My symptoms began when I was nine years old but were largely dismissed as “growing pains” by doctors.  By seventh grade, I was wrapping my joints in bandages and forging notes from home to get out of PE because I was in pain.  By 15 I was self medicating with prescription pain killers intended for menstrual cramps.  My mother suspected juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, but the doctors continued to just dismiss it.  I took a lot of pills, missed a lot of school, but was able to pretty much get by.  Honestly, I thought I was normal.  Besides, if I hurt, I could just pop some pills, sleep it off, and be fresh in the morning. This was how I managed until one fateful day when I was 26.  While lifting chicken out of the oven, my wrist popped. At the time, it was no big deal; I was used to my joints popping and causing pain. This time however, the pain did not go away no matter what I did.

While at work one day, my boss took notice of my injured wrist, and suggested I see her naturopath. I declined, but promised I would see a doctor.  My doctor at the time was and still is a good doctor. She is a conventional doctor, but she tries to take a more holistic approach. That day I walked out with a walking diagnosis of lupus. My doctor just didn’t know what was wrong with me, but she knew it was much more serious than a sprain.

My boss again referred me to her naturopath, and this time I reluctantly heeded her advice. The naturopath was generally unsuccessful in treatment, but diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. As a last resort, she recommended me to take part in a functional medicine research study through a large nutraceutical company, two hours away from where I lived, in the hopes that maybe they could help me. At that point I was desperate for answers and relief so I made the trip every other week out to the research center. Little did I know it would be the most profound event of my entire life……