Michael came to my clinic about two years ago, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). He was only in his 50s, and a very talented musician, but he was unable to work more than an hour or two a day. The drugs he needed to control his painfully swollen joints had become so expensive that he was forced to consider selling his house so he could continue them. But then a friend suggested he look into integrative medicine, and he found me.
I wasn’t surprised that Michael was sick. He had just about every bad habit imaginable, including smoking, heavy drinking, no exercise, and a diet that provided very little nutrition. With patients like him, it’s hard to know where to begin. Finally, I decided to work with him on improving his diet first and then see if he was willing to make other changes.
After a month of home cooking and a lot more vegetables and fruits, Michael’s fatigue and brain fog were fading and he was feeling good enough to tackle smoking.
Fast-forward six months. Michael had taken my advice very seriously and revamped his life. He had quit smoking and drinking, eliminated wheat, sugar, and processed foods from his diet, begun a walking program, and learned to meditate, among other things. In addition, he was taking therapeutic doses of vitamin D3, fish oil, and probiotics, all of which eased his rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. By his one-year anniversary, Michael was in remission and off all the RA medications.
“I didn’t really know anything about integrative medicine,” he told me during his last visit. “I thought it was mostly mumbo jumbo. Now I tell everyone that it saved my life. The RA was so painful – I could barely walk some days, let alone play the guitar. My life is so much better now. It took a couple days of backsliding to remind me what it was like to be sick. Never again! Change is hard, but being sick is much harder.”
Patients like Michael, who do the work and realize how rewarding it is, are what keep me going. As long as he stays with his new program, Michael should be playing the guitar – pain-free — and living in his house for years to come.