We discuss in this interview:
- Karra’s RA condition since she was 11
- How Karra spaced Humira from 14 days to 90+ days without developing antibodies or RA symptoms
- Having a supportive rheumatologist
- Which foods help the most
- Her experience with Methotrexate and Remicade
- Exercise and the link to RA reduction
- Taking control of the causes of inflammation
- The importance of having support
- Jill Zouzoulas, MD | Tryon Medical Partners | 704-489-3094 | She is licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina
Clint – Welcome everyone to today’s episode. We’re speaking with Karra, and she had rheumatoid arthritis for a very long time. But we are going to dwell on the positives and the inspirational period of that time, the most. Which is the last period where she has transformed her life by shifting to the Paddison Program and making a lot of lifestyle changes. And we’ve just been discussing the significant amount of improvements and it’s phenomenal. And so Kara is going to share her story and what worked for her, what she’s doing, and why the future looks so much better at the moment after making these changes. So Kara, thank you so much for coming on this episode.
Karra – Oh, it is a great pleasure. It is something that I look forward to and was kind of a goal of mine from the beginning. Super, super excited, just like you said, to have that arthritis when I was very young as 11 years old. And there’s just a lot of years of struggling, not being able to figure out why is my body doing this, and some dark days. And then after finding your program and making changes and work, obviously things are totally different to where I feel like I’m now in control of my body and control of the disease rather than controlling me. And just such a brighter perspective and so much better, I’m feeling so much better in life in general.
The Feeling Of Freedom From Pain
Clint – You get a sense of excitement, I use that would I’ve thought this through very carefully whenever I’ve felt absolutely perfect in terms of like zero inflammation. And there are times when I haven’t and so when the times when it feels like, I’ve absolutely got these. Those times I best describe as excitement, because you just think of the possibilities. You think of the lack of heaviness, the lack of worry, and the lack of concern. Would you describe it as excitement at the moment or what other words would you use?
Karra – I think that it feels like freedom like I feel like, for so much of my life it was like dragging this heavy thing along with me, but it was me struggling. And having a hard time walking or hurting me. So my hands are, oh, I can’t do that because of my joints or just getting in my way all the time. So I feel like this freedom in this there’s this joy of being able to do what I want to do.
Clint – How much would you say that your life, given that you were diagnosed at 11? How much of your mind and thought has been consumed by this health condition?
Karra – A lot I mean, I don’t think of myself as one that would dwell on my condition like that. It’s not my personality, but it was just something that would get in the way. When you’re trying to get from point A to point B, you’re trying to do something or you got to think about your medication or you’re constantly going to the doctor and they don’t have good news for you. And so there’s just a lot of disappointment and this kind of dark cloud. And it’s kind of like that dark cloud is gone and it’s exciting.
Karra’s Current Health Status
Clint – Yeah, absolutely. So where you’re at at the moment, let’s talk about that and then we’ll hit the rewind button and take us back to the start of your journey. But first, tell us about what’s currently going on with your medical treatment. And I want people to understand that you’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for thirty eight years. Okay, so let’s let’s put this into perspective now. OK, so we’ve had some guests on the show and they say after a couple of years and now medication free, and I don’t have any pain in my joints and I live in exactly normal life. Well, some of those guests may have had RA for, say, less than eight years. So we’re talking 38 years ago, it’s a different condition, a different situation. But having said that, where you’re at at the moment?
Karra – Well, for the last three years I’ve been on Humaira and for the last two years, I’ve been taking my injections not weekly, but every two to four months. So I’ve stretched it out quite a bit in between and I’ve gone as long as five months at a time without it. And it’s not like I’m hurting and like trying to stretch it out. It’s like I just don’t need the drug so it’s been fantastic. I have an amazing rheumatologist and I love our shout out to her because there are so many that are bad, and over my decades of arthritis, I’ve had bad ones. My previous rheumatologist told me just point blank to my face, what you eat doesn’t affect your joints in any way. And I just thought you got to get your head out of the Stone Ages and wake up because that’s not where we’re at. So but it takes a long time I’ve heard 17 years for clinical research to actually get into mainstream medicine. The office where they’re actually prescribing and telling you what to do, so it took about 17 years anyway. She is a fabulous rheumatologist and she has been so patient with me. I’ve gone on to call some drug holidays where you start and stop your drug over the years. But I always come crawling back like, give me the drugs, and now it’s not like that. So the most recent time when I was like a year ago, little more than a year ago, she just said, whatever you’re doing is working and you need to keep doing what you’re doing. I actually have a quote from her where she said that she believes that medical advances in gut immunology will be the greatest game changer for rheumatology in the future. So she is like onboard, like, this is the real thing. She even remembered your name the next time I went back like you still on that Paddison program. And I gave her the handout that you give to us and for physicians and so she is on board. She doesn’t exactly know what to do with me because she said she’s just got a handful of patients that can stretch up to like maybe four weeks, I’m going four months. OK, she’s like all I know to do is we’re going to see if you have antibodies forming for the Humira because if you do, it’s going to stop working. But if you don’t, then you can stretch it out no problem, no antibodies. So we’re just on the stretch out the program and it’s working great.
Clint – Absolutely brilliant, what an amazing woman, my rheumatologist is also an amazing man. So you need to have these health partners, you’re their partner aren’t they really? You’ve got all your partners around. You’ve got your loved ones who are partners in your healing journey, your friends, and you’re a member of rheumatoid supports that we’ve been all your partner for a long time as well. But to have the one that has the authority of the knowledge of your condition to also support what you’re doing, it’s so empowering. And I’m not sure if you joined us on the support call we had just a couple of days ago with Dr. Munoz or not. I don’t remember if I saw your name in the chat bar, but we were talking about two things in there relevant to what you’ve just said. And the first one was about the feeling that the rheumatologist with their position of power can influence how you feel between seeing them so much. Just one comment like, oh, I don’t think it’s going well for you and that can linger round and round around hundreds of times, played on repeat in your mind for the next few months until you see them again. So that was one thing that you touched upon and the power of having the physician give you encouragement and not false hope, but just if you’re doing well or to be given a pat on the back, it just means everything. And the fact that she’s willing to go in an area that she hasn’t been before by the end of it to say, look, Karra, you’re cutting some new ground here and I’m going to work with you and we’re going to see what happens. And the other aspect of that is that she’s not doing it and just sitting back and watching, measuring for the antibodies was the other thing that Dr. Munoz and our live call talked about. He talked about going off of a biologic drug and then coming back onto it, and what are the dangers of doing that? And he spoke about having the ability to test for anybody so you can test to see if your body’s going to develop an immunological response to the actual drug. And so you have just stepped in that same footprint as what we just spoke about just days ago, and that’s really cool. So she’s doing everything from a medical viewpoint to make sure what you’re doing is safe and you’re doing everything from the natural angle to make sure everything you’re doing keeps you as healthy as possible, so it’s a great problem.
Karra – One other thing that she actually brought up at one of our meetings. And I took notes because I never or I didn’t even remember this, but she pointed out that in reviewing my notes that the last time or a previous time that I had come off of the drugs or off of Humira, that I had ups and downs and I was kind of struggling. But this time I went from, like, struggling, taking the drug like nothing. And then I had this massive just inflammation of one joint. So she was like you’re making progress and she’s playing it to me. You’re you’re making progress because you didn’t have ups and downs in between. So it was almost like she was excited about the way things were going.
When Is Medication Now Needed?
Clint – There’s going to be some people listening to this and watching this. I wonder if she does tele medicine consultations so I won’t put you on the spot, but perhaps afterward you can email me and let me know. We might have a response before we publish this and ask her if she’d be interested. Because I know I’m going to get that question, who is Karra’s rheumatologist? So we’re building a library of awesome rheumatologists. I now have a handful and we can always add to the list, especially if they do telehealth consultations because of our worldwide audience. So that’s amazing to be able to spread out dosages of your Humira to such a long amount of time without getting symptoms. And you just said you got a reaction to one of your joints. Does it come on suddenly when you need to take a dose and do you decide when you’re going to do it?
Karra – It doesn’t usually come on suddenly usually it would be like a little bit of an ache. And I don’t jump right on the meds, right when I have a little bit of an ache. I kind of ramp up the exercise and I make sure to pull back on my diet if I have been being not wild but I will pull back on that and I give it some time. But like with this joint, it started with my left foot, and it started being aching. I was keeping tabs on what it was doing and then it just flew up. I mean, that was like this massive balloon and it was like, OK, this is just not happening. But none of my other joints hurt, which I’ve had joint pain in pretty much all my joints. I mean, I’ve had feet, knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, hands and I mean, it’s been everywhere. So the fact that it was only this one joint and it was like a pretty good swelling and that was the indicator, it’s time to get on. But when I went to the doctor and we were discussing being on the meds and when to take it, when not to take it. I said I don’t feel like I should take an injection if I’m not having inflammation or any pain. And she said, I totally agree with you and she also said, let’s face it out. She also said that, if you don’t have pain over two weeks, wait two weeks. If it’s three weeks, a month, if it’s two months, if it’s three months, just wait until you need it. And so I was just thrilled that she was on board with me and agreeing that, yeah, if you don’t need the drug, don’t take the drug. And she also told me that the effectiveness of the drug is two weeks. She said that it stays in your body and that’s written down. She said it has a half-life of six weeks, but the actual effectiveness is only two weeks. So whatever is happening it’s not that the drug is lasting longer for me.
Clint – It’s tremendous, it’s just sensational and I’m just still in awe of the situation. I mean, you would be kind of brought onto stage at a rheumatology conference and say, here is someone who’s going to blow your mind. And in front of you or in front of a group of four hundred rheumatology experts, your situation would raise four hundred eyebrows. And they would say, what? So she’s had it for nearly four decades and now she’s spacing Humira four months apart and not seeing symptoms often until three to four months.
Karra’s Healing Hacks
Clint – So let’s delve deeper into this, because in case someone’s first time on our podcast, they’re going to be wondering, well, what the heck is she done? Let’s go there. You’ve obviously changed to a plant-based diet. You’ve eliminated all especially cooking oils and oils in general in my recommendation. And you’ve increased your exercise, you’ve probably tried to improve your vitamin D levels, your quality of sleep, and interpersonal relationships to reduce stress. Can you say yes, if that’s the case across the board, and give examples of what your life looks like to achieve these results?
Karra – Ok, well absolutely. I mean, that’s the pattern, it’s not rocket science, and it’s not a gimmick. It’s just eating great food, exercise regularly, manage your stress, and take care of yourself. I mean, that’s what it looks like so a wholefood plant-based diet. I mean, right now I can eat a broad range of things. I eat some avocados and nuts or I got some fats in there and I seem to be fine. Really, the only food I found a problem with is quinoa, but everything else seems to be fine. I stay away from pretty much processed foods and I don’t eat any animal products and things like that. And I actually because I was on the drug when I started the program, started with the broad vegan diet. I didn’t start on the elimination thing because I didn’t have pain. So I was emailing you and that was kind of your recommendation, like start the Paddison program backward. So I did and then once I got pain, I jumped on to the elimination process in the beginning.
Clint – Yeah, makes sense. Do you emphasize anything in particular that you would consider to be sort of strategically extra healthy? So, for example, the green juices or sprouts or maybe soaking nuts or anything, that’s a little bit like a hard core healing sort of stuff.
Karra – I mean, I think the dark leafy greens are huge for me. I don’t do a lot of green smoothies, but I love making banana ice cream. I take frozen bananas, but I pack in a ton of kale, a ton of spinach. Maybe I’ll throw a date in there or something like that and just pack it in there. So that if I’m feeling any twinginess or whatever I’m like up the greens and there’s a salad every day in there. I love oatmeal at my breakfast is one of my favorite meals but those are probably my go to. So again, not rocket science.
Clint – Yeah, well, it’s not rocket science, but it’s not done by many people. It might be done by our audience or our community, but it’s the magic formula that’s not done by many. So, for example, if I’m just going to take a wild guess if we were to survey 100 people from the general public, who let’s say 100 people that come into the average rheumatologist. Maybe only 10 percent of them might have oatmeal for breakfast. And then if you say, well, how many of them get their recommended serving of leafy greens each day, that might only be two percent. And then what about the amount of leafy greens that we recommend on our program that you and I know is like the backbone of gut health, zero or lucky to get one. So this is the importance of us digging deeper into, what are you doing differently than everyone else? And, yes, all the things that I rattled off a moment ago and those, of course, are the things you’re doing. But what are the details here? What are the extra details? So I love that just reinforcement from as many of us as we can. It’s leafy greens that are King, its leafy greens that are Queen, and leafy greens that are Jack, ten, night, eights, you know what I mean? Come on, get these greens into you, so that’s awesome. And then you’re able to eat your oats. We did a podcast, I don’t know if you might recall, but it was a couple of years ago it was called Eat Your Oats with Dr. Richard Matthews. And he talks all about the benefits to the microbiome of oats, so you’re ticking the boxes. OK, what about on the or is there anything else, anything else about diet? I mean, do you snack between meals or do you eat big meals, do you eat after seven o’clock at night ever? Do you have fruits a lot besides you’re banana things? Anything else you can tell us.
Karra – I don’t snack much but sometimes I will then, but not a ton. And I drink a lot of water and I try not to eat late at night, I find that that really messed me up, messes up my sleep. And I also do so much better if I go to sleep after two or three hours of having a meal, so that’s really helpful.
Clint – Okay, good. All right. Now, just before we touch upon, say, what you’re doing on the exercise front. I do want to give a little justice to all the things that you might have been through in the past. Just so that we can get an idea of some of that without going into sort of like a bit of a downer, but I mean eleven years old. Do you think, first of all, that you know what triggered it with all the knowledge you’ve learnt in the last couple of years, do you think that it was because your mum drank a ton of cow’s milk, when you were inside her tummy, or do you think it was antibiotic use in early years or were you never breastfed? What were the risk factors you think, in your case, if there are any?
Karra – I don’t have any idea what triggered it I mean if I was breastfed and I don’t think I had high antibiotic use. I can’t remember anything, you know my mom, I even asked her if she could think of anything prior. And she really didn’t have anything to say, so I don’t really know where it came from. I did have psoriasis when I was really little and I’ve had that my whole life. So one autoimmune issue already but I don’t know what started arthritis or why it started?
Clint – Well, I’m just speculating and ultimately it doesn’t really affect our course of action. But, if you’ve had psoriasis at a really young age and it wasn’t insignificant psoriasis. I mean, I know within our plant-based community that I’ve got friends and one of our children had mild psoriasis under the age of two. But no, I’d say even up until one, and then it went away. And that’s happened, I know, within our community to some other plant-based families, and then it’s gone away. So, I mean, it can almost be completely random but if yours was significant and it stayed with you at a young age and it was considered sort of like autoimmunity, sort of arthritis. Then it would indicate to me that something’s happened through your, is that incubation? Is that the right word? I mean when you would, what’s the word? When your mum’s got you in your belly up in.
Karra – Gestation
The Diagnosis And Early RA Years
Clint – There you go, so thank you. Something’s going on there, I reckon, or something in your very early years because psoriasis came on very young. But anyway, I always like to sort of going there and see if we can find out some trends and learn something. Just tell me, what drugs have you been on, what joints were most affected, all of the problematic areas, and what your mobility’s like? That’s the main thing.
Karra – So when I was 11, one morning I just woke up and I felt like there was a knife in my hip. I couldn’t get out of bed and I’m calling my mom and said, I can’t get up. And went to the doctor diagnosed and they started me on 11 aspirin, this was back in the day, that’s what they did. Eleven aspirin a day for a while and then eventually got onto methotrexate and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory to go with the methotrexate. It started in my hip and I was on crutches as a kid, I was in sixth grade. I moved around a bit my wrists, my left wrist was really affected. I wore wrist brace and no talk about keeping range of motion. So eventually my left wrist fused back on its own. And it doesn’t move anymore but thankfully it fused into a good position. We talked about joint replacement, but those don’t last that long, so you can’t really do that with a kid. So here I am, the kid in the rheumatology waiting room and people asking, well, are you here with your grandma? And I said no and I didn’t know any other kids that had arthritis. I mean, I have really until the forum, I haven’t known people my age. I mean, now I’m getting to the age where people are starting to have little osteo here and there, but I’ve just not known people.
Karra – So anyway, moved around different joints. I’ve had it everywhere I’ve had my knees drained, I’ve had injections everywhere, and my thumb fused not long ago. Because that joint was falling apart, so that just needs some more stability. My feet are a mess, like on X-ray they are fine and they don’t hurt me right now. I mean, I play tennis, I can run or I mean, I’m active and I’m not just getting through life I’m like active, so it’s good. But if you were to look at my bones that I had once had a podiatrist and I was probably 20, he said, you have the feet of an 80-year-old. And I was like, thanks and I don’t think that’s a compliment, but at least they work. So just hard years, because when I was a kid I wasn’t very active because I couldn’t be. I rode a bike a little bit here and there, but this is kind of an interesting thing. When I was in my twenties I started exercising, I was at a Bible college and we started doing these exercise things together and I just did what I could. Well, I started getting better, feeling better, and I got a little more active. I got really into health and fitness so much so that I ended up getting a bunch of certifications, and ended up being an aerobics instructor and a personal trainer. I was feeling really well, but I was still in methotrexate. Like I took that for over twenty years, but my inflammation levels were a lot lower. And at one point, I was a director for a few different programs and if you’re directing aerobic programs, if someone doesn’t show up, you’re teaching a class. So I usually do like 12 classes a week sometimes, and I might just for doing really well.
Karra – So. Now, I look back, I can see that’s why I was doing so well. And interestingly, before that time, I have been a vegetarian for a long time, 14 years, but I was not a healthy vegetarian. I was the pizza, Doritos, cake, ice cream, I love frozen yogurt, and I didn’t eat meat but I ate all the dairy and oil, all that stuff. And then when I got to health and fitness started kind of changing my diet a little bit. I did not end up adding meat, tried different diets later on. And then pregnancy time, like during my 20s, I’ve had four children during pregnancy and I felt great. Like one of my doctors, my rheumatologist said, you should just be pregnant all the time because you’re doing well and obviously your immune system still way back when you’re pregnant, so I was doing well. If I wasn’t doing well, then prednisone was the drug I had to be on. And so I’ve been on that for a while. I think I had also been on that some in my teens at times when the methotrexate wasn’t working. And I’m really grateful that I did OK on it because if I were to take prednisone now, I’d be a mess. I mean, I would be it just messes with my mind. I can’t, I wouldn’t go near with a (inaudible) because it just does not agree with me. And anyway, so methotrexate for a long time, prednisone for years here and there. And then once I have my last child, he was born and I was getting ready to wean him, I went back to the rheumatologist and they said, OK, well, now there’s these no drugs called biologics, and we need to try them for you because things weren’t going well. So I went on Humira and I am on Humira for about ten years and it worked well for me. Like, honestly, it was the first drug that actually seemed to do something like the methotrexate. It was ok, but like my joints were still fusing and it was still not doing it for me. So the Remicade seemed to work really well and then it stopped working. So she put me on that and that’s when we decided to switch to Humira.
Medication Usage In The Past
Clint – Wow, thank you. What a very interesting summary, so how long did Remicade show effectiveness?
Karra – I want to say it was about ten years.
Clint – Ten years.
Karra – Yeah. And I know that lots of people have side effects from certain drugs and things like that, I honestly didn’t feel fantastic on methotrexate because I had a lot of fatigue and stuff like that. And I ended up having to stop the methotrexate while I was taking the Remicade because my liver enzymes were not good. I’ve had multiple liver biopsies and finally they’re like, we just need to stop this drug. So I had to stop the methotrexate, but I didn’t have bad side effects from the Humaira or from the Remicade. I’m really grateful for that because, I mean, that worked well for me and it did its job for the time.
Clint – I would say that you’re a poster child for medication as well as lifestyle changes. You uphold the outcome of what the medication is advertised to do, which is to provide sort of the upper level of disease management and minimum side effects. And you’ve had that unless I misunderstood with Remicade and Humira, and that’s fantastic. And for 38 years of rheumatoid, you’re in better shape and I’m not underestimating your challenges. I’m just saying that there are some people who certainly can’t play tennis, or who certainly cannot run, or who have maybe trouble even getting out of a chair, or who’ve had rheumatoid for a quarter of your time. So, this is a valuable insight as well into the ways that the medication can give us great quality of life.
Karra – And before the Paddison program, I would have said that without drugs, I would be crippled. I mean, I would have trouble walking and I would have trouble using my hands. I mean, getting dressed like trying to button buttons I mean, forget it. I mean, living life was hard and I could not do it without drugs at the time. And again, I’m so grateful for the drugs but at the same time, I’m so grateful that I’m not left to just treat my symptoms. I mean, I’m glad that they’re there to help me. And honestly, like when I first started your program, my main objective was getting off the drugs. And I didn’t have the right mindset, I really didn’t. And I finally watched and you had a video about like, do I need drugs RA or something like that? And that like, made it click for me that the goal is not to get off the drugs but the goal is to manage the inflammation the best you can. So low inflammation is the goal, not the drugs and that just really changed things for me. But now I’m glad and It’s like I feel like I have control over what makes my body get inflamed. So now it’s like I can not light the fire, but if I happen to get a flicker, I don’t have to worry because I might be able to manage it on my own. And if not, thankfully, there are drugs that can help. So that is kind of where I’m at.
Clint – Yeah, I’ve just got goosebumps and it’s weird to get goosebumps about something like this, but I did because it’s like it’s exactly like the aha, that I hope from this kind of discussions in those kinds of videos that I make. Because and thankfully we don’t get accused anymore of being anti-drugs and I’d never have been anti-drugs. But I think that I’m glad that we’re giving a lot of time to the discussion around the effectiveness of these biologic drugs. And yeah I’m forty-five and if in ten years I want to start eating pizzas again and I don’t think that I ever will want to eat pizzas. But I’m dead set very thankful that there are drugs available. Should I want to go and start taking some drugs again? Because this disease is extraordinarily challenging and we all or I don’t think there’s one person that isn’t grateful that there’s opportunities either being on the medications right now or about to start medications or thinking about medications that they don’t exist. I mean, they’re crucial to a rheumatology approach, rheumatoid arthritis person’s approach and it’s rare to not be taking them. And like you said, it’s not the goal to be off drugs. The goal is to have the lowest inflammation possible and have the best control over our situation by being the healthiest we can and that’s the goal.
Karra – Certainly. And it’s hard we’re getting there it’s not like it’s an easy thing. And it just makes me think of like when I first saw you on this call, I’m thinking I’m actually talking to you like I’ve seen your face so many times. I’ve watched all the videos, all the podcasts, and I’m so thankful to you. And I’m so thankful for all the people who have done podcasts because it’s lonely going through this by yourself. I mean, you have family that loves you, but they don’t understand what this is like and they don’t understand just how hard it is. Yeah, like, I would never want to change my diet. I mean, I have friends who I will just take the drugs and it’s like, no, you don’t understand. Like, I’ve been on drugs for decades and I don’t have that. And the insurance that they’re always going to work they can lose effectiveness. So just having the encouragement from other people that have gone through this and seeing them. I mean, it was funny because I actually heard about you through my daughter who worked at a vegan restaurant. And one of her customers somehow or something in their conversation came up about arthritis and she said, oh, my mom has arthritis. And this lady wrote down Paddison Program on a piece of paper and she said, you have to tell your mom about this. So she brought it home and I threw it in the drawer. I’m like, I’ve tried everything. I mean, I’ve tried it all and I’ve just done like there’s just not a magic pill, It’s not going to work. And then somehow I came across that Patison program paper and I’m like, OK, let me just pull them up and watch the podcasts. I’m like, OK, well, that helped that person and that’s nice. I clicked on another one and then five and then ten. And then I was like, OK, these are people like me and these are people who have suffered from this disease for decades who’s tried everything. And they’re not going to tell you, well try this supplement it’ll cure your arthritis. I mean, they’re really like they’re going through a whole lifestyle change and they’re having success. And so that sounds like, OK, I have to at least try it I can’t just brush it off after that. And then once I was having success, I thought, I want to do a podcast because I want to be one of those people that says, you can do this. You don’t have to live with arthritis pain and feel hopeless because there’s something you can do. So super excited about it and so thankful for all the people that have encouraged me along the way.
Clint – Yeah, gosh, just another thank you to everyone who’s appeared on the show up until now. Sometimes I’ll go through a few weeks and I don’t hear from anyone who wants to share their story. And there are other times everyone wants to share at the same time, it’s ebbs and flows. And sometimes some people write the most amazing testimonials on email or shared privately with me and I say, would you like to share on the podcast? And they say, I’m a little bit shy or I don’t have a good enough X, Y, Z, webcam or Internet or something. And I think it would be so nice for everyone to hear their story. So I think only a fraction of the wonderful stories that we could share of people who’d come on and do share. So anyone who has a positive update that doesn’t have to be that the cliche pain-free, drug-free, maximum energy, and even playing tennis like Karra. Right. It can be just, hey, I’ve been able to reduce inflammation by half or I’ve been able to get out of bed in the morning without morning stiffness or whatever it might be. This is all inspirational and everyone’s story is different. And please reach out to me and come on and we can tell your story as well. Um, so I’m not done with you though yet, Karra I just want to know what’s next? Like, let’s talk about the exercise first and then I want to know what you’re working on and what is your next goal? Your exercise that’s shocked me when you said you can play tennis, it’s brilliant. So your knees which have been drained, you said, and they’ve had the injections and stuff in them. What’s the cartilage level in them and what’s your level of discomfort?
How Exercise Has Been A Crucial Component
Karra – My knees, I don’t really know, I mean, I know I have arthritic damage on my knees. I think more than anything it’s probably my feet when it comes to my legs. And I’m sure I’ve got stuff in my hip that’s not right, but I don’t have pain right now. I have made it a goal and I think it’s been almost two years now, probably about two years now, that I just decided I’m riding the exercise bike for 30 minutes a day no matter what. And I do it every day but Sunday and I’m on that bike. And I honestly don’t think of that as my exercise like I do other things besides that. But that’s my thing and honestly, I have a like a lap desk that you could put on your lap. I have that on the handlebars of the bike and I will watch podcasts while I’m on there or I will read while I’m on there or I will get on the forum while I’m on there. So that’s just what I do is thirty minutes and no questions. It’s not an if or do I feel like it just happens. If I’m feeling twinges of something, I’ll get on the bike a second time, I’ll get on at night and it’s just like I’m going to keep moving, I’m going to keep things going and then I walk. I have done Bikram yoga at home. I’ve never been to a place to do it. I do it at home and then I play tennis. I have two boys that live at home right now, teenagers and the two boys, and my husband and I go play tennis all the time and it’s a ton of fun. And the fact that I can keep up with teenagers at my age and having arthritis for this long, I’m just so grateful and I also lift weights here and there. And I kind of went through a phase like during the beginning that I am going to cut everything out on where I didn’t have a whole lot of energy and it was hard, so my exercise level went down. Besides the bike, it was like the bike is non-negotiable doing it. So I just would recommend that to anybody to keep going. And while you’re doing it, you watch things and read things that are inspiring to you.
Clint – Yeah, that’s great, a wonderful reminder I love the bike. Do you work up a sweat or do you maintain a pace that you sort of adjust under the sweat level?
Karra – In the mornings, I’m always working up a sweat if I’m going to add like another time of it. It’s partly like if I’m going to sit and read a book or like when I used to grade papers, I didn’t want to just sit there all the time, so I get on the bike and carry papers. And at that time I’m just doing low-level or like say it’s after dinner. I’m not trying to sweat at that so I’m just trying to move a little bit. But I always make sure that I have that time where I’m really pushing in the morning to get going.
Clint – Right. And you’ve done this so much, you probably know the answer to this. At or around about what minute mark do you normally start sweating?
Karra – Oh, wow, I don’t know if I pay attention, well, right now in North Carolina, it’s kind of cold in the morning and cold in my bedroom. So I like it going pretty fast because I want to get warm. I mean, I’d say it’s within five minutes, I can make it go faster.
Clint – Yeah, pretty quick. Okay, so you aim for more speed instead of resistance?
Karra – Yes
Clint – Ok, yeah, I just want to sort of getting clarity around a lot of the detail because the details matter as we know so I think that’s interesting too. If people have got tenderness in the knees and they find that pushing against resistance is a challenge. You’ve just told us that you get tremendous results because you maybe not so much had resistance. You just pedal fast and that’ll get the sweat up too. So there’s not a lot of reasons not to get on the stationary bike. I would just say the only exception is if you time and time again find that it’s irritating. I’m not speaking with you, I’m speaking with just our audience now. The only case would be is if it just clearly reproduces more inflammation each day by doing so. And if it doesn’t, then I’m a huge advocate for it. And you’re just the best case study to say, hey, it’s working for me and every time I go to the gym, I get on the stationary bike. I sweat around about the seven-minute mark. I cannot get sweat any quicker and that’s where this experiment with maximum resistance so that I’m hiding it versus fast. I feel more comfortable sort of edging towards the higher resistance sort of thing because I think I get sweaty quicker when I’m really pushing those pedals harder. And I like the concept of building strength too in my case. I think it might build up some more strength around my quads and my glutes. So have you seen your leg strength benefit from it or is it now you can’t recall because it’s been so long that you’ve done it?
Karra – I really have been an exerciser, just people with a fitness background. So I don’t have that, it’s more just overall feeling and like just my joints feeling good.
Clint – Yeah. I’ve always found that the cycle bike tends to make everything feel better, not just the knees, for example.
Karra – Yeah. And even when I had, the one I was telling you about that foot that was just blown up as I was on the bike and just after it felt so good. It was like if I could just stay on the bike all day, I’d be fine if I have to walk on it. But so even just then, it was helpful.
Clint – And one more. Well, at least one more question about those feet, because a lot of people have feet pain. My pain started on my feet, so I’ve never had an X-ray of the feet. But, you said that your feet look like they have taken a lot of damage probably to the cartilage. But you’re able to not feel any pain through those damaged feet, even when you’ve spaced the Humira a long way apart. What do you think’s going on there? Do you think that as long as there’s no inflammation the body adjusts and the body doesn’t feel the pain through the damaged joints just because when there’s no inflammation that feels ok?
Karra – Yeah, I think once you have bony changes, the bones are hurting. It’s that inflammation in the joint where you’re having that pain. And when I was doing the program, like when I was journaling everything, I was eating and monitoring my pain, my feet were always the gauge. My feet are a one today this morning, and it was that morning stiffness thing. My feet are one today or my feet are a two today or whatever they are, so they seem to be my gauge. But now, I don’t have morning stiffness and I don’t have any of that. I mean, I can jump rope and I don’t know if this is related to arthritis or not, but I don’t have the fatty pad on the bottom of my feet underneath like the ball of your foot. So I got to make sure I have good shoes that have support or padding there, so that can be painful. I don’t walk barefoot because that’s like walking to my bones, but they don’t hurt they’re fine, so I’m just grateful.
Clint – Yeah, that’s tremendous. So what’s next for you? That’s where we’ll probably wrap up, like, what are your goals, given that you’ve had so much experience over the years with this condition and also now several years under your belt with the lifestyle changes and seeing what works? What’s the future look for Karra?
Karra – Well, I don’t know if I have goals, but I will say looking back, I feel like this whole journey has kind of been like crawling out of a valley. Like where you’re in this just dark, climbing out kind of like going through this whole process is hard, you feel alone and it’s difficult. But then when you finally get up onto the level ground, there are some bumps and little things here and there, but it’s nothing. You’re like on flat ground, you’re out in the open sun and it’s good. So I guess I’m just looking forward to good years. And I think about how little things that you do become patterns and the patterns become habits and habits become a lifestyle. And I’m just thrilled with my lifestyle. Like, can I have friends that will say, are you going to eat meat? Do you think you’ll like meat at this time or whatever? And I’m thinking, you know what? I am so happy with what I’m eating and I’m also happy with fruits and vegetables. Like, honestly these are the foods that God gave us to eat and they are fantastic. And if you want encouragement, read Dr. Gregor’s book, How Not to Die. I mean, he just goes over all these different foods and the medicinal properties of foods and the benefits that they have. And I’m just so grateful for these good foods to eat. And I also like kind foods where I personally don’t think that it’s wrong to eat animals because I think I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I think that you can eat animals, but I don’t think we’re meant to treat them the way we treat them. And I don’t want to eat animals that are treated that way. So I’m happy to not eat them and if my body doesn’t process them well anyway, I’m OK without it and I’m not missing out. So I’m just excited about living a life where I feel good after I eat and I feel good when I exercise, and I’m just happy to tell people about it.
Tips From Karra
Clint – Yeah, it’s lovely. And any words of encouragement to our audience who are still in that crawling out phase?
Karra – Um, I would say give your body time to heal. Like, keep watching the podcast because when you feel just dark and alone, and like the stress of this is going to work. And like for me, it was like, if it’s not working, my joints are going to fuse and be even worse. Just in the midst of it, trust that people have gone this path before you and had great success. And there’s great hope that you can have great success but give your body time to heal. So taking out the things that offend or the things that cause trouble for your body and then let it take time. Like I remember wanting to add things when I was on the baseline, just always wanted to try this new thing. And I always question, is it this or is it that, is causing me trouble when really I think it was just that I needed to heal inside. I had been doing damage for years and years and years. I needed to heal and then once I could heal, my body could digest it. So I remember, you were talk once about glutens being like lifting heavy weights and like if your digestive track is not strong, you just can’t go there. You have to take it easy, lift lighter and it’s kind of like that with everything you’re eating, you’ve got to just dial it back, and take some time to heal. And just having that perspective that it’s going to take time, but I’m going to get there. And that’s what everybody on the podcast kept saying. And that’s why I’m saying it because we need to hear it and we need it to keep coming at us. Just take the time, it’s a process but it will work. So that’s what I would have to say.
Clint – Yeah. Thank you, that’s wonderful. Well, is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you had hoped to share? And it can be stuff within topics that we’ve already covered. If you haven’t or if we didn’t touch upon it or could be something altogether different. Is there anything that you don’t want to go on, though? I should have said that sometimes that happens afterward.
Karra – Wow, I don’t know that I do. I mean, just thank you, just I feel like for decades I prayed for let them figure something out with regard to research for arthritis and just the whole thing and all that. And it just seemed like it wasn’t coming and then it came. And even when I heard about you, it was like I wasn’t interested in it first and then now I’m just I’m so grateful. So thank you.
Clint – Thank you. Like, my little boy is just showing up saying, let’s go to the beach. And I think the timing’s really. Yes, we beach. Okay, we’ll go soon. So thank you so much. Your smile is infectious it’s put a huge smile on my face and thank you. This has just been so lovely and I always go and talk to my wife Melissa after these interviews and I say, oh, this person do this, this person do this. And I’m really looking forward to giving her a summary of your life so far. And she just gets so much out of these stories as well. And I’ll tell her about the fact that you’re from North Carolina and that you’ve done so well and it makes her feel happy, makes me so happy. And I hope that it’s made all our listeners today happy as well. And let’s all go out and continue to eat well and look forward to a positive future and do the very best we can and encourage others to get on this path as well.
Karra – Thank you.
Clint – Thank you for being part of our rheumatoid support group, because you’re always so uplifting, helping other people, and so forth. So thank you. And if anyone wants to join rheumatoid support, you can chat with myself and Karra and many of the other guests that we’ve had on this show. And other than that, thank you. And we hope to maybe see you next time we visit North Carolina.
Karra – Awesome, love it.