant, don’t choose the oily meal. Just eat the food that is good for you before you leave. They are just heaps and heaps of choices we can make. Every time we serve someone as you do or when you’re really generously being contributing to your community, you can soak that in and appreciate that feeling more than you would have.
Trisha – Absolutely. Maybe gift is the wrong word but it gave me a massive life lesson, let’s put it that way. A life lesson of what could be if I didn’t change things. Before I retired, I worked in radiology, and I was one of the nursing team for 13 years. I’ve seen people that would come for peripheral angiography, and they would put stents and everything in. They would go away to continue to smoke and then they wonder why it doesn’t work. I just felt blessed that my girlfriend gave me the link to the Paddison Program, to be honest. As I say, I eat a lot more now and there was a point where my hemoglobin was abnormal. It is because of the inflammation right down in my bones, but it’s all good now. My C Reactive Protein is 2, my hemoglobin is about 124 which is fine, and all of my blood tests are normal. I eat really cleanly because of the methotrexate and I like to keep my liver as clean as I can. When people say to me that I know that have bad arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, that I love cheese and I can’t do without my cheese. But I really think that’s the answer and you’re making a choice. A long time ago, I read a book by a guy called Viktor Frankl, and it was called Man’s Search for Meaning. I think because my life has always had a meaning for me and even in the darkest moments, that always had helped me.
Clint – I also love that book. When the kids get old enough to read it and not be freaked out by the setting in which the book was written, I will have them read that or read it to them as well. There are some wonderful lessons in that book that still sit with me. If anyone hasn’t read that book, it’s not a long book, and it’s not something that you need to set aside a month for. It’s something that you can get through in a weekend or more for most people. But it’s yes, it’s Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. You should check it out and see if it would be suitable for you. But yes, it has some deep lessons about picturing the outcome that you want and holding on to that as reality for as long as it takes until it comes to you.
Trisha – For me, as I said in my email, I no longer think that I’ve got to reach that goal because I know my goal. For me now it’s always, what do I need to do? What’s the process that I need to follow step by step? With that, it’s easy for me to know where I’ve gone wrong. And I need to change this part of the process rather than thinking I’ve got to change the whole goal. For me, it’s my diet and your diet is still a part of my foundational meal plan. Also the yoga and walking the dog, and it’s my work. I do and I feel extremely lucky that I came across your program and other things when I did because that a game changer for me.
Clint – How is your friend doing? The one who recommended the program to you.
Trisha – She’s good, she does kinesiology, and she’s a body worker. She hasn’t or she doesn’t take anything at all and I think she had a knee replacement many years ago. But she’s really healthy and she said it made a big difference.
Clint – That’s great, isn’t it? It makes me really happy to know that you came about these life changes through someone else, who’s also done really well, and that’s it sort of happened through osmosis.
Trisha – Before I went back to doing vaccinating, I was working as a cold laser therapist. I had a lot of clients that had rheumatoid arthritis, and I gave everyone your link and where to find you.
Clint – Well, thank you. I really hope that they are able to, at the very least, listen to our free podcast and learn that way. Just listening to your story today would be enough for most people to say, wow there is something that I can do. As I always say, if it’s meant to be and it’s up to me. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered? When you said the program and some other things, were you referring to all the things that we’ve touched on?
Trisha – (Inaudible) I can’t live without my cheese and then I told him to try nutritional yeast.
Clint – That’s right there’s always a substitute for everything.
Trisha – I know. Actually, it’s been really lovely talking with you, Clint. Because one of the spiritual gifts, if you like, the (inaudible) to my husband I had was the way we could talk together about anything and everything. I do miss that in my life, thank you!
Clint – I love this kind of conversation. There are only so many times I can talk about things that are practical and at a physical level. For example, today you need to increase your leafy greens. The number of times I’ve said that is countless and it doesn’t shift me emotionally. But when we talk about things that are beyond the human body or we’re talking about belief patterns and things that are more non-physical, that’s when I get goosebumps. And that is where I also feel like we’re touching upon stuff that’s beyond the human body and mind, which is so powerful that it dwarfs us in our own human existence. Like when you look at the horizon or out upon the ocean after you’ve just got out of your car, you found your keys, you got the bag, you walked up and you’ve looked up and you look at the horizon where the sea meets the sky. You will see that distance away and it shifts your current state to that’s why I came to the beach or that’s why I came to this lookout. I am so small and this is just magnificent, that’s the sort of feeling I get when I talk about spiritual stuff. The basic stuff, like looking at the car keys, getting out of the car, and then talking about spiritual stuff is looking out into the horizon and knowing that we’re only so insignificant compared to the universe.
Trisha – Actually. It’s interesting because when you say that, one of the things I would say that really helped me was my dog. She kept my heart open and she kept my heart tender. It is because I had to walk her, I had to feed her, and she snuggled up to me at night. One of the things that I guess is important is contact, doesn’t it? I believe that every heart needs to be loved or every heart needs to be loved by another being, whether it’s human or animal it doesn’t matter.
Clint – Yes, it sounds like your dog played a very big part in you having purpose and feeling connection.
Trisha – Even though we’re tiny within a universe we’re still important because we’re all connected.
Clint – Yes. Now, this brings my thoughts to a film on Netflix called My Octopus Teacher. Have you already seen that?
Trisha – No, I haven’t.
Clint – Please watch it and I encourage everyone to watch this film. It is a beautiful film and it’s a documentary about a man who had a lot of grief in his life. He just started to go swimming each day in the cold waters near where he lived in South Africa. He develops the most unusual, unique connection with a female octopus that was living at the bottom of the ocean. Then, he builds up his ability to hold his breath, and he also free dives and spends time with the octopus. He sees the entire life cycle or watches her life and it’s so touching. I don’t want to give any too much away because I want everyone to watch the film and to see it. I mean, it’s moving and you’ll probably cry. It’s like just the most moving film and it’s a documentary so it’s all true. He filmed the whole thing himself and it looks amazing. The videographer is amazing and the whole thing’s just quite different from anything else I’ve seen. The main message from that film is that we’re not just visitors to this earth. On this place we observe, we learn some lessons, we contribute maybe and then we’re gone. But we are part of it and we are necessarily here for the behavior and the lives of others to work correctly. We are a cog in the mechanics and we’re not just watching the mechanics. And that is one of the key subtleties that we need to understand. We are necessarily here for the rest of the environment in which we live to thrive, even if that means we have to suffer. There is some kind of reason that’s going on and we’re not just here suffering on our own and it doesn’t work like that. The film is beautiful in demonstrating that
Trisha – Okay, I’ll watch it. Thank you.
Clint – Well, I hope a lot of people watch this because Trisha shared little lessons in this conversation as well. If people just pick up one thing from watching or listening to this conversation that helps them, then that will have been a great gift. Thank you very much for coming, sharing your story, and for telling us where you’re up to and all that you’re doing. I’m sure you’ve got lots more left to do. You’ve got such a good platform, behaviors, and structure in place to keep you on a great track now.
Trisha – No, thank you. Thank you for all the research in the program. It is because that was the platform I started from and the platform that still keeps the foundations going. Thank you.
Clint – Thanks, Trisha.
Trisha – Bye!