We discuss in this interview:
- Richard’s first attempts with Sulfasalazine and Methotrexate
- How going on a plant-based diet alone is just the beginning, not the end
- Lockdown as an opportunity and success with biologics
- Factors that can cause RA even in healthy people
- Stress and unhealthy lifestyle in the 20s
- The importance of exercise
- Trying everything to find a personalized lifestyle
- Having the right mindset
- The right doctor for the journey
- The importance of having support
Clint – Thanks for joining us today. I’ve got a guest who is going to talk about all the things that he’s learned in the last 18 months since getting Psoriatic Arthritis. He’s a very interesting guy and he posts some really, really fascinating content inside our rheumatoid support platform. And I invited him onto our podcast so that he could share some of these really interesting insights with all of us. Good day, Richard! He is all the way from Melbourne, but here today, visiting Sydney. How are you?
Richard – We’re in the same town Clint, and the same city today.
Clint – I think our Internet connection would be better but we’ve managed to work it out, haven’t we?
Richard – We have and after a bit of toing and froing, I think we’re ok.
Clint – Mate, thanks for coming on this. We talked about how this could be interesting for others because you are a tester. You like testing things, finding what works and what doesn’t, and you’ve also tested a lot of stuff in the last 18 months. You’re self-employed, you run a couple of businesses and stuff, and you also sort of have a logical problem solving kind of male mind. I think that lends itself well with trying to troubleshoot your way through a challenging health condition. Why don’t you tell us what your sort of diagnosis looked like when it happened and start sharing with us things you’ve tried or things you’ve learned throughout this journey.
Richard – When I landed on your stuff, I thought I’m made this particular program because I was vegan for a couple of years before my arthritic diagnosis. I was also doing Bikram yoga every morning at 6 -00 am for about three years before that as well. I think I was doing everything right and then I got it. I guess it’s just in the shortest possible time frame possible to explain what happens to me. I was doing a 6 -00 am Bikram yoga class for five mornings every week and I’d hardly ever miss it. One day, I turned up and my knees stopped bending and I was confused because it came completely out of the blue. I’ve heard countless people on your podcast tell a similar story. You think it must be some sort of injury and it’ll go away in a couple of days. But then, a couple of days turned into a couple of weeks, and probably about 6 weeks later it wasn’t getting any better. So I booked an appointment with a sports doctor, who took a look at it and did what he needed to do, MRIs, blood tests, and got the results back. He said, I think you need to go and see a rheumatologist, and I said, that’s interesting, what does that mean? He said, you might have arthritis, and I’m like, no, I don’t have arthritis and there’s no way I have arthritis. I’m young, fit, and healthy so I don’t have arthritis. And he’s like, well, let’s see and he gave me a couple of referrals and a couple of recommendations. Then I said, I want to see the best doctor. And he wrote down a couple of names and he said, go and see this guy, I won’t mention this guy’s name. After that, I went to him and he wrote down on the list that was somewhere between psoriatic ankylosing spondylitis or inflammatory arthritis. He didn’t put it into the rheumatoid category, but he certainly said that it’s one of those inflammatory arthritis. I said, what does this mean? Because I was very much like really in the dark with it all, and he pointed to his filing cabinet behind me and said, I’ve got 28 medications in there. We start at the bottom and we work our way up until we find one that works for you. I was like, that’s pretty full-on, can I do anything else? Like can I, can I heal naturally? At this point, I’m always experimenting with stuff, as you alluded to at the start of the podcast. I’m always looking for alternative therapies and different ways to challenge myself and help my body in natural ways because I was very much into that. And he said, no there’s really nothing you can do with the medication. And I said, well, what about like what about my diet? By this point, I’ve been vegan for a couple of years, and I was bingeing on Dr. Michael Gregor, Dr. Klapper, and all these amazing plant-based doctors. I wouldn’t say studying because I don’t take in all the information and able to regurgitate it. I was just processing all that information for probably a year or two before this diagnosis. I really did understand part of this point that diet plays a huge impact on health and that was my go-to. I was like, what can I do about my diet? He’s like, no, some people have some turmeric, but don’t bother.
Richard – After that, he wrote me a prescription for sulfasalazine and I sat on that for probably 4 to 6 weeks or maybe a couple of months. During that I was like, I really don’t want to take the medication because at this point I just didn’t want to be on medication. I truly believe that I would heal it naturally like I would brainwash myself for 2 years on plant-based with the benefits of a plant-based diet. And I’m like, if anyone was naturally healed with a chronic condition, then I definitely can. And yes, I sat on this prescription and I certainly wasn’t getting better and I was probably getting a little bit worse. Then, I went and filled the prescription at the pharmacy and came back with a box of Sulfasalazine. I took that for probably two months and nothing happened. I wasn’t too keen on going back and seeing this guy because I didn’t really like him. If he was the so-called best rheumatologist in Melbourne, and that was the answer that he gave me. Well, I don’t know whether I have that much confidence in him at this point I really didn’t know anything else. A couple of months later I called him up and said, look, I’m not making any progress here and I need to try something else. At that point, he wrote me a prescription for methotrexate. This is all very similar to the stories I have heard many times on your podcast. Then I was on methotrexate and I sat on that for a couple of months, and probably at this point, I was having my original doctor because the sports doctor actually gave me a prescription for Naproxen, the anti-inflammatory. I had a couple of boxes of that and I was sort of taking one of those every third day or every second day. I was getting moderate relief just enough to get around like by no means skipping around the place. Like I was really hobbling but it wasn’t bearable, but it was bearable if that makes sense. It was like it took the edge off it and I just wasn’t getting better, so I ended up filling the prescription with methotrexate, and I remember the first time I took it and I’d heard so many horror stories about methotrexate from people, on the podcast, yourself, and your experience on it. I remember that I did all sorts of weird, wacky stuff at times and maybe a little superstitious. But as I stood on top of it and I put it in like the middle of my room I said some praise over the top of it. I said, please heal my body, and please don’t harm my body. After I pray over it, I swallowed the tablet, and a month or two later, nothing happens. And I’m like, well, this is not working and I didn’t have any side effects from the methotrexate and I guess that’s positive. I was probably on 10 milligrams and nothing really happened. I wasn’t feeling lethargic, I wasn’t feeling tired, and it was just nothing really happens to me.
Richard – The diagnosis was about October or September of 2019 and this is probably we’re now at about probably around early March 2020. This is just as lockdown happened and by this point, I’d saw your TED talk. I was exploring the idea of transforming my diet like I was on a pretty good plant-based diet but it wasn’t perfect. But I’ll certainly be cooking with oils but it wasn’t optimal as it could be. And I think across those last couple of months, probably like November or December, when I found your podcasts and three months later I’ve certainly been looking at your stuff. I just wasn’t ready to jump onto your program and it just seemed like a monumental shift from what I was doing in my life. I had a lifestyle of going to cafes most days for coffee and just living a nice lifestyle. And then the idea of stripping that old back and eating buckwheat, quinoa, and sweet potato is wasn’t exactly ticking off that many boxes for me.
Richard – Then COVID and lockdown happened and all the restaurants shut down. And I was like if I don’t do it now, I never will. I just stopped eating everything that I was eating and I had buckwheat, quinoa, sweet potato, leafy greens, mung bean sprouts, and a bunch of other things. And I did that for probably about three months straight and that’s all I ate. When you describe me as a problem solver, at first I was a bit of a lazy problem solver because I couldn’t be bothered going through the process of reintroducing fruits. This is also hard so I’ll just stick to the buckwheat and quinoa. And with that, I wasn’t getting any better but I wasn’t getting any worse. I was still pumping an antiinflammatory every couple of days and I had horrible days throughout that sort of march to September. Within that entire sort of four, five, six months and it was diabolical. For example, I would get up out of bed, but I can’t get up out of bed. I would wake up and I’m like, how am I going to get out of bed? And the idea of just the idea of getting up out of bed, and getting myself down to the bathroom to go to the toilet and have a shower. It was just too hard and I was like hanging onto the furniture to get down. At that time, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t straighten or bend my leg and it was just excruciatingly painful.
Clint – Let us know which of your joints were affected.
Richard – Probably at that point, 90% was in my right knee and the other 10% was in my right ankle. It had moved down and we’ll circle back to this point as it did move into my right ankle. Eventually, it moved into my right wrist and into my left elbow. At that point I thought, I have to do something here because this is now spreading and I’ve heard this can happen. And here I am trying to do this all on my own without medication while also not listening to my doctors.
Clint – Hang on, weren’t you on the methotrexate?
Richard – Yeah, but it wasn’t doing anything. Then the rheumatologists said that I’ve got to tweak my own medications in there and we’ve got to work our way out. So my understanding was I was on a low dose of the lowest medication, which was methotrexate, and that’s kind of what he may be saying. Then, I wasn’t going back to the rheumatologist because I probably didn’t trust him based on that original response that he gave me that now impacted these sorts of issues. I just sat on it and I think once it started spreading through my body more I was always hobbling around, but at least I had use of my arms. And when I woke up one morning and my wrist was gone and I’m like, oh my God, another one. I remember the first time it happened, I couldn’t turn the tap off and I couldn’t pick up my laptop. I couldn’t keep my laptop up, so I had to do it with two hands and I do feel I’m in trouble. And I thought it’s time to do something about this.
Richard – I went and saw my GP, I got a GP for the first time in my life. I wanted to build up a bit of history because I’m like I got health problems (inaudible) building up a team around me. Then, I called the GP and told him what was happening, and he gave me a list of probably five rheumatologists. I told him the story with my previous rheumatologist. And I said, look, I need someone that’s more open-minded than what he was. He gave me a list of five and I remember I took that away, this was during lockdown. I drove straight to the beach down in Port Melbourne, where I’m spending most of my days in lockdown and I was always doing cold therapy. One of the things that I was trying to get on was the cold temperature by doing the Wim Hof stuff. Then, they gave me a list and one name stood out. His name was Daniel Lewis and I reckon he might be my guy. So anyway, I jumped on my phone, Googled him, and then I book him out. He was Daniel Lewis Rheumatologist in Kilda and he has a web page, which is awesome. And on his web page, there was stuff about mindfulness, diet, and natural healing remedies. And I was like, this is my man I like this. Then, I called the receptionist which her name is Tina and she was just lovely. And that was a massive shift from my previous rheumatologist who’s receptionist, was awful to me. The receptionist made me feel guilty for ringing up with a question and I wouldn’t put me through it. In short, it was a wholly negative experience but the other receptionist was wonderful and she was really nice. Then I said, I’m pleading with you and I need to see Daniel. And I rattled off everything because Daniel and I had in common like he had something things he had some Ramdas videos on there and all this sort of spiritual stuff. And some people might call it mumbo jumbo, but I like it and I like this man. I need to speak to this guy and she said, I’ll squeeze you in. He was fully booked but I think I told a compelling enough case to get squeezed in. And I went and saw him and he was just wonderful, just a really amazing guy. And he straightaway referred me to a hypnotherapist, which was cool. I had an alternative therapy and I had a couple of sessions with him. He was trying to detach my mind from the pain and I did this before. I just didn’t realize that’s what I was doing but I was actually doing that. I was really trying to detach from the pain of this disease and not get stuck. I didn’t have any problems with the two sessions because I was already doing that stuff in my mind. (Inaudible) these are all things that people should try. Like I mean, it’s just nice to have that mindset and I just got so much confidence that I’ll heal. Then he said, we need to do to get you up 25 milligrams of methotrexate. I did take some methotrexate but I eventually stopped taking it. But either way, it wasn’t doing anything. Then, I went up to 25 milligrams of methotrexate and I needed to be on three months before I was eligible for the next class of medication, which are the biologics. He advised me to take Rinvoq which I am currently taking now. Rinvoq is not a biological drug but it’s in the family of biologics, as it describes and it’s called JAK inhibitors. And I had to be on 25 milligrams of methotrexate before I qualify for that drug. I went to injectable methotrexate throughout and it made a difference because the absorption rate might be a little higher, but I didn’t make any difference. Then he put me on your favorite and everyone’s favorite Prednisolone, is that how you say it?
Clint – Actually, there is Prednisone and then there is Prednisolone, and they are slightly different.
Richard – Yeah, I can’t remember which was it. I took it and he started me on 20 milligrams in the first week and in the second week 35 milligrams. I think by the time of the fourth week I was eligible to start on the Rinvoq. Then I taped it to five milligrams of Prednisolone or maybe it was seven and a half. And then he said stay on that for a few more weeks and I’ll never forget it. The first day I took the very first tablet of Rinvoq was life-changing. I felt really free and I also felt that this is promising. And the next day I woke up, I really feel good. And within a few days, I don’t think I need the Prednisolone anymore. So I just completely stopped taking that from seven and a half. From there, I honestly haven’t looked back like I wake up pain-free every single day. I live a completely normal life, aside from the fact that I can’t run the way I used to run, I’m still walking around. But it’s like being completely life-changing and it’s been incredible for me. Absolutely incredible and that’s where I am today.
Clint – Yeah, it’s a very interesting story. I want to go through a bunch of questions that I got for you but I also am mindful that we want to hear about your sort of lessons learned. Let’s just quickly clear out a couple of questions I had. Was your knee still massively inflamed when you started the Rinvoq and did it clear all that inflammation?
Richard – It was inflamed when I started the Rinvoq, but I think the Prednisolone really helped a lot.
Clint – Yeah, that makes sense.
Richard – Once when I was again on the Prednisolone I was always pretty good. From the day that I started 20 milligrams of prednisolone, I was always pretty good like that really knocked out 90 percent of the pain. Yeah.
Clint – And then, there were only a few days of overlap and then you were able to stop the steroid completely. Question number two, were you also able to cease using the Methotrexate because of the new tablet?
Richard – Yeah, I stopped using that straight away. I stopped using the Methotrexate as soon as I started the Rinvoq but that wasn’t necessarily the advice. He said, stay on that but I felt okay just being on the Prednisolone. I wouldn’t say I was fine but I was much better. So I’m like, there’s no point taking the methotrexate as well. So once it got the Rinvoq in, I stopped that.
Clint – And how long has it been? I could look this up myself, but how long has it been since you started the Rinvoq?
Richard – I started taking Rinvoq at the start of January.
Clint – Okay. Which is plenty of time also to have clear methotrexate from your system. Because as we’re speaking today, it’s the 10th of May, so that takes us four months, right?
Richard – It’s five months I think because I started January until today.
Clint – Yeah, your right five months. I have couple more questions for you. What do you think triggered this? Because you said you had a nice lifestyle or a vegan lifestyle and you are doing Bikram all the time? I’m sure you’ve pondered many hours as to what’s triggered it. In the sense of science, it says it can be just an infection. We can get overgrowth of certain pathogens in our body that can trigger this. It can be a breakdown of the microbiome through other reasons. Did you think back and looked at your early childhood? Were you not breastfed? Were you cesarean at birth? Did you take antibiotics for acne for a long period or for other reasons? Have you gone down that path and really search for an answer? Because it’s very strange in your case.
What Triggered Richard’s RA
Richard – My mom has rheumatoid arthritis and that’s the first thing, and that’s the obvious one. Is it the HLA-B27 or is it something like that?
Clint – Look I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure but you could be right. I haven’t looked into genetics of it and I’m not that sure.
Richard – I think the original report said I carry this gene called HLA-B27. And if you carry that, you have to carry that to contract this illness, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to contract it. My mom has a history of rheumatoid arthritis. I took Roaccutane for acne when I was probably in my teenage years. Well, I actually took antibiotics for a period of time for acne throughout my teenage years.
Clint – I think we don’t need to look any further.
Richard – The Roaccutane is a horrible drug and that was not pleasant. Roaccutane was another acne drug and I don’t know if you heard it already.
Clint – I’ve heard of it.
Richard – Yeah, that’s like a real heavy one and that’s probably like the Prednisolone for acne, and people can go crazy about it. I had that but I didn’t take much medication because I’ve always been medication adverse. I would only pop a pill like paracetamol if I really was sick.
Clint – This is so similar to me. I’m sorry, I just want to draw some real parallels here. Can you tell me how old are you now?
Richard – I’m 40 and just turned 40.
Clint – So if we want back to sort of 38 when you were diagnosed. I was diagnosed at 31, but we have such a similar situation. Because the antibiotics as a teenager, I didn’t have the genetic predisposition because none of my family knew what it was. And we completely underestimate the catastrophic impact of these teenage antibiotic use. Because what happens is we compound the damage that we do as a teenager with those antibiotics. By then living a 20s lifestyle it’s the worst years of eating. When your partying or drinking or some people taking recreational drugs. Then there’s lack of sleep and everything associated with living a wild 20s. And they never recover because there’s never a period of good eating to follow those antibiotics. And so it’s taken you longer than it did me to develop a serious health condition. And maybe that’s because you were living a more of a preventative lifestyle in your 30s with your plant-based diet, and you’re going to Bikram all the time. And perhaps that actually prolonged what was on the cards. And then also, if your lifestyle was eating out a lot as we continue just to look for a couple more answers before we move on. Every meal you’ll eat at a restaurant will have oil in it and it would be one in a thousand restaurants with meals that would not have oil in it. This is just pure salad or a veggie salad, which no one will eat because there are no calories in it and because everything is cooked in oil. So you’re taking a lot of oil, probably not even aware of how much oil if you’re eating out a lot. I feel like I’m satisfied with my own curiosity as to how this came about. It just helps the mind trying to get some answers as to why. I can’t tell you how much I hear about antibiotics as a teenager in the links to future problems, it should be outlawed.
Richard – Yeah. The other thing that I would add to that is something I’ve heard on a couple of your podcasts. Throughout my 30s, I worked insanely hard like really long into the night hours building businesses and I was just like intensely at it. I’ve heard you talk about this as well, but this is a bit of a common factor as well with the people that get this.
Clint – Well, I can’t say that I’ve identified a case where we have a conversation like with yourself right now, where someone has said just from that it has happened. But that is a stressor in a stressed environment. It’s just another stressor, isn’t it? First of all, you’ve wiped out a whole bunch of your Amazon rainforest by putting the bulldozers through, and with you it’s antibiotics. And then you’ve never allowed any regrowth to occur for the next 10 years throughout the 20s. And I don’t mean to imply that you party more than anyone else. Because normally the 20s is sort of a fun time and then into the early 30s. You’ve just said that you’ve applied more stress to that and sleep impacts the microbiome. So, we’ve taken away a healing part of natural living. And then you’ve added stress on top of that, which also negatively impacts the microbiome. The studies on that are amazingly powerfully impactful. It’s a real negative impact on the microbiome. Even positive related stress is still stress and it’s still anxiety, it’s still in. It’s a good point that you’ve made the 30s wouldn’t have helped. You’re not resting and you’re not just living a balanced life, isn’t it? We compare that to sort of regions of the world that still doesn’t tend to get any inflammatory arthritis. I’m talking about some sort of rural community or primitive living. Wherein, nothing’s processed, everything’s simple, you go to bed because it’s dark and you haven’t got any lighting. There are still some communities where this is still happening and they don’t have any traces of autoimmunity. Thank you for answering all those questions for me. Hit me with a bunch of things that you’ve learned and things that you recommend people try that worked out for you. We obviously seen that you’ve tried a lot of medications and found only one family that’s been transformative.
The Importance Of Exercise
Richard – I wrote down a couple of things. I just have to say, diet does make a difference. I’m probably different from most people and I’ve heard a couple of people that were vegan when they were on your podcast. I think the majority had more of an animal-based diet with obviously varying degrees of quality around the animal-based diet, but I was basically plant-based. About a month ago, I got a 15 year old daughter and she had a party at my place and she had about six or eight girls over. They loaded the house with sugar, chips and all sorts of rubbish biscuits. Basically, all sorts of crap that I’d never buy or very seldom put into my body. Because I just don’t bring it into the house because I don’t trust myself with it. It was there and I ate my fair share of biscuits, chips, and all the crap that they brought into the house. And I paid the price for a couple of days and I could really feel my joints weren’t as good as what they were even on this medication. So straight away, it’s just further confirmation that diet is essential. Exercise is the other thing and this is something that I probably underestimated. So when I contracted this disease in twenty nineteen, I did kind of have this theory that I’ll rest. And I was kind of listening to you on emphasizing the importance of exercise. But I didn’t actually take your medicine I had the diet going well but I wasn’t actually exercising. I mean it’s an excuse but it was too hard to exercise because I was too so sore. It was things I could have done but I wasn’t doing it because I was too sore. I mean, this is just all the parts of it. But you think you said that exercise is 50% of it and diet is the other 50%. But I just can’t agree with that at all. I would almost put exercise in front now, in terms of where I’m at right now. For example, I rode my bike from the days that I got the Prednisolone and it kind of took the edge off it and free me up. I pretty much rode my bike almost every day for four months over summer. And I was sort of just doing a little bit of resistance stuff and a few weights every day, not just 10, 15, or 20 minutes. It’s not that much, but just enough to keep some strength up. But I sort of stopped again like about a week ago. I started to get cold down here in Melbourne, and a week and a half ago I didn’t ride my bike for four or five days. I had a bit going on it and I could feel after the four or five days of not doing my exercise. I got my ankle so sore and I’m like it’s back again and I knew that I didn’t exercise. But I did something a little bit shaky and I still had my Prednisolone and I took 10 milligrams of that. And that took the inflammation out of my ankle but my knee was a little bit sore and I just got back on my bike. I ride every day to speed bit by bit and it’s gotten better each day, and it’s awesome again now. It just reconfirms the importance of exercise. Then, I had a magnificent diet last year when I was doing your program. I was eating so clean but I wasn’t exercising anywhere near as much and I wasn’t getting the results. Then you said on the podcast, if you do not do the exercise then don’t expect good results.
Clint – Actually this morning, I just interviewed TJ, a woman from Nashville, and the episode will likely come out just before this one. She just did the diet with not a lot of exercise. Then, she noticed that she’s 95% perfect after just the diet. And while she says that she does do some exercise, it’s not the extent that you and I are talking about here. Therapeutic exercise is getting the heart rate up and it’s getting some sweating going if we can. It is done at least a couple of times a week so that we get that detoxification of heavy metals and pesticides. If we’re not seeing results, then what’s missing? It’s not the next supplement it’s not whether or not Apple works in our diet or not. It’s can we get on a stationary bike and get a sweat up that day, and that is going to shift the needle and it is going to be the answer. And if we can barely move, move what we can and get your neck moving. And then if you can move your shoulders, get the shoulders into it, some people dance. There’s even a study, would you believe it, of people with rheumatoid arthritis who went through dancing for over several weeks and reduced their inflammatory markers. So I wouldn’t imagine it would be like but it’s going to be helpful for these individuals. Whatever it might be, move it!
Richard – And that brings me to my next point that you have to commit to trying everything. This is how I wrote it, you have to commit to trying everything and everyone responds differently to different things so that we go ahead on this morning. This is the thing that I’ve learned and this is why your podcasts are so valuable. Because there are so many different ideas and I just had this belief that I was going to heal. I would do whatever it took and try literally anything to heal. And I was going to continue to try stuff until I found what worked and that probably sits at the top. I can’t say I feel natural, but let’s just talk about healing because that’s step one which is healing. If you want to heal, you have to just try stuff like if it doesn’t work, then find other things that can work. Because it’s so disheartening when you hear people on your podcast change their diet overnight and straight away all the symptoms vanish into thin air. I was like that didn’t happen to me and it would be really easy to give up there, and that is not the approach that I would recommend to anyone that wants it to heal. For example, I just tried so many things that I continue to do everything. I sent you an e-mail skipping Ahead a little bit, but I sent you an email. I put it in the forum a few weeks ago that my CRP and SED rate are one. What did I say? Was it one or zero?
Clint – I’ll bring that up while you keep talking.
Richard – I already forgot it but it was the lowest value.
Clint – I’ve found it, so your CRP is one. And in Australia, for international listeners, CRP of one in Australia means milligram per liter, not milligram per deciliter, as it often is in the United Kingdom. But that’s very low and it’s probably as low as the measurement was taken. Wherein, we would have actually had a decimal place on that. My last measurement was 0.5, so it can be measured below one. But here’s the thing that you’re referencing actually is the SED rate. So your SED rate is one millimetre per hour, and I’ve never seen that once or twice before. I think that it cannot go lower because there actually has to be some separation of the blood, so gravity is pulling that apart. I don’t think you can go lower than that. Basically, your blood markers are impeccable.
Richard – And look, I’m convinced that it’s because I try everything and I still do a lot. I do not rely too much on medication and I don’t take it for granted at all. I do not take it for granted that my health will be as bad as it is. I’ve still got healing to do and I want to run again properly. I mean, there’s so much room for growth and I guess that’s it. Just try as many things as you can and listen to as many podcasts as you can. They are in your community, share your story and read other people’s stories because there’s just so much wisdom in there. And what works for one does not work for the others.
Clint – Let me just underline that point again about having to try everything. It’s sort of under the category also of never giving up and just continuing to search until you find something that works. Sometimes I would get this email once a week from someone and it would be, Clint I’ve watched your information online and I’ve decided to try your program because it’s my last hope, and this is it for me. If this doesn’t work, I’ve got nothing left. Now, I have this feeling when I read that it’s just the wrong approach to go into this because this Paddison Program is almost the mindset shift that you have to continue to explore on your own. Yes, the diet, exercise, mindset, stress reduction, supplements, how to manage your medications, and so on are there. It’s there, but there’s almost an infinite level of things that you can try to the level you’ve done. For example, if that medication doesn’t work, then try the next until you got it right. Then once you get your inflammation under control, then the diet and then the other lifestyle changes can actually have much more impact. And until then, if you’re highly inflamed like you were with your knee or when you are really inflamed that self cycles, that inflammation is coexistent with gut inflammation. Then it creates more leaky got you’ve got a cycling effect. Oxidative stress is through the roof because your immune systems engage which generates free radicals. So the whole thing needs to be brought back into alignment for those natural things to have an impact. And so, when I hear I’m going to try this and then I’m given up and that’s it. No, we should never think like that. There’s always a way to improve no matter how bad we are. There’s always another step that can bring us a little closer to being better.
Richard – Couldn’t agree more!
Clint – What’s your next point?
Richard – The next one is the mindset. You pretty much said it and I’ll just restate it with my own words. I never doubted and I still don’t doubt that I’ll be running another ultramarathon in the wilderness or at some point down the track. Like I would want to walk around without pain. I get up every morning and I’m not stiff. I have the quality of life back, but I still can’t run and I can’t run properly at all. For instance, I did run around on the beach the other day and I ended up getting up to 4km. I texted you about that and I got 4km worth of distance on the beach. But I did pull up a bit sore after that and maybe I went a little bit too far. I just don’t doubt that I will heal because I’ve heard so many people on your podcast that had been healing. So many stories where it’s taken years and these people don’t give up. And they still believe that they are going to be healed even after three, or four, or five years down the track. And I’m in 18 months of healing and I would dream three or four nights a week that I’m actually running. The dream was so vivid that I’d wake up and I’m like, that was a dream. But I’m so fixated on this idea of getting out of running again and just being able to run my whole life like I always ran. And that was taken off me and I don’t have anything to complain about anymore. If I don’t run again, that’s fine because I have an amazing quality of life now. I think the mindset is everything because if your mind in the right spot or if your mind truly believes that you will keep turning over stones until you find what works for you, I think that’s the key. There is no give up and it doesn’t even enter your mind. It’s like it’s going to happen and it’s just a case of when. And that’s all you can do, but you can’t do anything else apart from that if you want to heal. Because everyone’s journeys are different and timelines are also different.
Clint – That’s right, it becomes a healthy obsession or if your partner is involved, maybe they’d call it an unhealthy obsession. It’s because they can’t quite comprehend how obsessed we become about it. This may not be as relevant to other people, but for you specifically, go, follow the work and check out John Maclean. He spent many years in a wheelchair and my friend Cameron does all the video editing for all of his triathlons and all this stuff that he does in a wheelchair, and he also competes in a wheelchair. Then, technology now has assisted him with his own incredible mind set and determination to try and get him walking again, and he also hopes to run. This is happening and this is like defying even modern science. And so I just brought up his website it’s, www.JohnMaclean.com.au. Go and check it out, if you want to look at someone who’s in a more of a defying the odds situation. Then go and check it out and I think you’ll find it inspirational.
Get A Doctor Who Believes
Richard – The next one I wrote down was, get a great doctor who believes you can heal naturally. You really need a team behind you that believes in you because that will tie back into your mindset. If your doctors don’t believe it, it’s going to be very difficult for you to believe it and eventually you’ll get whittled away. So you’ve got to surround yourself with people who do believe like I cannot emphasize enough. Just keep finding the perfect rheumatologist till you find one. A doctor who talks your language and if you’re in Australia, call Daniel Lewis. And we’ve got telehealth now and you can probably call him from any state in the country.
Clint – Did he outright say that, that he believes there’s an opportunity for you one day to need no less or no medications to manage your condition or did he not go as far as that?
Richard – He just said, let see it possible but I’m not looking too far into the future for that. Like I’m trying to build and rebuild strength in my leg, trying to rebuild my calf muscle which disintegrated (inaudible), and I’m just doing quality of life. To me, there are no side effects of this medication and I’m okay to be on it. And I’m actually Anti-medication because I don’t want to be on medication. But don’t wait too long to take medication and I think that it’s ok. I can only speak for myself, but if I had my time again, I probably wouldn’t do it any differently. I tried my best to heal naturally without medication but it didn’t work. If I got on medication quicker, maybe it wouldn’t have spread it to these other parts. But I tried and I could live with that I did try, but I would be reluctant. I wouldn’t advise anyone to not take medication because you might just find that you get only quality of life back. And for me, it was also an ego thing. Like it was very much tied to my ego that I was going to be able to heal naturally. And I was a really healthy guy and I was always plant-based. And I’ll be able to do all this naturally because I’ll just work it out. And I really resisted a lot, but to be honest, I resisted a lot for that. And again, it’s all just part of the reflection that I would do too much differently. I think the timeline was pretty good but just a little note in there. Some people are very stubborn with their medication but don’t be and don’t cut off your nose to spite your face, as they say.
Clint – Again more parallelisms between you and me. I waited 12 months before going on methotrexate and my symptoms were absolutely extraordinarily bad. In the elbows, wrists, ankles, fingers, left, knee, feet, jaw, and in the chest. I mean, I was in a nightmare before I started methotrexate after just one year and that shouldn’t have been as long as it was. I was on Methotrexate for three and a half years and without that goodness knows how bad it is. I couldn’t agree more on that and don’t postpone. If you’re not winning the battle and you’re trying everything, then just straight up straight ahead.
Richard – You had a great analogy that that really stuck with me. The analogy around your house being on fire. I think by the time I finally listen to my doctors, my house was on fire and I was trying to combat it. I try to combat it with diet alone and a little bit of exercise, but not much. It was like trying to put it out with buckets of water and it just wasn’t going to happen. I think you said that somewhere along the line and that really stuck out. I was probably trying to put it out with buckets of water for that whole year.
Clint – Just enjoy exploring that metaphor a bit more. I think if we were eating a poor diet and not exercising, then that’s basically throwing gasoline on the fire. So at least you were throwing buckets of water, but they are too small to combat the big flames.
Clint – Can you tell me one more thing about the medication? You mentioned having the right rheumatologist. Do you find it curious that he had this Rinvoq in mind for you? When he put you on methotrexate as though it was going to be the drug he wanted to put you on in due course if methotrexate didn’t work? Because I must say, it’s not one that comes up that much in discussions. So could you speak to that, whether it be something that he is particularly passionate about as a medication without wanting to put words in his mouth? Of course, just your feeling on that and also more of a new release of a drug?
Richard – Yeah, he describes this new kid on the block. I don’t know how many people he gives it to and I also don’t know which boxes I take to get it. But he describes it as a kid on the block if he’s getting great results with it.
Clint – I think a lot of people will be paying attention to that aspect of our conversation today and asking their rheumatologist about it. The attractiveness of being able to take a pill as opposed to injecting and I think that’s highly appealing. Just like biologic drugs, they’re just seeming to be more and more. I know you said it’s sort of quasi biologic but these are immune-modulating drugs or immunosuppressants. And with this technology, I do feel that one day the norm becomes as opposed to the graduation place that we’re heading towards. As some other rheumatologists put it but I won’t call it that. But some of the cheaper drugs like sulfasalazine or methotrexate that’s been around for decades. I wanted to find out about that drug as well because I think a lot of people are interested in it. So things might get us back on track and then we’ll close this one out.
The Importance of Support
Richard – I was just going to say, it is important to have someone to support you. For example, if you listen to this podcast, this is a shout-out to you and your group if you’re not in the group, I would definitely recommend getting in the group. Because the thing is, you don’t know what you don’t know and it’s just little things. For example, I started off about 70kg on March 20 when I started officially started the program. And I’ll drop down to 61kg in about a month, so I dropped nine kilos really quickly. Luckily we were all locked down and not that many people saw me. Because a lot of people would have been pretty worried about me and I know you’ve talked about that as well, but it’s just little things. You think that someone my age who’s exercised most their life with the connection that, if you don’t do weights and put resistance on your body, that you won’t put the weight back on. And it’s like you said, do some weights and it’s a good idea. I think because your whole reality has basically shot itself and the whole playbook that you’ve lived your whole life is going out the window. It’s like you’re dealing with this whole other way of living and it’s like everything that used to work no longer works. Then, when you said that you want to put on some weight and I find it very difficult to put on weights. I just didn’t really make the connection that I should be doing weights. The other thing you said to do was drink a lot of orange juice but for some reason, I didn’t figure that out. But the orange juice is a drink and it is calorie-dense, is that what it is? But anyway, I just started drinking lots of orange juice after every meal, and my wife started going straight back within the course of probably two or three months. I was back up to sort of mid 65kg, 66kg, or 67kg and I’m back up, I’m actually about 71kg now. I’m slightly above the weight that I started at just over 12 months ago. So it’s tiny and these are obviously just tiny little things. But without being in that group, I wouldn’t have found out these things. I mean, the weights one are obvious because your mind is going so many different directions. Sometimes you do miss the obvious and you probably say this a lot. For you to see so many people with so many different experiences, you can really see some things that we can’t because we’re just too close to it. And then more excuses like I don’t know whether everyone will get orange juice. To me, that’s not super obvious, and if I didn’t know whether I could actually have orange juice because I was on the baseline diet. It’s little things like that and they’re just two examples I wrote down. There are probably a couple more but I guess coming back to the other point, everyone’s circumstances are different. And those were two things to me that helped me get my weight back up in that instance but everyone’s got a different situation. If you committed to healing, spend a few hundred dollars a year and it costs as many questions as you want because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to go to a rheumatologist.
Clint – Well said. And to put some context around that orange juice recommendation and also the weight situation. Keep in mind, as people listening to this, these are recommendations based on your specific circumstances and based on other feedback that you’d provided about your tolerability to certain things. These aren’t blanket recommendations to everyone to go and start drinking orange juice. There are certain circumstances where it’s a good idea and there are certain circumstances where it’s best to make a different intervention. But in your case, that was a calculated suggestion and it’s proved good.
Clint – Thank you, these things are sensational things. Thank you for that shout-out to our support group. I cannot think of a better place in the world that someone should be if they have inflammatory arthritis. And that’s just a truthful statement and as you said, it’s a few hundred bucks a year. But if that saves you, it can improve your life so much and I think it’s a good investment. It just reflects the time, attention, and care that myself and the other people who are in there acting as coaches in helping everyone. Thanks for that and I appreciate it. These are really interesting stuff, any final thoughts before we wrap up? We’ve given people a lot of great information and I hope people have really enjoyed these insights. But is there anything that’s sort of seemingly missing here?
Richard – I would just like to say probably just the last thing I would like to say. There were many days last year where I would get up, I’ll get myself down to the shower, get myself dressed, and that felt like my day was done. Like I was exhausted and I would flop on my couch and I’d lie there. There were also days where I’m thinking is this going to be my life for the next 40 years. There’s no point being and this is not a quality of life. I know that so many people feel that it’s horrible and probably not the worst disease you can have, but it’s probably always someone worse off. I’ll just remember those days where I’m like there is no point in being alive. But what I did was I gave myself or I gifted myself just the tiniest little bit of space to believe, that whatever was happening to me now was happening for a reason and that it needed to happen. Whilst I could see that reason right now, I trusted the universe and I trusted what was being given to me. I have more than enough evidence to suggest that the universe knows what’s right for me and I just let go, and I gave that tiny little bit of space. Everything is perfect as it is right now, even in those darkest times. Yes, I think for an hour, I’d lie there, and sometimes I would cry at home on my own with intense pain and seemingly no prospects to recover. And just that tiny little bit of space gave me that glimmer of hope to start curling myself back out of that hole. I guess the thing I’m most proud of is that whilst I went through those incredibly difficult times, I never got stuck in the hole. It was because I gifted myself that space just to believe that it’s ok. This is happening for a reason a this is something to be learned. And I learned so much like I value my health so much now. I’m so much healthier than when I was pre-arthritis. I don’t have the body movement that I did have, but I’m healthier. I’m far more grateful for a body that works really well, doesn’t work perfectly, but it works really well. And given that I had my health taken away from me it’s not a bad thing that it happened, because now I have the perspective that health doesn’t last forever. And if I don’t do everything right today, wherein I’m 40 and also for younger people, we’re all in the same position if you don’t do what’s right for you today. Then somewhere along the line, you might pay to pay the price down the track. It was almost like a wake-up call to say, health is valuable and health is the most important thing. It is almost the most important thing and nothing else really matters if you don’t have your health. It’s very difficult to have a great quality of life and I have been gifted everything that I could ever wish for in this existence. My health was taken away and that was the only thing that I really value the most. So I have put that in perspective, it’s just so worth fighting for it. I just really hope that anyone that might be listening to this, in a world of pain and I know people have it worse than me. But at the same time, there’s always someone worse than you as well. You just have to have believe that it’s possible and you have to give yourself a little bit of space to understand everything. No matter what’s happening right now in your situation, it’s perfect as it is right now it’s ok.
Clint – I love it and those were beautiful words. Thank you for those final thoughts. Because I think that encapsulates a position that so many of us are in or have been in and dealing with. You have experienced all that being in those challenging times and still allowed yourself. As you said, that little permission to imagine a better time and that better time has come. Thank you for sharing everything that you’ve learned with us. It’s been a busy 18 months for these last 18 months. All the ups and downs, challenges, and things you’ve learned are quite extraordinary. And I hope everyone today has found this valuable. So thanks, Rich, and I look forward to keeping up this the next chapter of your journey online.
Richard – Thank you so much for being so generous with changing the course of your reality to bring this program to life. You had a lot going on and it did some incredible things. I heard your podcast with Simon Hill, that’s where I found you, the Plant Proof Podcast. Your story is incredible and it’s just such a generous thing that you do. It’s a very generous thing that you do to give hope to all of us out here that have suffered or are suffering. The world’s a better place because you’re doing what you do for people like us, so thank you.
Clint – Thank you very much. We’ve had a wonderful time and I’m going to let you go now. I know you’ve got a flight you have to organize at some point soon and you’re on the road traveling. So thanks so much and as I said, we’ll speak online and appreciate all your time.