A few months ago, I decided to radically change my diet. Why? Because I had a bad reaction to more than one arthritis medication (including one severe allergic reaction to Plaquenil / Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate in September 2012). My mother had one friend, E, who had tried a special diet for over a year and had been told by her rheumatologist that she’d had a ‘spontaneous remission’. That was enough of an incentive for me to do something.I’d already cut out alcohol in summer 2012. Then in early December, I developed continuous migraines and permanent numbness down the right hand side of my body after being on injectable Methotrexate for just a month. A private migraine specialist suggested I drop chocolate, coffee, tea (all caffeinated drinks) and cheese from my diet. All things I love! Other food I stopped eating last December: dairy, anything with gluten, potatoes.
It sounds like a lot, but there are actually loads of things I can still eat, including: gluten-free porridge for breakfast with a banana, rice, lots of fish, particularly salmon and mackerel, tofu, loads of vegetables such as avocado, sweet potato, cucumber, beetroot etc, soya yoghurts, seeds such as flax and pumpkin, nuts, fruit (everything apart from citrus). I occasionally eat organic chicken but no red meat. I also drink one tablespoon of organic cider vinegar mixed with one teaspoon of honey in a small amount of hot water.
After just a few months on this restricted diet, I had blood tests done and two of the inflammatory markers (ESR and CRP – erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein) were back to within normal levels. This astonished my rheumatologist when I saw her on 1st March. I insisted I was feeling better (which I was, although my hands still looked inflammed). Despite this great news, I still had, and continue to have, active inflammation. This is clearly visible in my hands and wrists, and one wrist has a swollen bump between the wrist and hand, called an effusion.
Against medical advice (as the rheumatologist wanted me to try out another drug), I asked to put the treatment on hold til I’d seen the neurologist about the migraines and numbness. She reluctantly agreed, but said she’d scan my hands again with the ultrasound in June to assess the level of inflammation.
Although I realise that diet alone is probably not enough to have a remission, I keep E’s story in my mind as inspiration because I really want this to work. I know everyone responds to medication differently, but in my case the side effects / adverse reaction always seems worse than the benefits. So, for the time being I’m sticking with it.