We discuss in this interview:
- Different experiences and degrees of effectiveness with prednisone, Plaquenil, Methotrexate and Humira
- Overreactions to accidents
- The turning point was finding Clint’s TEDx
- Natural health remedies as a long term perspective
- Finding the right pace to reduce drugs
- How Barbara got off Humira
- Pandemic lockdown as an opportunity
- How Barbara started doing yoga every morning and boosting her healthy eating habits
- Key support from her rheumatologist
- Actionable tips from Barbara
Clint – Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of the Rheumatoid Solutions podcast. Today we have another guest who’s going to share her journey and talk about how she was able to no longer require a set of different medications that she has been on for multiple years. We’re going to talk about all these different medications, the positive effects, and the negative effects on her. We’ll be also talking about how she was able to deescalate those successfully with her rheumatologist, and how the changes that she made through her lifestyle with the Paddison Program, and her complete approach to wellness have enabled her to get to this situation. Her name is Barb and she is in Michigan, and I’d like to welcome you, Barb. Thanks for joining me.
Barb – Thanks, Clint! I am really excited to be here.
Clint – Yes, and we connected by email, didn’t we? I sure shared a story just like the one that we’re talking about today, which is your journey, a positive journey. And you responded and said, I’ve got a great story as well. Then I invited you to come on in and share, so thank you for accepting that invitation. Before we go any further, let’s do the before and after situation that you’re in, so that we can set the scene for the rest of the episode.
Barb – My journey started in 2013 when I was about 51 years old at that time, so eight years ago. I started getting inflammation in my feet. My feet felt like rocks and I felt like I was walking on rocks. I had shifted careers just before that time because I had been in business, I retired from business and I wanted something completely different. And with that, I took a merchandising job at Macy’s, which turned out to be quite physical. I was out on the floor working with the mannequin’s clothes and carrying things. I immediately think that this feet problem has to do with being on my feet all the time. So I got different shoes, but it didn’t help. This was the summer of 2013 and over the next few months, not only did that get worse, but I started having random pains at night. During one night, one wrist would hurt and the next night it would be an ankle. Then a few nights later it would be a knee. And I would think, I slept on my knee wrong or I slept on my ankle wrong, but it was bouncing all over the place. Then, I had a drawer full of these braces for my right hand, left hand, a sling for my shoulder, and an ankle brace. I had everything, but it was just a moving target. It was always at night and I would wake up the next morning thinking, did I do something or am I getting carpal tunnel or who knows what? But over the course of the winter, all of this became pretty bad and I finally went to see a podiatrist for my feet. Then, I mentioned the other joint problems and I said, could it be related? And he said, probably it is related. He did a blood test, but the rheumatoid factor came back negative. And so he decided that it wasn’t rheumatoid arthritis and he was going to treat me for my feet, but he still did suggest that I still see a rheumatologist. He just didn’t diagnose it but it took me three months to get in to see the rheumatologist. I’ve had symptoms for a year and by the time I finally saw the rheumatologist, it had really settled into my shoulders. I would wake up at night and I’m literally in tears. Then, I would get up and go sleep in the living room so my husband wouldn’t hear me crying, it was pretty pathetic because it was so painful. Then, every morning when I would get up or when I walk around the house, I could feel the pain going down to some extent but over the course of the day, it would practically disappear. I’d be fine in the evening and I wouldn’t want to go to bed because I would know that I was going to wake up in the night. I didn’t know why and I just knew that I would, and the pain was so bad. So finally, I would wake up and instead of getting up, I was so tired I would just wiggle my shoulders to try to wiggle the pain down and sleep for 20 more minutes. Then, wake up, wiggle my shoulders and I was exhausted.
Barb – By the time I saw the rheumatologist in June of 2014, I was a basket case and he diagnosed me on the spot. He’s not big on drug test or blood test and this makes me love the rheumatologist. He’s so old school that he can tell by looking at my face, my levels of pain. I mean, he did a joint test, it was a visual test out of the 56 joints. If more than 2 came back with information, you’re considered to have arthritis. I think I was at 19 joints that day and it was really bad. Now, he did do a blood test and he diagnosed me right there. The RH factor still came back negative and I can’t remember the other test, but it’s the one where they test the amount of inflammation in your body? Is that where it’s supposed to be under 20?
Clint – That’s the SED rate?
Barb – Well, it’s supposed to be under 20 but the result was 226
Clint – Yeah, that’s the SED rate. Wow, that’s extraordinary and that would be the highest I’ve ever heard of.
Barb – It was off the charts and he couldn’t really say why. I don’t have any history of rheumatoid arthritis. My family has no history of it. The RH factor didn’t indicate it, but the levels of inflammation were so high. Then, he started me on multiple drugs that day before I left his office. I started out right away on Plaquenil, which is also known as hydroxychloroquine, anyway that had its 15 minutes of fame last year during the pandemic. But my rheumatologist considered it the least toxic disease-modifying drugs and so he said, let’s start there. Then he gave me a prescription for Naproxen, which is an anti-inflammatory, which I never actually took. Then he started me on Prednisone that day and I think we started at 20 milligrams. I have a real love-hate relationship, who doesn’t with prednisone? I had never been on it before and I didn’t know what to expect. But I will tell you, I considered it a miracle drug that day. As I slept that night, I did not have shoulder pain that night and I would have traded my soul to be in that position at that time. What I didn’t know was, I was going to be on that drug for over two years. So for about two and a half years, and I came to not love it so much.
Clint – When you were given it, did the rheumatologist tell you that it was just going to be used as a bridge until the plaquenil when it worked?
Barb – It’s probably because that is his approach, but we didn’t know how long it was going to take for the Plaquenil to work. So we didn’t really talk about how long it might be. The problem is the Plaquenil didn’t work and I was on it for a few months. The Prednisone was suffocating the inflammation and I wasn’t having the joint pain, but I still had all kinds of morning stiffness that would last until dinnertime. I had the (inaudible), the fatigue, and frankly the flat-out depression. I was mentally and emotionally still in a basket case and I just didn’t have inflammation keeping me awake at night. So I stayed on the Plaquenil a couple of months and I’m still on the prednisone, then we added methotrexate. I think I started it 20 milligrams at that time, so I’m taken both of those and the Prednisone. A couple more months I’m in the same position, inflammations under control and that’s why I stayed on the Prednisone so long. But the Methotrexate wasn’t really changing anything, so we added Humira. And my doctor asked me, are you ready to do this or do you want to go on a biologic? And I just didn’t see where I had any choice and much like the prednisone, it seemed to be the answer at the time. Because we had already tried what he considered the lesser of the evils, I went on the Humira and I started with an injection in March of 2015.
Clint – Let me just summarize real quick so I understand. At this point, you’re still on the prednisone, you’re still taking the Plaquenil, you’re still taking the methotrexate and you’ve added Humira without dropping anything.
Barb – Well, although I asked if I could drop the Plaquenil at that time. And he said, yeah, it’s clear that’s not doing anything for you. I did drop the Plaquenil when I started the Humira.
Clint – Okay, good. Then let me also just clarify as well that his personal position with regards to the Humira, that it was a significant sort of risk-benefit balance compared to the other drugs.
Possible Medication Side Effects
Barb – Yes. He also talked about the standard risks. For example, possible lymphoma is a long term risk. But I should say that during all this time, I never really had side effects from any of those drugs. The Plaquenil and the Methotrexate didn’t really work for me, but I wasn’t suffering side effects as a result of them. I’ve never had side effects from the Humira and I’ve not had issues with that. But yes, in March of 2015, I dropped the Plaquenil. I’m on 20 milligrams of methotrexate, I’m taking self-injections every two weeks of Humira a syringe every two weeks, and still on prednisone.
Clint – Ok. I’ll let you continue from there. How long until you felt anything from the Humira?
Barb – I was told to expect that it could take up to a month, but I started feeling generally better after a couple of weeks. Again, I wasn’t having inflammation and that wasn’t a factor. But in terms of my mood, my energy, my outlook on life, and not crying all day I got better from that within a couple of weeks. And so we knew relatively quickly that the Humira was working. Then we kind of went into a holding pattern. I’m still on the methotrexate, I’m still on the Humira, and I’m still taking the prednisone, and I can’t remember really why. Because I’ve had so much trouble getting stable and it’s taken me a year on drugs to get to what we considered a stable place. He just didn’t want to change anything right off the bat. Then, months go by, a few more months go by, then it’s been a year where are in 2016 I was still on all these drugs. In the summer of 2016, one of us decided we needed to start weaning the prednisone, I don’t remember who but he was always very good about making sure that we were having a conversation, that it was a joint commitment to whatever we were doing. But I was able to wean off the prednisone by September of 2016. I remember being on vacation and I was thinking, I don’t have to take this while I’m on vacation and this is a great thing.
A Change In Direction
Barb – But then, we went the other direction. In the spring of 2017, I was in a minor car accident that you could imagine. I was at the back in my car out of the garage at 0 mph. I didn’t know my daughter’s car was behind me and I backed into it. My body reacted as if I had hit a brick wall going 45 mph. I had whiplash my neck and shoulders, and it just got inflamed. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t turn my head. I way overreacted to the conditions of the accident itself and I had trouble recovering. A couple of months went by its early summer, my rheumatologist said, I know you’re not going to like this but bear with me. He recommended another short course of Prednisone just to deal with that inflammation. He just thought we had to use a sledgehammer because it had reacted so badly, and so we did. Now it’s the summer of 2017 and I’m back on prednisone, but just a short course. We’re going to do 20 milligrams and then wean down. Here’s the good part, on August 1st this is where I am at this point. I’m on Humira and I have been on Humira for a couple of years, I’m on prednisone for a short course and I’m still in methotrexate.
Barb – Then, I’m on Facebook and I have done enough Google searches over those last few years that Facebook knows I’m into rheumatoid arthritis. Then, it feeds me one of your ads and I had not been looking for any kind of natural health remedy. I didn’t know it existed, I didn’t even know to ask the question, and it was not part of my conscious thinking. But Facebook or the universe knew that you and I needed to know each other. As I saw that ad I just knew that this was something that I needed to know more about and you don’t learn much from an ad. I just knew that it was the direction I needed to go next. The reason that I was so motivated was because I was afraid of my future and I was okay at the time. I had Humaira, prednisone and I was using big drugs to take care of these problems. They were under control and I knew the next thing wouldn’t last forever. But I was worried that Humira would stop working for me or my body would develop an immunity to it. I was worried that I would have to go on a different biologic at some point. The women in my family live a really long time and they live for a hundred. Then, I figure I have even now got another 40 years. I was thinking, how many times a biological drug going to stop working and at what point would I run out of them? I was just very worried that I shouldn’t consider that a panacea for my future. I needed to think about that now while it was still working. And while I did still have this safety net that was keeping the inflammation under control. So I followed the ad and I bought your book. I started the program on August 1st of 2017, so almost four years ago. I skipped the first part because I didn’t own a juicer and I didn’t want to go buy a juicer for two days worth of juicing. I wanted to start eating in a way that I could eat forever. I didn’t want to do this for a minute and that for a minute because I wanted to just get into a consistent process. I started right into the two week process and I had some ups and downs. I don’t know if you remember, but I emailed you because I developed proctitis right off the bat. In the first week, I was bleeding in places you should not be bleeding and I was panicking at that time. But you coached me through it and it didn’t last because I healed and everything was fine. I just kept going and within a month I was off the prednisone. I had been planning to wean it anyway, but I didn’t have any trouble weaning it. I thought if this natural eating or healthy eating program doesn’t work or it doesn’t do anything more for me, I’m done with it. But then I was like, I wonder what else I can do. I just kept doing the program and I was able to get off the Methotrexate within three or four months. And that’s the first time I’ve been off of that for a couple of years, so now I’m down to just Humira.
Clint – It sounds like what you got most of all is a sense of confidence and a sense of control.
Barb Is In Control Of The Disease
Barb – Control, I can beat this thing. I started to think of my body differently. Up until then, I had anger at my body for failing me. I started to realize that it wasn’t true and the enemy is the RA. You know, that’s the bad guy. My body and I need to work together to defeat this beast. It completely sounds so corny, but I’ve changed my relationship with my body in these last four years. I honor it, I am grateful for it, and I’m thankful for a lot of things. But I see myself in this struggle, me and my body together. But we got each other and we’re making this work.
Barb – I’m off the methotrexate and it’s probably January or February of 2018. Then, I was on your forum for a couple of months at that point. I can’t remember the exact sequence of events here, but I decided to go for the Humira. I got a little cocky and I believed that I can do this. I talked to my doctor about it and he explained how we would eventually someday wean the Humira. I kind of started without him and I decided that I would do this, and I’ll see how it went. As a result, it didn’t go very well. I had been on 2 shots or a shot every two weeks, and I stretch that out to three weeks. I immediately had inflammation in my feet, but it wasn’t that much. But having not felt that for a few years, I knew exactly what it was and it scared me, and it was really a reality check. I had been a little bit cocky that I’d been able to get off the first two so quickly and it scared me. I was really worried that if I stopped taking the Humira too soon and needed to go back on it, that it wouldn’t work for me. I’d heard these stories and I thought, I’m not going there. Everything’s pretty good and I’m just going to eat the way I’m eating. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing forever if I have to because this is good and I’m not going to mess it up. And I think that’s when I decided to kind of go on my own. I thought this is going to be a long term project. If it ever happens, I’m just going to back off and slow down. I didn’t back off the plan, but I stopped having this sense of urgency that I need to be off this by next month or three months. I didn’t set a goal that it’ll take as long as it takes.
Clint – Goals are only as good as what God intends for us, aren’t they? Because when it comes to all things related to what we’re talking about, things always take longer than we expect. I don’t think there’s anything that happens quickly. We also don’t need the pressure of trying to get a result within a certain amount of time, because that adds an element of stress. We really don’t need any further stress in our lives, especially ones that we ourselves inflict. This often comes up with what we’re doing right now. Some people say while I’m doing a podcast, I’ve listened to your podcast and I want to be a guest one day. I’m aiming to be on your show at the end of the year. And I say, just relax and take the time it takes and if we ever speak to each other one time in the future that will be amazing. Just chill, give yourself love, time, and space. Then, set gentler goals that you think that you can achieve. If you do much quicker, very good that’s brilliant. At least don’t put deadlines that are going to stress you out.
Barb – I had done that when I first started the program and before I had a type-A personality. Now I have goals and I wanted to be off all of it within a year, but God had a different plan. It was early in 2018 and I had left Macy’s a couple of years before. They tried to turn me into a salesperson and that didn’t work, and I didn’t want to be there. I felt so crummy at one point that I just quit work altogether. But then I felt better and I started a different job. I’m currently an accounting manager with a nonprofit agency and I have been there for five years. But at the time, I wanted to go off Humira back in early 2018. There was a lot of job stress and I thought this is not the right time to be trying to do what I’m trying to do. It’s just counteractive to the lifestyle that I need to make this work. I just went back on my every 2 weeks Humira shots. I was taking Vitamin D supplements, Vitamin B supplements, and that’s all. I’ve never taken any of the anti-inflammatory or nonsteroidal drugs. I never needed them because I have Prednisone for two and a half years, In 2018, I decided to just relax and go for the long haul, and that’s how it went through 2018 and 2019. There were two or three times during that time when with my doctor, I did try to stretch those Humira shots out. It could result in a sore finger or my wrist would be sore. I would think no, it’s not the time yet. I immediately go back to the 2 week injections and forget about it for six months.
Barb – Then the pandemic hit last March of 2020, I got sent home to work remotely like everybody else. I’ve been working in this room for a year. Today I went back to my office for the first time in 14 months. But in March of 2020, the world was coming to an end. In my opinion, I was stressed as everybody else was. The political landscape in the US was just a stressful time. I started snacking in a way that I never had in the first three years I was in your program. We can talk about food if you like but I eat a very clean breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I got stressed to the point of eating potato chips all the time. I thought I’m taking Humaira and it’s my safety net. If I’m going to be on it the rest of my life anyway, I might as well enjoy potato chips because it covers up the inflammation. But the problem was I started gaining weight and that was unacceptable. In the summer of 2020, I felt that I need to stop and I had a little bit of an epiphany. Instead of using this time to stress and ruin my health in every possible way. You could use this time to live the lifestyle you always think you’re going to live when you’re retired. When I retired I’ll do yoga every morning, I’ll walk for an hour every evening, I will plan my meals, and I will cook my own meals. I will be perfect when I’m retired and I have time to do anything. I’ve been working from home and I had the opportunity to live my day in a different way. So, I started doing yoga every morning and I had been doing it two or three times a week. I probably have some residual damage from the prednisone. My soft tissue is so brittle and so rigid that instead of my muscle fibers doing this, they’re like this. My physical therapist has described my connective tissue like piano wire because it’s really tight. I think it’s damaged from the prednisone or it could be the RA. Who knows or who cares, it is what it is. I do yoga so that I can move it but I decided last summer that I would do it every day. Not for a couple of times a week, but every morning. I have to wait for my body to wake up and relax enough that I can do the yoga. Just because I can’t even do it first thing in the morning. But if I warm up a little bit, I can do it. Then I decided that I would walk an hour after dinner. In the summer when it gets dark at five o’clock, I would do it at the end of the afternoon. Then as soon as the light got longer, I go after dinner and I would do my hour. Then, I would commit to that eating the way I was supposed to have been eating the whole time. Actually, I lost the weight that I needed to lose.
Barb – Then during the fall, my doctor kind of surprised me. My rheumatologist said, you seem to be doing really well and why don’t we start stretching the Humira again? So, we went for three weeks, I got to three weeks, and then I got to another three weeks. He said in January, why don’t we do four weeks? And I said, let’s do that. Now I’m really motivated to be doing my yoga every morning, I walk every afternoon and my food was all healthy. I went for 4 weeks and I went another 4 weeks. When I went to see him in March he said, how often are you taking it now? And I said, every four weeks. Then he said, do you want to stop? I agreed and I was surprised myself because up until then I had not. I’ve been almost afraid of getting off the Humira. I wanted to but I was still really worried. If it didn’t work, I would have to go back on it and it wouldn’t work, and I’d be stuck. But I just felt so much healthier than I had felt at any point in those previous few years. He’s given me an opening, he’s given me the chance, and I’ve got to take it. But I did question him first and I said, are you sure or should we maybe go to five? Then, he said, Humira is not going to hold you for four weeks. If you didn’t go one every four weeks for three months, it’s not doing anything for you. You don’t need it. So we got in there and I didn’t even know it. After all that time, I had thought I wanted to be off that drug. One morning, I got up not knowing that it was the last time I would ever take it. The last shot I ever had was on February 28 and it’s been a full three months now, and I have no inflammation. If I overdo the walking, my ankle hurt or my neck might hurt. But I do not have soreness in my feet and I do not have that lack feeling in my feet. My wrists are not hurting or either my shoulders of all things. Now my doctor said, I want to make sure that you’ve still got a dose in your refrigerator just in case you need it. I went home and I still had one, and it’s good through the end of the year. He also said, if you feel anything, you take that shot and you call me. But I am not yet to do that and I don’t have to see him again until October. At that point, I suspect he may release me completely.
Clint – We’ll cross that bridge when you get there. The thing to do at the moment is just to keep everything the way that you are. Don’t go rocking the boat and don’t go changing anything because you’re more exposed. There is no safety net and you’re walking now the tightrope with great confidence because of the years that you’ve been doing the lifestyle changes. The habits you’ve established without that safety net. You have to be one-track mind, which is very a cautious living. How does it feel to say that?
Like A Rock Star
Barb – It was amazing and I felt like a rock star. This is the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever had in my life. I won’t bore you with any of it compares to the thrill of getting off that drug. and my husband recognizes that. When I came home that day I said, the doctor said I don’t have to take it anymore. Then, he said, I wish we could go out to dinner. He knows I don’t do that anymore and that’s all right. I drink cranberry juice over ice and call it a cocktail. But we celebrate it because that is just a huge day in our family. He has been supportive of me from the beginning, even in the early dark days. I remember the first month that I was on the Paddison Program and everybody thinks it’s a vegan lifestyle, which it is. But there’s so much more to it than that. But I was watching the Netflix show, What The health. My husband sat and watched it with me. At the end of that show he said, I’ll do what you’re doing. Until then, I’ve been cooking two dinners, which I didn’t mind doing and I didn’t expect him to change anything. This was my journey and I was okay with that. But he said, you don’t need to do that and I’ll eat what you’re eating. He eats lunch with just one potato soup and I pack it in his lunch box. He eats potatoes and he also eats oatmeal. I will say that he eats a lot of processed vegan food that I don’t eat because I don’t eat anything processed. He will eat frozen vegan burgers or frozen vegan sausages or Tofurkey. He also really likes vegan butter or the earth balance butter and other vegan meals, and that’s fine. I don’t care.
Clint – You can’t be touching that earth balance because it’s all oils.
Barb – During last easter, my sister-in-law wanted to have us over for the first time in a year. She said, I know you’re eating vegan and instead of cooking all the vegetables with butter, I cooked them all with olive oil. Then I said, that’s so sweet but I’m not that hungry so please understand.
Clint – Let me just go to my backpack where I have an entire pack up of food to eat like I have to take with me everywhere.
Barb – Yes. Because of the pandemic, I haven’t done it very often, which that’s my point. This last year’s been a great opportunity to clean up a lot of things. But I always eat before I go someplace, whether it’s going out to dinner or going to somebody’s house. I don’t expect them to understand and I don’t want them to try to understand, so I just eat before I go. If we’re out and we’re at a restaurant, where I really just can’t make it work the way I want it to. I’ll order a plain baked potato and a dry salad, and my favorite saying is I am not going to starve from one meal. Who cares about one meal? if I don’t get enough protein in this meal, who cares? I’ll never forget with that shoulder pain feels like I mean, I can picture it. I’ll never forget that painful experience. There’s not much and there’s nothing really that’s going to tempt me to eat in a way that could bring that back. And since I don’t have the safety net of the drugs, I’m just not going to risk it and I just won’t do it.
Clint – I’m about to share a podcast of my story update and the title of the podcast is probably going to be, never ever get complacent. It is because I also made a mistake and it’s the same as what you were just talking about. I was just sitting in a restaurant and it led to a knee replacement last year, and it was a disaster. I’ve got to share all that information in detail and all the lessons that I learned came from that one meal, that I ate a couple of years ago. It was when we were in Florida at a restaurant that Melissa used to work at. And that food was extremely oily deep fried mayo, which I never ever ate. It just seems so absurd that I would do that but I’m going to share all the details.
Barb – I’m looking forward to it and I would love to hear your story.
Clint – All I can say is you could not be more on the money. Do not take any risks at all, especially at restaurants. The way that they deep fry their food and oil is repetitively reheated. And with that, it creates an enormous amount of free radical potential in the body. You’re dealing with really high inflammatory omega-6. Then they get heated many times and it’s like an atomic bomb of damage. This is a reminder for everyone if in case they don’t listen to my upcoming podcast on this topic, never take the risk at a restaurant. Restaurants are the most dangerous place and it’s like a war zone. If you are at home, you can put a little bit of olive oil and it’s probably not going to do anything. Sometimes we go to an Indian or a Mexican restaurant, we order food with a little bit of oil in the rice and it’s probably not going to do anything. Those food didn’t affect me or cause harm to me for years. But if we are talking about a deep fried meal, that’s like putting a gun to your head.
Barb – Yeah, I’ll be not doing it. Now I would be afraid, that would Humira work for me again? And it maybe would, but I don’t know. Once you get off that hamster wheel, you just do not want to get back on.
Clint – Let’s close that portion of our discussion out on Humira. Then I want to get a couple more tips from you and one thing you mentioned about your husband’s support, that’s a common theme we see throughout. Everyone who comes and tells their story on this show, it’s always with their partner. They are a part of our support group, which you were for a while as well. If we look at a pie chart of the things that matter, one of the pieces of the pie chart is you need the support to keep you encouraged to enable you to do this as easy as possible, to reduce friction in the whole process and having the emotional friction of loved one who doesn’t agree. Gee, that eventually wears you down just like a rheumatologist who doesn’t agree. that eventually wears you down, too. You had support from your husband and from your rheumatologist. Everything you’ve said about that gentleman has made me really develop a fondness towards him without knowing him. Then you talked about a tip of eating before going out again, that’s a really good one. We’ll get to some more tips in just a moment.
Clint – But let’s just close out the discussion on the Humira for people who might be thinking about having a journey down the path. In which, you have been spacing them and talking about that with their rheumatologist. The concern that comes up from the rheumatologist is that you can develop antibodies to the actual drug itself. And once you develop antibodies, then you can no longer take it because the body’s basically fighting the drug then. I’m speaking now outside of my education and not as a doctor. But what I hear is that the risk of developing antibodies may increase as we spice the treatments out further. Also, the use of methotrexate alongside Humira is also a strategy to try and reduce the risk of antibodies towards Humira. And that is just my layman’s understanding from hearing anecdotal stories. We had a guest, forgive me if she’s listening to this, I won’t take the time to look it up. But she spaced her Humira out months and eventually got to like six months. The last time she took it was six months ago. But she is just like you because she has a syringe in the fridge ready to use if need be. She has the same strategy as you, but her doctor allowed her to keep going further and just didn’t see it after a month. It’s interesting to observe two different approaches from the rheumatology viewpoint. I think her name was Kara or you can go and search for that on our website. If you want to listen to that episode, just type in Humira on www.RheumatoidSolutions.com/Blog/Humira. You will find all the podcasts where we talked about that topic. We’re able to spread it from 3 weeks to a month and did that for several months. We are only talking opinions here. In your opinion, would it seem that if you needed it again, there seems to be no reason why it wouldn’t have effectiveness for you.
Barb – I feel like at some point over those couple of years while I was eating the program. I probably did heal enough to and I may have been able to get off it sooner. I don’t know at what point I crossed that line, but I guess it doesn’t matter. At this point, I’m just glad that we finally got there.
Clint – It’s like when I stopped methotrexate, which was completely by accident, I left the drug at my mother-in-law’s place in America when we flew back to Australia. And then sort of rolling the dice after I finally received it three or four weeks later, that whether or not I should take it any further. I felt no difference whatsoever and I thought, how long have I been taking this without doing anything at all? I do feel that it’s a strange concept and it’s not one that I want everyone to explore. For example I am going to say, I’m going to stop my drug. No, not like that but think of it as a seed of thought. Now we are getting into these routines. For example, my dad has been taking a zinc supplement for 40 years. I wonder, does he need to be doing that for 40 years? He is in the habit of doing it and we develop these habits of pop and stuff into our mouth or inject. But at the scale of the intervention that we’re talking about it’s harder to test it, isn’t it? Not like a zinc tablet, it’s harder to say. You don’t want to go on and off, and also you don’t want to go up and down.
Barb – If you’re stable, it’s kind of a catch-22. You need to be stable before you can start testing it. But when you’re stable and you necessarily want to test it, you lose that progress. With that, I’m glad that in my case the Rheumatologist made the first move. My doctor asked me, are you ready? I don’t know that I would have said that for a while and I was glad that he was willing to do that. My doctor was old and he was already 75 years old, and he is old school. At the beginning of our relationship eight years ago, I thought he’s going to have me on every drug on the planet because that’s what he knows. But I think over that eight years or seven years, we educated each other a little bit. I think he learned that I wasn’t full hearty and I wasn’t going to take unnecessary risks. I was going to listen to what he said, but I always had my own input too. I always had the opportunity to tell them what I was thinking or feeling or when I was ready to stop Plaquenil or Methotrexate. He was willing to go along with that and he worked with me for sure. If it wasn’t for that relationship, I would either have been foolish and stopped way too soon and got myself into trouble or as you said, it would become a habit and I’d still be on it now.
Clint – Just a lot of positive feelings around the rheumatologist and we’ve covered some great lessons throughout this podcast. In no particular order and I probably won’t do this with full justice. What we’ve learned is that not every medication is going to work. We saw the Plaquenil not working for you and methotrexate is a question mark because you were taking prednisone the whole time. We’ve been reminded how effective prednisone can be. However, there’s no secret as to its risks if it’s used long term. We’ve covered so much of that in other episodes and the science is so clear on that. We’ve also established that it was when you changed your diet, that you got the most impact on being able to reduce medications. Just to continue our train of thought with regards to other things that I’ve certainly picked up from our chat is I love this saying, what’s great about this? I just love that saying what’s great about this? Because we constantly have challenges in life and you did well. What you did is when covid came along you said, what’s great about this? Well like you said, I can start living the retirement lifestyle here at home and you started implementing that. And that was a massive shift for you as well. Those evening 1 hour walks and the yoga in the morning. There are a lot of studies on yoga that I’ve been looking at as I’m writing a book is just incredible. In terms of glutathione production in particular, which reduces oxidative stress and it is just amazing. I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding me just from yoga, no wonder it’s so effective. Then the lessons around having the right rheumatologist and we already talked about the support. The original goals that you set for yourself and you originally said you wanted to get off medications within 12 months. When we set a goal, as what we spoke about things taking longer with our health, I always set m goals longer. But you put that out there and you said, I want to be the sort of person that strives to be as healthy as possible, and with that, I don’t have the need for dependency on other interventions. You just put that out there and it’s no accident that you have been able to make tremendous progress in that area. There’s a lot of things there and then you tip about eating before going out is great.
Clint – I want to just wrap up with just some bullet fire tips, like do this or do that and so on. So that we can finish on some real actionable items. If you’ve got any in your mind, you can still add.
Adding Fun Into The Diet
Barb – One thing I was thinking about was, this has been important in this kind of find a way to put some fun into this because there’s so much that’s not fun. When you’re starting a new eating program and you feel like you’re giving up. You feel like you’re giving up a lot of things and you haven’t made that transition yet. Well, one thing I really like about our food or the way we eat is it’s beautiful. I’m a very visual person and I just really appreciate a plate. And once I put it together, the vegetables, the colors, and the textures just results in a portion of beautiful food. I decided to indulge myself in some really nice dishes that would set off this food. Instead of just put it on my plain old Corelle plastic dishes, I went out and bought at Macy’s really nice white bowls that you would find in a farm-to-table restaurant. If that meal came to you in that dish at a restaurant, you’d pay twenty dollars for that meal. This is a special meal and to me the dishes make a big difference. I did kind of the same thing with my oatmeal in the morning instead of my ugly little Corelle bowls. I bought some really pretty stoneware pottery bowls for my oatmeal because they’re very natural looking and it seems very healthy in the morning. I also bought some nice barware because I always enjoy sipping something while I’m cooking, but I don’t sip wine anymore. So I bought these really nice highball glasses and I fill them with ice and cranberry juice or orange juice. In the beginning, it was just orange juice and then I branched out a little bit now that I’m feeling better. I sip my juice in my really nice cocktail glasses and it feels special and it doesn’t feel like I’ve given anything up, I don’t feel deprived. I guess everybody responds to things differently. But if you can find a way to take your food or your new lifestyle and put some of yourself into it. So that it doesn’t feel like it’s all been stripped away.
Clint – I love that and that’s really nice. When Melissa takes photographs of our food, she really wants to show the colors, the vibrancy, and the life in the food. Because that should be celebrated and that is one of the positives. The most amazing aspect of it is that we’re eating closer to earth and closer to nature. Why not make that like a bowl of flowers or why not make it look good? If that means some colorful bowls or some really nice ways of presenting the food in the plates, the glasses, and everything that’s a great tip, I love it.
Barb – I think this one is pretty much a no-brainer, but you just have to commit to planning your food. Starting from the weekend, you’ve got to know what you’re going to eat that week and you’ve got to shop for it. Then when you get it home, you’ve got to prep it and you’ve got to freeze it. Vegetables don’t last very long in the refrigerator and they don’t stay nice very long. As soon as I get home from the grocery or from the market or wherever I’m buying vegetables, I will clean, chop and freeze them individually for different things. I will freeze them in those quantities. And with that, I don’t have this mass of vegetables wilting in the refrigerator that I don’t know what I’m going to do with them. I also bought a lot of glass bowls with plastic lids on them. And with that, I can do a lot of batch cooking and freeze those meals in individual servings. I’ll cook soup every Sunday, whether it’s the (inaudible) potato or if it’s the sweet potato or I do one with 10 vegetables and kidney beans. I will freeze those all in individual containers in my husband and I take those for lunch. Then, we can reheat them at work really easily. You don’t even think about preparing lunch for the entire week. Once you get into those routines, then it all becomes pretty easy. I cook less now than I did when I was making big meals every night. Before I was cooking meat, vegetables, potatoes, and all of that. But now, it’s a lot simpler and it’s actually easier.
Clint – Ok, great. Can you give this a scoring out of 10? Just to go through a few things quickly. Scoring out of 10, which is a level of importance. 10 out of 10 is must be done and 0 out of 10 is a must-not.
Clint – Exercise?
Barb – 10.
Clint – Sticking to the diet.
Barb – 10.
Clint – Your vitamin D supplements.
Barb – I live in Michigan and if it’s winter, that’s a 10. But if it’s summer, it’s a 5.
Clint – Your quality of sleep?
Barb – For me, that doesn’t seem to be a big factor.
Clint – Right, so you can have a rough night and still feel just the same or you don’t feel any inflammations?
Barb – Yes, I can still feel the same.
Clint – Yes, interesting. What about water intake?
Barb – I’m not great at water intake, so I’m going to say it must be a 3 or 4. Just because it doesn’t seem to be impacting in my case.
Clint – Have you ever noticed the relationship between bowel movements, frequency clearing your bowels before bed at night? Is there any relationship between the bowels and inflammation?
Barb – No, but I can tell by the quality of my bowel movements and the quality of my diet. (inaudible) pay attention to the relationship there.
Clint – I would love to talk about that, but that’s for another time. What about stress and its direct impact?
Barb – Stress is high on the scale and I know from the amount of stress I’ve gone through. It was when I’ve tried to wean off Humira versus when it’s worked. I’ve added meditation to my morning yoga so I don’t know if that’s on your list, but it’s on mine now. I’m only able to do about 10 minutes and I do 10 minutes at the end of every yoga session. It really has helped set a tone for my day and reduce the stress of my work day.
Clint – I think it’s way more powerful than we give it acknowledgment for. I think it’s because it’s just so hard to quantify and it’s such a qualitative approach to healing that we all kind of just shrug. Also because our mind who developed this condition has type-a personality and it’s a strange phenomenon. But as a type-a personality, that is a conscious mind presence and it takes a lot of great discerning wisdom. For example to say, the part of my brain that decides if I’m going to meditate is the part that’s overactive. It does not want to be shut down to allow deeper powers to sort of come forth and wisdom. You kind of have to be really wise to say, I’m going to overpower the main operating system, which is my conscious brain. To shut it down and it doesn’t like it because it’ll give you every excuse possible. Why you shouldn’t try to quieten it for a little while just like a little puppy that just wants endless attention. I think it’s really effective and I’ve been doing it now most nights for the past few weeks. I feel so much better about it and I just feel like with every problem I’ll handle it. Whatever it comes along, I’ll just handle it with no worries. It’s just like, I got this because it’s not just my scatter monkey brain with a machine gun running around like a loose cannon. It’s actually like, Clint is handling things and not the crazy mind. And that’s so powerful, it gives you a sense of confidence and a sense of calm. I think that I’ll be looking way more into that in the future in terms of its impact on health and what I have done in the past. I thank you for bringing that up. And then within the diet side of things to finally wrap this up. Do you notice a benefit for days where you increase leafy greens, or have you noticed that there’s a particular favorite reset meal for you that you like? And what’s your safety net in the food area?
Barb – I haven’t had quite the same experience because I was on the Humira for so long and I didn’t reintroduce food slowly. I never really knew what impact they were having because I was in remission with the Humira. But what I do notice, I won’t go into detail here, but I judge the quality of my eating by the quality of the output. Leafy greens are the key to everything, so I would put that way on the scale.
Clint – Fantastic. They do tend to be the ultimate balkanizer if you want to use a different word. Well, thank you and this has been tremendously insightful. I can just see how happy with how far you’ve come and it’s so contagious. The good feelings that are coming through from you. Thank you for letting me spend an hour or so with you and gearing all this information that’s so inspiring.
Barb – Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure.