Hello my friends, I hope you are all well.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to give you a little progress report.
The progress I refer to is the fact that I haven’t taken any pharmaceutical medication in a year now. Not even so much as paracetamol has entered my body.
No drugs = no side effects
It is a big deal for me that I no longer need to rely on painkillers.
I am part of some support groups for arthritis and I hear a lot of fellow sufferers talk about awful side effects they have to prescription medication and having to switch between different ones until they can find one that doesn’t affect them as badly.
So I can only imagine how many others are out there suffering side effects and would love to be in my position and not needing to take any.
And to clarify I do have severe arthritis in my left ankle, little to no movement in the joint and bone spurs.
How do I know it has been a year, simply because yesterday was my 1st wedding anniversary and that was the last time I took painkillers.
Has the pain lessened that much in a year?
Yes is the answer, which of course leads to the question why?
Why am I not in as much pain?
Arthritis is supposed to get worse, not better?
What has changed in this past year?
Well, what has happened, not just this year but each year, I evolved. Each year since diagnosis my pain has reduced barring the winter of 2017 when I suffered a huge setback.
I lost my job, had to dig out one of my crutches I still had from my original hospital stay and was referred to a specialist as the local surgeons believed amputation may be the way to go.
You can imagine my surprise at this suggestion.
The surgeon in my town told me that there were people living a better life with one leg than I was with two.
After some thought and reflection of this comment, I thought to myself, rather than amputate my leg in order to live better maybe I should instead learn how to live better and keep both legs intact.
I am of course not insinuating that having a leg amputated would be the end of the world, many people in today’s society have amputated limbs and for a whole host of reasons.
They still live rich and full lives and can do incredible things, but I still felt that amputation would have to be the last resort for me, I hadn’t tried everything I could I hadn’t learnt all I could about ways to beat this.
So how did I get from that place a year ago to not needing any painkillers shortly after.
Acceptance and continued incremental changes
The incremental change part I was used to, I had been doing that continually since my diagnosis and still do to this day.
The acceptance part involved me looking at what had gone wrong to leave me in pain continually for months, unable to do my job and having a specialist talking about amputation.
First off, it was a cold winter, cold being relative to where I live. Obviously, if you are reading this from Iceland or Finland I have no doubt your winter was colder and if you are reading this from somewhere like southern Spain with year-round sun, just know that I envy you and hope to one day have enough money to migrate there.
Second, my job at the time. The job was actually delivering medications for people and institutions, it was a job that involved constantly being in and out the van as well as carrying and heavy lifting.
Long story short, I was doing too much at that time. In the summer was fine and I managed it but when the weather turned I was left unable to do the job and the constant physical stress I had put upon myself was biting back at me with a vengeance.
Side note that is the thing with arthritis, we are all here because it affects us directly or someone we care about. We despise the disease and the pain and misery it causes.
That being said you have to give the disease the respect it deserves, if you don’t and you try to carry on as normal doing activities you used to be able to do and you push it too hard, it will punish you for it.
This is in essence what happened to me over a year ago because I had seen improvements year on year I became dismissive of the disease and decided it wouldn’t stop me from doing a job I felt I should be able to do.
Clearly, we know now where my dismissive attitude got me, it got me in a whole heap of pain, unemployed and left me reaching out to surgeons for medical advice.
So I had to accept that there were limitations to what I could do, for now anyway.
The incremental changes
I have said before in other posts that if I compared myself now to the person I was prior to my accident the change is massive.
Though the change doesn’t feel massive, why? Because it has happened in small incremental changes.
From smoking to vaping to non-smoker.
From regular alcohol drinker in large quantities to occasional drinker.
From energy drinks to water to filtered water.
Various chocolate and sweets to dark chocolate on occasion.
You can see how things change but they don’t all happen at once they have happened over a number of years so the change doesn’t feel too drastic unless you actually step back and analyse it like above.
There are other changes such as diet and exercise, vitamins and minerals.
Considering we are only just approaching spring here in England my ankle has been in fantastic form over winter.
I have worked through winter, I secured a part-time job last autumn and have managed to continue working with no ill effects or heightened pain.
There has been a continued reduction in pain, a continued improvement in my walking gait which has meant a regeneration of my calf muscle on the affected leg leading to improved posture and balance.
The biggest thing I have noticed in the past couple of months is that my ankle doesn’t stiffen up as quickly when I have been seated so it doesn’t take as much adjustment when standing up to walk again.
So how have I done it?
There are in my opinion a few different reasons for the change.
1. I received medical insoles last summer, due to the discovery that I had flat feet the doctor felt it would benefit my ankle arthritis if I had a tailor-made insole.
These do seem to have made a massive impact on my walking as they have enabled me to walk with a much more ‘normal’ stride which has meant my calf muscle has improved which has given me strength and stability.
Obviously, this may not be an option for everyone with ankle arthritis as you may not have flat feet but if you think you might then get yourself some bespoke medical insoles.
2. Astaxanthin. As our regular readers will know I am constantly reading, researching and experimenting with new things. Astaxanthin is a supplement that has had a huge impact on my pain and stiffness. To learn more about this read our other article relating to it here.
3. Hemp cream. A topical cream with extracts from the cannabis plant, this has helped to control swelling, pain and stiffness. Probably the best cream on the market in my opinion, better than things like Voltarol and with no side effects. Read more about it here.
4. A ketogenic diet. This is a diet that many will have heard of and depending on how I keep progressing I may devote an article to this diet.
It is essentially cutting down on carbohydrates and upping your intake of healthy fats. I have really enjoyed doing this diet and not only has it helped my joints, but it has also helped with some unwanted belly fat and the man boob area.
One of our followers recently commented on one of our Facebook posts about the reduction in pain he has had since trying a ketogenic diet so we think it is definitely worth looking in to.
I’ll wrap this up now, the points above are the changes I feel have made a significant improvement to my joint this past year.
Again I am able to do more than I could before, I am hardly in any pain and have a big reduction in stiffness of the ankle.
Okay, so there isn’t any noticeable improvement in the movement of the joint and I am not running, yet.
I am feeling positive and strong though, it is nice not to feel the need for any pharmaceutical medication anymore, I in control again!
Hope this is of use to some of you and as always leave us your comments and join in the discussion.