Inspirational Rheumatoid Arthritis Interview With Karen
Inspirational story from Karen about healing RA symptoms naturally
In this podcast you will learn how lifestyle changes can dramatically improve Rheumatoid Arthritis. Clint talks diet, exercise, supplements and emotional influences that have helped our guest Karen transform her life and get back on track after ‘decades’ of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Clint: All right so I’m here with a very special guest today. We’ve only just met, so it’s been a real pleasure to be able to sit down today with Karen who has a great story that I wanted everyone to hear today. In fact, I haven’t heard this before myself. We’ve been holding off so that Karen can share it all with me for the first time whilst we’re recording this audio so that everyone can hear it and it comes off as original to my ears. It will be really nice to hear this story. I believe it’s a very good one. It’s a success story that I hope will be both inspiring but also useful in terms of some action items that can be put in place to help reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain. Thanks very much for coming on this recording, Karen.
Karen: Hi. It’s great to meet you. You’re my hero.
Clint: Anyone who has rheumatoid and is working their hardest to try to reduce their joint pain is a hero in my opinion. I think we’re both on equal ground.
Karen: Probably so.
Clint: Tell us a little bit about your background with rheumatoid arthritis and how it all came about. Share that with us.
Karen: The very first time I actually got diagnosed with arthritis I was about 15. My very first job was in a delicatessen in a big department store. I was working in amongst freezers and all that, so it was very cold.
Clint: That would have been diagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 15?
Karen: Yeah, I was just told it was arthritis, a lot in my fingers and that. I just went home one night, I went to bed, just woke up probably at [10:00], come up pretty much screaming. I’m just in so much pain. Mum and Dad just threw me in the back of the car and drove me down to the hospital about half an hour. Yeah, I just gone through all the process and ended up in hospital for about two weeks.
Clint: Two weeks in the hospital, was it just the fingers at that point?
Karen: I just had the pain all through me. I didn’t know what was going on. The pain was just atrocious. Pretty much I think I just had anti-inflammatories for the two weeks and just went out again. Then I had lost my job. They put me in a different section where it wasn’t so cold and everything. They reckon that it probably exuberated the pain. Then it was just a lot of finger stuff and just smaller stuff after that. It was just I got this big bang of it, then it settled. For a few years, it was just little bits in my fingers, just the small joints.
Clint: What drugs were you on from that point, from the age 15?
Karen: I think I was only on Voltaren or something like that. It wasn’t an ongoing thing. Once it settled, I went off it again. It was just strange how I had this flare-up and then it just seemed to disappear again.
Clint: So that was the first occurrence, but we’re about to hear a lot more worse than that coming up. Okay, so then what happened next? When did it start to become a full-blown, really life-altering health condition?
Karen: I think in 1991, my Dad died. That was such a big event in my life. I’m the youngest in my family of five. I just supported my Mum 100%, because she took it so hard. It didn’t matter what I did for the family. I was always doing the wrong thing even though I was just looking out for Mum’s best interests. I just couldn’t take all the pressure and stress. It just flared-up huge. In the end, I actually came over here. I was married at that stage, so we actually lived in Tasmania but it wasn’t Tasmania then, came over here and lived in South Australia.
Clint: You came over by yourself?
Karen: No, my husband and all the kids came over. He actually got a job up at Snowtown. I was living at Milang and he was at Snowtown. My arthritis was just so bad. I can remember one night I just picked up a picture frame of him and threw it across the floor, because he just wasn’t there with me. I was on my own. The pain was just so bad. I couldn’t get out of bed. I’d tell the kids not to touch me, because if they touched me, my joints would all just hurt. I was terrified for anyone to touch me.
Clint: What was sleeping like at night? Did you have to sleep with pillows?
Karen: It was terrible. You couldn’t move. You just sort of got in bed and hoped you could sleep because you couldn’t move once you got there. To get out of bed when my husband was there, he’d slowly swing my legs around the side and I’d just sort of brace myself. He’d just pull me up the best way he could. It was just terrible pain.
Clint: So a lot of people listening would probably relate to this situation. Certainly, I have an empathy for that situation. Night time, I used to worry about going to bed. Do you remember those Nightmare on Elm Street films back in the day? There was Freddy Krueger and he always used to attack when you fell asleep. I used to be terrified of going to bed because Freddy Krueger would occur in my joints. I’d wake up the next morning in agony, not even the next morning but throughout the night. Okay, so you’re a severe case. All of the way throughout your body was affected. Did you have it in your jaw and chest like I did?
Karen: Oh yeah. My jaw actually started real good. You’d go to the dentist and they’d say, “Open your mouth” but you can’t open your mouth. You just don’t have the flexibility to open your mouth. I just had it absolutely everywhere.
Clint: On a scale of zero to 10, and 10 being as bad as you could ever wish on your worst enemy, where were you at?
Karen: I’d probably be about a 12. I went over the limit.
Clint: We’re really setting up an incredible story then, because I’m looking at you now and you look amazing. You’re walking, as far as I can tell. You’re wearing jeans but you look uninhibited with your walking. Your arms and fingers all look perfect. Let’s get to that pretty soon. Let’s talk about, first of all, what medicines were you on at that particular case. When you’re at this 12 out of 10 and you’re throwing picture frames across, how were you then with regards to your medications?
Karen: Honestly, I’m not sure what I was taking. I just seem to have a blank of that part, because I was suffering really, really bad depression then. Actually while I was in that same mode, I’d been put in hospital with really, really bad depression. I reckon I was in the hospital about a month on really strong…
Clint: Was that coming from just the agony and the pain?
Karen: I think that was just coming from all that, yeah. So it wasn’t just that. It was the really bad depression as well. I went to my doctor. I was just so bad one night. I’d just lost it in his room. I just went like that and I just brushed everything off his desk. That was before I went to hospital. He said, “We need to get you in the hospital now.” I just sat down and bawled my eyes out. I just couldn’t cope with it all. Around that time, that’s when I actually got referred to see Professor Les Cleland at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. I tried lots of different medications, the Plaquenil, methotrexate, I can’t remember the other one I was on. But I did try lots of different…
Clint: Did you ever get on to the biologics?
Clint: Were you taking daily non-steroidal painkillers like the Panadol, the Voltaren, the Advils and those things or did you stop them at some point once you were on the heavier drugs?
Karen: Yeah, I stopped them. Actually, one of the drugs I was on must have been prednisolone because I went from about 10 stone up to about 14 stone or something.
Clint: Right, you got the blow out effect.
Karen: Yeah, so then you feel like a big balloon, so you’ve got all that feeling bad because you’ve put so much weight on as well. Then the weight doesn’t help your joints either. It’s just a vicious circle.
Clint: All right, we’ve definitely taken our listeners to a place of oh my god, that’s bad. Let’s try to lighten things up a bit. What did you then try? Obviously all of us in this position, as most of our listeners will have been, a place of extreme frustration and thinking there’s no hope and all of those associated negative feelings. When did you start looking for an alternative and what alternatives were you looking at?
Karen: I suppose mainly I would just go online. I was always just Googling to see if there was any cure for arthritis. Pretty much, you might have some little diet and they might say about but you find a lot of reviews that say it didn’t help. I don’t know. I really just couldn’t find a lot at all. I suppose I just put all my faith into my rheumatologist, just got to him. He was absolutely awesome. He’d just try everything for me. I mean, Plaquenil when I was on that, my skin was going green. Everyone would say, “You’ve got green skin. Oh yeah, [Inaudible [00:09:49] We’d better get you off that.” He tried different combinations. In the end, the methotrexate seemed to get me where I was pretty stable.
Clint: Okay, did you have side effects on that one? For me, the side effects of methotrexate were extreme tiredness. I was a walking zombie to the point where even if I had had a standard amount of sleep, I was always tired, really tired.
Kim: I used to be tired, but I think I think it’s hard to say because you get depression that goes with the disease anyway. I suffered a lot of depression. I was wondering whether that might have been a lot to do with that drug as well.
Clint: Support from the rheumatologist and he seemed to be working with you with the drugs, but now I know, spoiler alert, you’re on no drugs at all. Obviously we met online. You reached out with a few emails to me and now you’re part of our community and stuff. When did you start looking at dietary changes, natural approaches and so forth? Tell us what worked and how you transitioned off the meds.
Karen: Fine as it was, I was just going on to my computer, probably Facebook or something crazy and there’s this tiny little ad pops up on my computer. It was so small, but it was just so bright to me like, “Hey. There’s something that says cure for arthritis.” I zoomed straight in and I reckon in 10-15 minutes, I’d got my credit card and joined. I paid the money and I was in. I followed your book to the T. Everything you suggested in your manual, I did it. All my little signs, my musters, and all my positive thinking I did. I don’t know where the willpower comes from, but I just thought well I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it. I love my coffee. I’m a chocoholic, but I just went cold turkey with everything. I just did all my salads. My juices are my holy grail. They still are every day. If I can’t have my juice, I’m really angry because I believe my juice, like I said, is my holy grail. I’ve got to have that every day.
Clint: A lot of people say that and I think if anyone was to pick one thing out of my recommendations, it would be that juice. I’ve had customers email me and say, “I haven’t even started your recommendations yet, but I’ve just decided to implement the celery and cucumber juice. I already feel better and I haven’t even started.” This has given me a lot of excitement. That’s not uncommon. Often on Facebook, when people are communicating on different forum groups, I notice that the juice is what comes up the most. There is something in that juice and it’s something that I did every single day. So one action step then sounds like from the tips of Karen would be to certainly, it’s cucumber and celery juice. It’s very simple to prepare. You need a juicer.
Now people ask me what about blenders? Well, you can use a blender and have what is essentially like a green smoothie without the fruit which is just pulping up all together, the celery and the cucumber. The problem with drinking it with all of its fiber in the glass as well, all mushed up together, is that I used to find that I’d be on the toilet all the time, because your body isn’t used to drinking fiber. It’s meant to masticate, eat fiber. When you remove the fiber and it becomes a juice, then the body gets to take in all those nutrients. It’s very cooling to the joints. It’s very alkalizing and very rich in nutrients. I think the green juice, that particular green juice, is the only thing that’s better than water. It’s predominately water but its alkalizing and nutrient rich water.
Karen: I also add kale now, and always like to have my green apple in it as well. It gives that tiny little bit of sweet taste as well.
Clint: Absolutely and with the kale, you sometimes need a little bit of sweetening because it’s got such a mineral flavor. Okay, so that’s great. We’ve learned about the importance of the juice. What else did you implement and then how did you start to see more changes?
Karen: I definitely just cut out all coffee, all milk, all dairy, coffee and then I just went on to doing my grains, quinoa and all the other grains I went on to and rices. I still have a lot of them. I have steamed veggies or make my soups.
Clint: What’s your breakfast look like?
Karen: I love my breakfast. I have my big bowl of oats and I always put my banana in it, my honey. I put blueberries, macadamia nuts and banana on top.
Clint: That’s my breakfast by the way. Inside our community, you know that we often talk about breakfast and recently I’ve been discussing oats in there. With my particular journey, I got to a point where I’d been able to eliminate 90% to 95% of the pain in my body. It took a long time. I was kind of stuck at that level where I still had maybe a C-reactive protein of maybe two or three. From a medical point of view, I was in the normal range of inflammation. My sed rate might have been, I don’t know, 10mm per hour or something, again, well within range. However, I knew there was inflammation in my body. I was stuck at this level. And after maybe six months or a year at that level, at that low inflammation level, I was able to finally get rid of that last little bit. Three things happened at the same time.
One was transitioning to oats for breakfast. Simultaneously, I also started taking the potassium supplements after I watched the Michael Greger video on nutritionfacts.org. So I was taking potassium each day once I learned about that study and about relieving rheumatoid arthritis pain with a group of actual case study of people with RA with potassium. Also, there was something else I did at the same time which I should remember, but I just forget right now. Potassium and the oats and oh, orange juice, that’s what it was. I was drinking more orange juice with my meals because I learned about the ability of the orange juice to raise hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach. So I wanted to raise my hydrochloric acid levels to help in my protein digestion. That along with the increasing potassium to help my own natural cortisone levels, and I’ll link to the Michael Greger video in the notes below where this audio is posted so people can go watch that video for themselves.
Also the oats for breakfast because according to bacterial experts and gut experts, particularly Hiromi Shinya who wrote The Enzyme Factor and also some other books I’ve been recently reading about the gut, is the mucosal effect of these grains can help restore the mucosal lining in the gut. I believe that the oats went a long way to just almost like the final coat of paint, as if I’d done a lot of the undercoat but the undercoat just wasn’t quite protecting me from my own food, my bloodstream from my food. I think the oats went a long way to finishing that step for me.
I want to just put a footnote here and say that oats are one of the most allergenic foods. If you’re just starting out on your dietary explorations, oats are something that most people do have trouble with or at least a large percentage of people have trouble with because it’s in the cereal family. For newcomers listening to this and they’re like no way, I can’t eat oats. That’s common at the start of your dietary exploration. I believe, as a final, towards the conclusion end to all of your dietary changes or at that the last stage of introduction of foods that oats should be at least on the radar or on the roadmap down the track for most people. The fact that you’re able to eat them and not eat them with pain, for me, feels like you’ve been able to skip to the end of the process. Now once on those oats, you are ingesting daily a protection against ever having an unexplained outbreak of this disease again. That’s how I feel about it.
Karen: Yeah, I started them really early. I just followed your program pretty much. When you said I could start oats, I went yey, yeah! I just went on to them straight away. There was just no side effects, no flare-ups or anything. I thought this was great.
Clint: Okay, that’s fantastic because it’s normally, for the majority of people, they’re normally more towards the later end of the introduction process. The fact that you’re able to do it early is just outstanding. That’s another great insight. How are you now? Tell us. Describe, because people can’t see you right now. Just describe how your body feels and I want you to paint a picture.
Karen: I just feel awesome. I don’t know. Well, I’ve started doing five-kilometer park runs which I think they’ve got going all through Australia. I don’t know.
Clint: So literally running?
Karen: Yeah and I’ve never been able to run all my life, because my body. I just always questioned my body. Why can’t I run? Why are my joints so there’s just no flexibility? I’m not running the whole way, because you’ve got to build up. You just can’t go and do a whole five kilometres of run but I’m doing that and I could never do that. I don’t know. I’m just finding I can do a lot more. My body’s more flexible. I just feel so much healthier. Yeah, it’s hard to explain. You just feel absolutely fantastic.
Clint: Well, I feel the same way. It took me a lot longer it seems than it took you.
Karen: That’s what I can’t understand. How come it took me 11 months for me to be actually declared to be in remission from when I started the program?
Clint: I want people to understand that’s on the shorter side.
Karen: It was hard work. You had to be absolutely dedicated. I don’t know where I found the dedication and the willpower. I still don’t know where I found it.
Clint: I always say the pain is a great motivator. That, I think, is probably where you were able to draw upon is because the alternative is just, for me, is not worth it. You do have a choice. And my expression that is “You’re always going to have pain in life. You can have the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Are we going to bear the cross of having to be disciplined with what we eat and the amount of exercise we are willing to put into our life? Or are we going to have the pain of the outcome of the wrong foods, the lack of exercise and the dependence on medications that cause more intestinal problems that perpetuate the disease? For me it’s black and white. It’s so simple that you might as well have a different form of pain and that is the discipline way. It makes it easier when you feel that you have the right information and you can put trust in something. Once doubt creeps in, then doubt undermines your effects.
When you have someone, and this is one of the main reasons I wanted to chat with you, when you have someone like yourself who’s been dedicated and been through it, put in the — I hate the expression the hard yards but done the days and the hours of discipline and come out the other side, it’s inspiring. It’s like a real pleasure and excitement for me to hear this. I want as many people as possible to hear this. You remember the four-minute mile with Roger Bannister. Until he ran the four-minute mile, it was considered a human impossibility. The same thing goes for rheumatoid arthritis. Until people know that other people have completely recovered from it, because of the constant message from the medical community, the people who we listen to the most closely and who have all of the degrees, the big offices and all the power, we are led to believe it’s impossible. I’m not saying that there’s thousands of people running around now all jumping for joy, pain-free and drug-free because they’ve followed a particular process, mine or others, but we need to know that they exist.
Karen: That’s right. You probably know, partway through my 12 months, I’m on the lines and all, out of hope, I’ve really hit dead spot. I just can’t keep to my plan. Everything’s going wrong. Then I gave myself a good slap around. I thought no, this is none. It’s all in my hands. Get up there and keep doing it. That’s what I did. I did ask my rheumatologist once, in between that, about the diet, because I didn’t tell him at that stage I was doing this. I said, “Do you think diet can help?” He just said, “No.” I just left it there. I didn’t say any more.
Clint: I think that’s wise. My particular rheumatologist was incredibly lateral in his thinking. I told him. He watched me like some kind of science experiment as I would come in on my bi-monthly visits. He watched as I went through my raw food diet and I lost a ton of weight. I’ve always been slim but I got really skinny. He watched my blood test results with absolute fascination. It became almost humorous. I’d go in there and he’s lie, “What have you got for me this time?” Not like, “How am I doctor,” but it was an update to my story. He genuinely was fascinated by what was going on, especially when I started to put the weight back on, my blood test results remained low and also I got off the medications. Now I haven’t seen him for a couple of years. I intend to go and I actually want to get him on the podcast and have a chat with him. I’ll do that hopefully in a future episode. It’s a road not commonly travelled but I’m certainly glad that you stuck with it. That’s for sure.
Karen: I sort of wonder because you know that I was doing the medications and you know that my specialist in the end put me on the Myocrisin or the gold injection. I did that for a few months and then I was getting bad side effects.
Clint: When was this? Like before?
Karen: This was last year, because I went off it. When did I go off it, maybe May or something? It was in the middle of last year. I had such bad side effects. He just said to me to just go off all medication. I’m thinking oh my gosh. I’m going off my methotrexate. I’m going off everything. I’m not going to have any drugs. I was still feeling really good. I just went home and thought I can either dwell on that, my brain is thinking yeah, you’re worrying about the drugs. No, I’m just going to say to myself that I’m not going to have rheumatoid arthritis. The drugs, the pain, nothing’s going to come back, because I’m not on the drugs. Going off this gold injection and all the drugs, I never went back on drugs. I’m just wondering that if I hadn’t had the side effects, would I still be doing drugs now. I wouldn’t have known I was in remission.
Clint: My gosh that’s interesting. When we’re on medication, we don’t know a life without it. I don’t encourage anyone to stop taking their medications, unless they follow the strict procedures that I recommend in my book which is that you need to use your blood markers to indicate. This is what I was taught by my rheumatologist and so I always follow it and encourage other people to do what one of Australia’s best rheumatologists recommends which is unless you’re showing a couple months of consistently normal inflammation in your blood, then you’re not in a position where you can drop your meds. In your case, because of the side effects, you were forced.
Karen: I dropped them and then a month later or whatever, when I had my next blood test here, I was still coming down. Then three months after I’d gone off the medication I thought, it’s got to be out of my system now. My blood results were still coming down.
Clint: So what are they today? When did you last get measured?
Karen: I haven’t had it done now, but what was it 10 or something that I was the last I got down to, 10, I think, when I went and saw my specialist last. I was walking in with this big smile. He’s opened up the door. I think he had a bigger smile as what I did because he had already seen my blood test results. I was just ready to hug him. I though hang on, there’s a professor there. I better not hug him even though I’ve known him for 15 years. It was just the biggest feeling when I said, “Well, am I in remission?” He said, “Well, I guess we could say that.” I don’t know. It’s so hard to feel.
When I walked out of his office and sat in the car, I just started crying. I cried all the way home driving home. These tears were coming down. My daughter was home when I got home, but she was in her bedroom. I just went in my bedroom and shut the door. I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I don’t know if it was 20 years relief. I don’t know what it was. I’d been told I was in remission. I don’t have to take any more blood tests, no more medication and I just cried it all out.
Clint: It’s just such a moving moment in your life. So you haven’t had to contact the doctor again? That figure of 10 that you mentioned, you’ve posted to me and sent me your results. It’s not 10. It’s a lot lower than that because it was totally normal. It was under.
Karen: It was normal whatever it was. I was on 40 when I started with you. I was about 40 or something. I can’t remember the number.
Clint: I can check that if anyone wants to pry into the details. I know that at the time and since that time, you’ve only continued to improve. So you’re telling me just before, the only thing you told me before we started chatting is that your knees were very damaged over the years from the constant inflammation. You were having drainage from you having your knees drained and then cortisone shots into your knees. Tell us about that and then what you’re doing now, for anyone who’s got knee problems, what you’re now doing for your knees.
Karen: My knees were absolutely the worst affected, because I had fluid on them and they were swollen all the time. He’d drain the fluid and then the fluid would be just back again as quickly as he drained it pretty much.
Clint: Like days or hours?
Karen: Hours or maybe the next day, it didn’t take long at all. Then you’d have cortisone shots in the knees. I hated them. They’re so painful, just uncomfortable. He actually flushed my knee one day. That was terrible. He put all the fluid in and then he couldn’t get it out. There must have been little pieces floating around. He was asking the nurse how to get them out. I’m thinking please get it out. That wasn’t very comfortable. He didn’t lie me down. He made me sitting up so I could see it all. Just drop the bed. I don’t want to see it. He got that out. For normal people, if they sit on the floor they can just push up and stand up. I can’t. I’ve got to turn around and then push myself up. There’s no way I could get up without getting on my knees and then pushing myself up. Squatting and all that’s been a bit hard.
Lately I’ve been practicing lunges and squats. I go on the treadmill. I ride the exercise bike, just anything I can do to try to strengthen them up a bit.
Clint: Those two things are very important, not to be just overlooked. For me, exercise was absolutely essential. The clients that I work with who tell me they’re not making progress, I don’t even need to normally continue to read their email. I know what the problem always is. The people who don’t make progress are the people who don’t move. If you don’t move, I say if you don’t move it, you lose it. It could not be more true for joints. Joints, all they’re designed for in the body is to move. If your joint’s not meant to move, it’s a straight bone. If you have a joint, it’s designed to move back and forth as its only objective in your body. If you deny it that movement, it will lose its original functionality and it will degrade.
For me, I had to go to Bikram Yoga every single day and in some actual days I went twice, because I actually felt like I might not be able to walk the next day so I’d spend three hours in a hot yoga class so that I could walk. This went on for the good part of a year and a half. That was going every day and only occasionally I’d go twice a day. If I didn’t move, I went downhill. If all I did was adopt the dietary changes that I believe are most suitable but I didn’t do the exercise, I would have continued to degrade. That doesn’t mean you have to do Bikram. In your case, I don’t think you’ve ever done yoga, right?
Karen: No, I haven’t. Actually I found a class close by and I still would like to go and try it. I’ve contacted them and really found out everything about it. It’s just when I’ll get a free Sunday or whatever. I do want to go and just try it, see how I go with it.
Clint: When I went in there, I could only put my weight on my right leg. My left knee was the big swollen size of a large orange. In my first class, I’ll never forget the teacher walked behind me. I was in the back row trying to hide because I was just a cripple-y sort of guy. I was in the back row and the teacher walked behind me. He just put his hand on my lower back and said, “You need to come every day.” I did. I took that advice on and I told him a couple years later. He totally forgot that he even said that to me. I said, “Mate, you don’t even remember saying that but that changed my life, those words.” If I hadn’t, who knows where I would have been. For me, that was my cane. It was my support system.
Karen: I don’t know if you block a lot out because you do have so much pain, but I can remember now when I was in Tasmania. I did have it really badly. I used to have to wear the splints on my hands that had the metal bar going right up the middle of your hand. I couldn’t sew on anything. If there was anything off, she’d always have to go and ask him to sew it because I couldn’t sew on anything. Trying to drive the car, both hands have got the splints on them, so trying to drive and change gears, we had to get an automatic car because I couldn’t change the gears. That was another time. They actually made, you go in and get the splints made. You put your hand in and they sort of build it around your arm. I was supposed to sleep with that but that was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t sleep with them to try to stop my hands from swelling up and it got so painful at night.
Clint: The things that we go through with rheumatoid arthritis just have to be seen or experienced to be believed. I’ve often said that the disease is as bad or worse than cancer, but doesn’t actually literally kill you. That’s not to dismiss the horrific experiences of poor sufferers of cancer. That’s not to belittle the horrendous diagnosis of that. It’s just to say that during the experience of rheumatoid arthritis, I couldn’t have imagined anything worse, yet it doesn’t have a fatal ending. In your mind, you’re not living. It’s shocking.
Karen: What I found really hard, probably when I was in late 20s maybe, just had a young family, my bouts were just up and down all through my life, just little bits and pieces here and there. What I think I found the worst, even with my family, my siblings and that, is that they can’t see it. It’s something you can’t see. You can sit there and people think why don’t you get up and do something. You’re sitting there, you’re in so much pain but no one can see it. You just look normal from the outside, unless they can see you’ve got splints or something on or your fingers might not be swollen up, they’re just really sore. They might not be swollen. No one can notice it. It’s just a hidden disease.
Clint: I know. Yeah, definitely. Wow, you’re bringing back thoughts in my mind about the experience as well. You have such an internal dialogue of frustration and why me. This sucks beyond words. I used to develop a lot of internal anger and I’d want to punch the wall but my hands and wrists and fingers hurt so much that I couldn’t, because I knew that I’d just hurt me so much. I said to Melissa so many times, “I just want to go and get a punching bag and spend a couple of hours just punching a punching bag.” In fact, when I started to get better, I actually tried to do that a little bit just very gently hitting against it. Emotionally it felt amazing, but it didn’t help me with my healing. It was setting me back with my elbows as the jar went into them. The elbows were the main thing with that so I didn’t do it. The freedom you feel when you’re letting out some emotion was really good.
Again, exercise helps so much with that, because after your heart rate gets up and you start to really get in the swing, your body takes over and you start to get out of your mind. Your body then becomes on its roll with your exercise. You do feel a sense of elation that you cannot get unless you push through the brain’s reluctance to start the exercise itself. That’s another reason I found that exercise was really important, to get out of my head because it’s like you feel trapped.
Karen: Yeah, I suppose I’ve always walked. When I was at school, I’d always come last in the running races. P.E., I just couldn’t do stuff like [inaudible [00:39:27]. I just couldn’t do it and I think everyone else can, so why can’t I? I’ve always walked even when I had the kids. However far it was, I’d always put them in the pusher, walk them to school and come back again. I’ve always kept active. I suppose that has helped.
Clint: I’m certain that’s helped a lot, just not being sedentary. Is that the word?! I’ve always seen that word more than I’ve said it.
Karen: Saying it and seeing it are two different things, absolutely.
Clint: I think we’ve covered everything I wanted to get through. I really wanted to hear your story. I really wanted to learn about the struggles that you’ve been through.
Karen: If you don’t mind, there’s just one thing I’d like to bring up, and that’s about living on the farm in Tasmania when I was a kid. Mum and Dad, sometimes I think they were like the Beverly Hillbillies or something. We just about ate anything. Mum would have kangaroo rissole. She’d try native hen. We’d have rabbit pie. But we also had homemade butter for a little while. You had the full cream just straight off the milk because we milked cows. We absolutely just lived on the cow’s milk. Even after I got married, because that was where I was brought up, everyone just thought cow’s milk’s is just really great for you. That’s the best you can have was the thing in our minds. When I left home and got married, we still lived in another rural area. So we still went and bought the cow’s milk.
I’m just wondering whether my way of life, fair enough my other siblings didn’t get it and they ate all the same stuff, but whether I was just the one that my immune was just down or whatever and maybe that form of eating and all that, whether that certainly didn’t help.
Clint: Well right now, your question is being directed at me, and my answer obviously is my opinion and my feelings on this which, and you already know the answer, because everyone knows my line of thinking, I would say without doubt, hands down, bet every dollar I have that it certainly contributed to increasing your risk factor. That doesn’t mean it caused it. It just means that if you’ve got a predisposed susceptibility or it’s almost like a genetic weakness towards getting a certain condition. It doesn’t mean that that will manifest in your lifetime unless a certain set of conditions are presented to the body that allow it to occur. In the studies that are presented and in the scientific literature about diet and rheumatoid arthritis, the thing that comes up the most, the two things that come up the most are meat products and dairy products.
There are some cases that have been recorded where people have completely gotten rid of their rheumatoid arthritis by just eliminating dairy alone. For me, if someone says, “I need to change my diet,” and I just met someone socially, “Oh my grandmother’s got rheumatoid arthritis.” Immediately I just say, “Just kill all dairy products immediately. Stop all dairy products.” That’s your number one thing. Beyond that, if you can add a lot of salads to your meals, replace dairy completely, think about adding a salad with your lunch and evening meals, you’ll go a long way to reducing pain straight away. Not that’s not going to cure the disease, not going to flip everything around for 99% of people, but I would say for 99% of people, they will improve, which is huge. If you’re thinking of the lengths people go to with their medications to try and get some reduction in pain, where I’m saying that 99% of people will improve if they stop eating dairy. It’s a no-brainer. The dairy is the killer.
Yes, I believe that in your early life, in those first developing years if you’re living off milk and animals like I was, you’re setting yourself up. They’re just risk factors for disease development. For me, I grew up on meat, meat, meat, three times a day. My Dad used to say, “Give the man meat.” That’s what he’d say to me when I was 12. “Give the man meat.” He’d read one of these books from Atkins or one of these low-carb, high meat philanthropists that we needed tons of protein, that protein phase. Anyway, Dad thought he was doing the right thing by the family, because I’ve always been slim. I think Dad wanted to make me look a bit [inaudible [00:44:23] Yeah, maybe, or maybe he didn’t care. Maybe he just thought it was good for health and that’s okay. I’m going to make mistakes as a parent as well.
Now Dad is essentially vegetarian and Dad has a cattle farm. It just goes to show that we can change and you can teach an old dog new tricks. As long as we’re willing to learn and be open to results, not to what we are told by the mass media, because money goes into the mass media to convince us of things they’d want to sell. The results are that if you’re going to eat a ton of meat and a ton of dairy, you’re going to have a higher risk factor for things you don’t want in your life from a health point of view. I’m glad you brought that up. I come from a meat background. You’ve come from a lot of dairy background.
Karen: Yeah, we always killed our own meat or whatever. Dad loved his meat, so there was always a meat there. The thing is you always looked up to your parents. Well I did. I thought what Mum told me was gospel way back then. You didn’t know any different.
Clint: I know and they meant well. In moderation, without someone with a health condition, those things can be broken down. Those foods can be eaten without detriment to someone who’s healthy and the predominant intake of their foods are from plant-based sources. You can eat a little meat, eat a little fish, eat a little dairy and your body just burns it up just like kindle on a fire. No problem. It’s when that’s the bulk of your meals, the body doesn’t develop a strong ability to prevent those things from causing disease. Some people might have a lot of questions on what do you eat then, but that’s for another time. I just want this conversation to be about you, your story and to be inspirational. I can see now, you can move your fingers no problem. Right?
Karen: Yeah, I’ve got my Nana’s ring on. I’ve been waiting for so long to wear my Nana’s engagement ring. I probably can’t get it off at the moment. My fingers are a bit hot.
Clint: How many years have you had of you not being able to?
Karen: It will be at least two years. First my Mum died in 2009 and that’s when I got my grandmother’s engagement ring from her. I’ve just been waiting. I got it sized. It took me an age just to get it sized. It was fitting and all of a sudden, nope. After having it sized, my fingers went up again.
Clint: Yeah, okay. The fingers have just been coming down, haven’t they?
Karen: Yeah, what I’ve been doing lately is using those hand grips. I’ve just been exercising with them. Whenever I’m sitting down, I’m just squeezing the hand grips, the metal ones.
Clint: Interesting. So you’re putting those joints through a range of motion over and over again.
Karen: I’ll just do repetitions of 10 or 20 or something.
Clint: I used to do a similar thing. Throughout the day, I would just move my hands like I’m doing now, just back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, just moving all the joints through their range of motion but not putting them into a state where they were really being irritated by that, just moving them through the range of motion. It just clears out that inflammation. I find that nothing better for the joints that are affected than making them move in a way that doesn’t aggravate the pain.
Karen: I’m really surprised because 12 months ago, if I’d have used those hand grips then, it would have aggravated them. The next morning I would have woken up, I wouldn’t have been able to use my fingers. I wouldn’t be able to bend them. They would just be solid blobs of swollenness. Now it’s not affecting them. I don’t push it too hard. I just do a few repetitions. It just seems to be giving me that more strength and just a bit more flexibility in my joints.
Clint: Yeah, I completely agree. You’ve got to use it or lose it.
Karen: Yeah, that’s it.
Clint: Have we left anything out?
Karen: I don’t know. You tell me.
Clint: I don’t think so. I think that we’ve clearly established the dramatic improvements that you’ve made. I think from what you’ve described, especially with your knees, that they will continue to improve. I had to. I still like to exercise my left knee which was severely damaged. I was looking at a knee replacement. I’ve got the original knee in there and now it doesn’t cause me any pain when I walk. But I’ve had to do a lot of work on that, a huge amount of work. I’ve had to look at it like I had a two- or three-year rehabilitation process. Everything similar to what you’ve described like the squats, the certain postures that I will talk about in the book and in other podcasts. It’s taken work. It’s taken a lot of work. Fortunately, I enjoy rehabilitation-style exercise especially ones with the knee that you can do at home, getting down on your knee, doing some modified squats, as you said also getting on an exercise bike, just that resistance. The knee’s most natural movement is the pushing away movement just like you do when you’re walking.
For me, anything that involved pushing the heel away from the hip joint in a way that straightens your leg so that the weight is as thought you’re pushing the ground away from you, that movement is the best for healing the knee. Strengthening the quadriceps where it joins the top of the patella, at the top of the knee there. Any movement like that used to always help, and things that used to hurt me are doing things like lying down on my stomach at the gym and trying to do hamstring curls. This always used to cause great problems with me and anything that involved jumping or sudden impact through the knee. I’m well impressed with your ability to run right now. That’s phenomenal.
Karen: Yeah, you know how you might sit on a ledge or something or you might have a little ledge that high like in a car park or something that you’ve just got to jump down. I’d never do it. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’d never do it because I’d always be scared my legs, knees just wouldn’t hold me. Everyone’s just natural. They can just jump down this little bit. I thought oh if I do that my legs are likely to give way from me but one day.
Clint: I see that coming fairly soon. That has a lot to do with the glute muscle. As you’re going down, you really engage the glute. As you’re going down steps, and as well as the quadriceps, obviously the whole leg, but the glute is where I find can really support going down steps.
Karen: Yeah, I always found going down steps was terrible. I’d just drop, drop, drop. It was terrible. I could go up steps, okay but going down stairs when I was bad, terrible.
Clint: Well the exercise you’re doing with your modified squats and stuff, they’re really good for the glutes. I don’t see going down steps as being too far away for you.
Karen: I was actually running down steps last night at work.
Clint: There you go. I don’t know what you’re talking about!
Karen: Yeah well, that was 12 months ago. The only thing to me now, I’d probably miss a step and go careening down over the steps.
Clint: Well we have to relearn how to use our body the way it was meant to work again. That’s an exciting phase. Thanks so much for having this chat with me. It’s been lovely to meet you in person. I look forward to seeing continual improvements over the coming years and staying in touch. You’ve been really wonderful to have on the recording.
Karen: Thank you. I’ll still send you a message or ask you a question or something. I pretty much guarantee it.
Clint: All right, thanks Karen.
Karen: You’re welcome.