In this episode with Lor you’ll learn:
– The dangers of long term antibiotic use
– How early bad eating habits triggered psoriasis
– The shocking side effects prednisone can cause
– How reactions to NSAID’s like Naproxen can occur
– Challenges of Plaquenil, Sulfasalazine and Methotrexate
– How Cimzia had to be stopped due to it’s side effects
NOW: No more psoriasis, RA a fraction of it’s previous self, drug free
Clint: Today’s gonna be a lot of fun. I’ve got Lor on this episode and her and I connected on Facebook. We get a lot of fabulous comments on Facebook when people hear success stories from other people who are doing a plant-based diet or who are on the Paddison Program and Lor commented under one of our great testimonials from someone else that she also had had an outstanding recovery and reversal of symptoms using a plant-based diet. And so I’ve reached out to Lor and said, “Hey, why don’t you come on one of our podcast episodes and share your story?” because her story is not just rheumatoid but also psoriasis and we get a lot of inquiries about how to reverse psoriasis as well. So this is gonna be fascinating and I’ve saved all the juicy stuff for the conversation. We haven’t actually had much time to talk about this so Lor, thank you very much for coming on this episode.
Lor: Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be talking with you. I think you’re such a great inspiration to so many people, and it’s an honor to be sitting here having this conversation with you today, so thank you very much for having me.
Clint: Oh, thanks. That’s very kind. Today, we’re gonna focus on you and your story. Very excited to hear how it all transpired. So take the listeners or viewers through this. When did things start to go a little bit off the rails?
Lor: Okay, so I will just start by saying that I had a fairly healthy childhood, although I did get bronchitis quite often and I was put on antibiotics quite often, so I’m not sure if that played a role in my downward spiral. But I also had psoriasis of the scalp, and it wasn’t just a dandruff. It was a plaque psoriasis that more or less covered the scalp at different times of the year and throughout different times of my life. So it wasn’t until I was 20 years old, this was 2007, I got a really bad strep throat virus which is streptococcus virus.
Clint: Yeah, it’s really bad, isn’t it?
Lor: It is terrible.
Clint: And you have to treat that with antibiotics, don’t you?
Lor: Absolutely. So I went to emerg and I was treated with an antibiotic, and I can’t remember what it was now but I am allergic to penicillin so that’s not something I would have taken. So I was given an antibiotic and the strep throat did clear up, but about two weeks or a month later, I was waking up in bed and I realized that I had a rash covering my entire body. From head to toe, I was covered in these little dots with just these scaly bits just peeling off of me. They were so painful, so uncomfortable and itchy, and it was like I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t have a shower or a bath. Nothing was comfortable. And so I did go to the emerg for that and I was given prednisone. And I think it was 25 milligrams of prednisone. Does that…I’m not sure…
Clint: Yeah, that’s a lot. That’s a lot.
Lor: I’m trying to remember. I know that it was a very high dose and it was something that I weaned down off of in time, but I was on it for quite a while, and actually, this outbreak of psoriasis lasted from six to seven months so it was excruciating and it just went on forever and ever.
Clint: It’s like torture, isn’t it because…
Lor: It was absolute torture.
Clint: I’ve had, at times, very rarely thank goodness, in the past, I’ve had extreme sunburn. Here in Australia, we kind of cop everyone else’s pollution in the world and end up having no ozone over our country.
Lor: That’s right.
Clint: That’s not all from us, it’s contributions from the rest of the world that the hole happened over our country. But anyway, and we can get really, really severe UV and it’s very dangerous here, and on occasions, when I’ve not been careful, I’ve had really bad sunburn. And then on some occasions, I’ve put on the wrong moisturizing lotion or cheap aloe vera, and sometimes it irritates the heck out of it and you’re just absolutely in the most uncomfortable…Like you want to scream.
Lor: Yes, absolutely. It’s burning and it feels like a thousand knives are just…Not like the sharp end down but just going cross-wise like this across your body and your skin is so dry and scaly, and it’s an awful experience. I would not wish it on anybody, honestly. So yeah, so I was put on the prednisone for that, and I just want to say that at the time, I was drinking a lot of alcohol, and I was also working at a fast food restaurant which, I look back and think, “All my bad decisions,” you know? I loved working there but it was a soft serve ice cream joint and a fast food burger and chicken and stuff like that. So I’ll just say that that was a huge part of my diet. I was a single woman living in my own apartment. Who really wants to cook big meals for themselves every night, you know? So yeah, I’d often eat this very terrible processed sugar and fat-laden food and it was making me sicker. With that and the prednisone, I gained all of this weight, about 60 pounds, to be honest, and I think that that has a lot to do with the stress and the pressure that my body was under in general. This big shift in my body and it was just so unnatural to be happening, you know? So anyways, in 2008, it was March, April of 2008 is when I first started realizing that I was having pain.
Clint: Can I just ask if you were still on the prednisone, and by that point, had you managed to taper it down?
Lor: I would be off the prednisone at this point and the psoriasis was gone. No sign of it, no sign of the psoriasis. This was about a year later.
Clint: I know it’s hard to answer this question, but would you say that the prednisone played a large role in helping the actual skin condition dissipate, or do you think that it was something more like a reaction to all of your lifestyle choices that you then changed? Or a combination?
Lor: I believe that the prednisone did not help me at all. In fact, I think that what it did for me was make my entire situation worse because for my comfort state anyways, because now I was gaining a whole bunch of weight, I was depressed, I was anxious, I was shutting myself off from my friends and family. I was not even myself anymore, and that put me into this whole stressful situation, and I truly believe that stress plays a huge factor on our health and our emotional well-being, and our mental state has a huge impact on the way our body functions from a daily basis. And honestly, I think that if the prednisone had have helped, then my psoriasis outbreak wouldn’t have lasted six to seven months. That’s my take on it. That’s kind of my take on medicine in general. I think that we are taught to believe that medicine takes it all away but it’s really only a symptom that it’s helping. But it could be causing other symptoms. So I’m not sure if the prednisone helped my psoriasis or not. I don’t believe that it did. I feel like I know my body best, but yeah.
So it’s about a year later and I go through a string of very stressful events in my life. I lost someone that was very close to me, I lost an animal, I decided to leave a job, and I was having to move out of my apartment because the landlord was selling it. So this is a lot of very stressful things happening. At this time, I remember waking up in the night getting these pains in my feet, and it wasn’t really anywhere else but my big toes. It kind of drifted downward toward the outside of the foot but it was mostly in my big toe. I remember waking up one morning and my mattress was actually on the floor, and I couldn’t get up. Like, I couldn’t get up. I fell back down to the floor, and I had to crawl myself across my apartment to get to the bathroom, and I’m just thinking, “What is wrong with me? What is going on here? This is awful.” I’m a fairly determined person so I got myself ready and it kind of subsided over the course of the morning, and I go on to work and do my thing, you know? It wasn’t until weeks were going by and this wasn’t getting any better and it was spreading into my other toes that I thought, “Okay, I’ve got to go to see a doctor here.” So I actually went to emerg twice, and both times that I went, I was told that I had gout. Okay, so I guess that’s pretty common in people with rheumatoid.
Clint: Well, it is for the toes.
Lor: Yeah, the toes?
Clint: Yeah, it’s like classic. Classic is toes and gout, especially the big toe.
Lor: Right. So yeah, they wanted me to go back on prednisone oddly enough, and I refused because I had just been through that and I did not want to go back to that again. Oh my gosh, no. I kind of joke with my friend and say, “I was a demon on prednisone. It made me angry.” It was an awful medication to be on. Anyway, so I was really resisting going to get any help. I was putting it off. For some reason, I just thought that if I shoved it down deep enough, it would just go away and I’d blame it on my footwear or the fact that where I was working were cement floors. Just things like that, until I was staying the night at my brother’s house in a different town, and I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t move my hands. Like, my hands were clenched together and my fingers were the size of sausages. They were so swollen and I was in so much pain, and so I went and I woke my brother and his girlfriend up and I said, “I’ve got to go to the hospital. Something’s not right. This isn’t gout. Something’s going on here.” So it wasn’t until I actually went to a different hospital that the nurse there said, “Look, you’ve gotta go to your doctor. You’ve gotta get tested and see if you have these things.” And she listed off four or five different things but rheumatoid arthritis was one of them.
And so I went home that day, and right away, I called my doctor. And so it was March, April of 2008 that I started feeling these pains. It wasn’t until October that I was actually diagnosed. So I went seven or eight months without any treatment, without seeing a doctor, so I think that played a huge factor in some of the joint damage that I now have today. Yeah. So I wasn’t put on any medication at that time, I was told that I would be referred to a rheumatologist, and it’s actually kind of ironic that my family doctor, who was diagnosing me, walked into the room with two canes in his hands. He had rheumatoid arthritis. He’s actually retired now, but I just thought it was kind of ironic that he’s telling me that he has rheumatoid arthritis and he’s gonna send me to this really great rheumatologist, and I’ve never heard of this before and I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m gonna be in a wheelchair. I’m gonna be walking around with canes and braces and all these things,” and it’s such a scary, scary thing to be told. It’s awful, and I remember that day, I was told that I absolutely should not and cannot get pregnant. And I don’t really know why he was so adamant about telling me that but that’s something that he was really like, “And don’t you dare go and get pregnant.” It was very strange but then I realized the methotrexate is a huge factor in pregnancy and all that. So that was fine.
I was sent home and I was waiting for a referral, and about a month later, I was in so much pain that I needed something to subside this pain, and so I went back to the doctor and he gave me Naprosyn and I had a reaction to it. Both of my arms just blew up like balloons, like water sacs. And so I stopped taking that immediately and that was…I went back to see the doctor and at this point, he was on holiday…
Clint: For people who are listening, Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Lor: That’s right.
Clint: I don’t know if it’s over the counter around the world but it’s…
Lor: I know in Canada, you can get it. It is called Aleve, I believe.
Clint: Aleve, right, yeah.
Lor: I think so. I think that’s the medical ingredient in it.
Clint: Yeah, so around the world, it’s a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. There’s two things, you could have reacted to the actual ingredients of the drug, or, because you’ve obviously got severe leaky gut and intestinal problems, maybe because it’s so inflammatory to the gut wall, maybe just any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug would have had the same effect because you’re already really highly inflamed.
Lor: That’s right.
Clint: Okay, so after that, what happened next?
Lor: Okay, so I went back to the doctor because I still needed something and now I was in even more pain than I was before, and my doctor was on holiday so I actually was seen by a different physician, and instead of really dealing with the issue or looking into the issue or whatever, it was an easy fix of Tylenol #3s given to me. And here I am, desperate for some relief and not knowing what I know now about leaky gut and the whole gut issue in general, I took the Tylenol #3s and I was happy. I was a very happy girl to have those because finally, I was having some relief. It had been eight months by now. I’m not getting any treatment, I don’t know what’s going on, I’m desperate. So it was January of 2010, so I waited I think three months to see my rheumatologist, and right away, I was put on hydroxychloroquine, Plaquenil, sulfasalazine, methotrexate, and folic acid to counteract whatever the methotrexate was doing to me.
Clint: Okay, so you went on a big triple therapy they call that.
Lor: I love that I can look back on this and laugh.
Clint: Isn’t good?
Lor: It’s not really something to laugh about at all but I’m so glad that I can.
Clint: You’ve got to incorporate humor into everything.
Lor: Yes, absolutely, absolutely.
Clint: Even when I was at my worst, and I mean like couldn’t lift my elbows up to scratch my own nose, right, I was trying to right down raps, like beats and stuff, and so I want to create this rheumatoid rap where I can…We call it “take the piss”, it means “make fun of”.I just want to take the piss out of this whole thing because I feel I need the release. The release of this agony could come in terms of creating humor. Plus it’s my job, you know? For a long time, I’ve been performing.
Lor: Yes, I know, I think that’s wonderful.
Clint: So I have somewhere this rheumatoid rap that I’ve put together. Anyway, I can’t recall it now but it’s down somewhere. One day, I’ll put it together.
Lor: I could probably find a band or two that could sing it out for you.
Clint: That’ll be cool. Yeah.
Lor: That’s good.
Clint: Okay, so you’re on the pain relievers, you’re feeling better, and you finally get onto that triple…
Lor: I’m taking the Tylenol #3s whenever I need them, I guess.
Clint: You’re on the triple therapy, I should say.
Lor: Yep. But mind you, I’m told I’m gonna have to go get my eyes tested every six months, there’s a chance I could go blind, I’m not gonna be able to have children…
Clint: From the methotrexate.
Lor: Methotrexate. Not really told much about what these drugs are or what are the side effects, but I was given a piece of paper for each one and told to go home and read them over and so on and so forth, so yeah, I took the medicine and I took it religiously and I was so sick from the methotrexate, I couldn’t hold my head up some of the days. I was so nauseous, I was puking, I was having irritable bowel issues, ringing in my ears, headaches. Headaches so bad to the point of migraines where I was puking. And I went back because I was going every three months, I went back and I said, “Look, this methotrexate, it’s killing me. I can’t do it.”
Clint: I’m just curious, how did you know that it was the methotrexate? Was it just intuition? Because if you’re taking them all at the same time…
Lor: I knew it was the methotrexate because I was taking 10 milligrams once a week and I would take it on whatever night it was, say I took it on Wednesday night, I would be sick Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, every single week.
Clint: It was definitely the methotrexate.
Lor: So I knew it was the methotrexate because it was a pattern. I was taking it every single week, the exact same day every week, so absolutely I knew that it was the methotrexate and it wasn’t deniable either. No. Because there’s side effects there that say nausea and vomiting and all of this.
Lor: I don’t understand myself for not looking further into it back then, but I was so desperate for help at this point and I was also very young. I had never really dealt with a lot of medical issues before, and I honestly thought that I would just take some medication for a little while and then it would go away.
Clint: That’s okay.
Lor: So anyway, yeah, soI went back for my three month check up kind of thing. I was going every three months to my rheumatologist which I think is great. I was being monitored really, really well. That aspect of it was wonderful. I was being monitored. But yeah, I was saying, “This methotrexate, it’s destroying me. I can’t do it. I can’t go to work, I’m calling in sick all the time.” Or sorry, actually, no, I was in college at the time when I was diagnosed, I was in college, so I was staying home sick from college quite a bit and I was going to school to be a personal support worker to look after elderly people in a nursing home setting. I was going through cooperation studies where I was looking after these people and my body was just falling apart looking after…
So anyways, I told the doctor…Sorry, I was getting off track there…About the methotrexate and she suggested that instead of taking the tablet, I should just take the injectable. So she switched me over. Nothing changed. I was still sick. In fact, it was hitting me harder quicker because it was going right into my blood stream. And so I always complained about the methotrexate, but I was always told just to give it a little but more time. Fingers crossed, just to give it a little bit more time.
Clint: Is anyone talking about diet at this point? Anybody?
Lor: No, no, nobody, nobody.
Clint: It’s nuts. I mean, the world is lost.
Lor: It makes me so angry. And, just to touch on that too, at this point, I was still eating the most terrible foods. I had no clue about nutrition. God bless my parents, they’re the most wonderful people in the world but…I shouldn’t say “but” after that. They did the best they could and the best that was available or socially the norm was processed, high fat, and sugar and salty foods and it was all in a box, you know? Nothing was fresh. That’s just how it was when I grew up. That was the normal.
Clint: It is normal. It is normal for westerners.
Lor: It’s still normal today, it’s still normal today.
Clint: It is. And it’s actually becoming more and more normal in countries that used to eat much more closely to nature. The Asian countries now, it’s all transitioning. And the African countries. Everyone wants to be like westerners because westerners are put on a pedestal, they have lots of money, they have lots of TV to watch, people want to be like that, but unfortunately, with that comes the horrid eating patterns.
Lor: You pay a price. That’s right, you pay a huge price and if I can say anything to anybody, it’s listen to your body because it’s trying to tell you something and these pharmaceutical drugs, they’re not going to help you. I mean, in emergency situations, there are some medications that are really needed out there. You break your arm and you need to go to the hospital and absolutely there’s measures that need to be taken, but I think it’s so important to get this message out there that we can heal our bodies by changing our lifestyle and what we put into our mouths. It takes a lot of work and I mean, I’ve fallen off the wagon several times. I’ll be the first to admit that. But I know what I’ve done wrong every time now and I can pick myself back up and move forward. But it makes me so angry, the food industry and how it works, and I could talk for days and days. My husband, I drive him nuts, I think, talking about it all day and every day. So he’s a pretty good sport. He’s actually gone vegetarian so…
Clint: Good for him.
Lor: …In this whole thing.
Clint: I mean, literally, good for him.
Lor: Yeah, it’s a huge step. So, yeah.
Clint: Okay, so how did you start to move away from the need for medications? Because no doctor’s just gonna let you just come off them because it’s not what they do. You need to be able to demonstrate consecutive months of very low symptoms, very low blood inflammation levels. Did you demonstrate that to your doctor to get off these drugs?
Lor: Basically, when I was about 24 years old, I discovered veganism through a book and it was a book written by a woman who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer, and she had now surpassed this time that she was given by her doctor, and there was a testimonial in there by a woman who had rheumatoid arthritis and followed this woman’s plan and was able to get off of some of her medications, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, if someone else can do it, then why can’t I try? Why shouldn’t I try?” So I did this 21-day vegan transformation and I felt amazing and I actually went about a year doing really, really well, and I was able to get off of my hydroxychloroquine with the support of my rheumatologist, which was awesome. It took a little bit but she did agree and I went off the hydroxychloroquine.
But I made a mistake that I think many people make when they go transition to this lifestyle and I wasn’t eating enough calories. I wasn’t giving my body the energy that it needed, and so I’d be going to work and I’d be stopping at the vending machine to get a chocolate bar or a bag of chips because I couldn’t make it through my shift. I wasn’t satiated. I didn’t have the energy to keep going and so I fell off that track. But yeah, I was able to get off the hydroxychloroquine for a while and then I kind of went into a remission state for about six months, I’d say, on a vegan diet. And I was hardcore vegan diet. I wouldn’t eat anything, not even something that had a touch of honey in it. I was very specific about what I was eating and I lost a lot of weight, which was awesome because I had put so much weight on, and my joints were feeling amazing, everything was great, and then I started eating terribly again because I just wasn’t satiated.
So I went back to my rheumatologist…Well, I was always going, every three months or whatever, and within this time, I was getting lots of cortisone injections into my wrists and into my feet, and I don’t know the whole timeline for those but that is something that happened quite frequently. There was actually a time that I was getting a cortisone injection every single time that I went to my doctor. So I also think that with my wrists, that plays a huge factor in some of the damage that may have occurred.
Clint: A comment on that for everyone is my rheumatologist said that the shots directly into the joints has been shown to weaken the joints so it causes a negative effect, and therefore, in Australia, the guidelines are that you’re not allowed to have any one independent joint done more than four times a year.
Lor: That’s right. Yep.
Clint: That is the absolute maximum because, beyond that, there is evidence that shows that it weakens the integrity of the joint. Now, that might mean cartilage loss or softening of the bones with regards to mineral depletion. I’m not sure of the specifics because I didn’t research it because I didn’t have many of those injections, but yeah, guidelines around the world it would seem four times a year maximum. Now, of course, after that, the evidence shows that it deteriorates the joint, then obviously there is a weakening that happens with every injection, and it only becomes detectable significantly after four goes a year, so you’re definitely going to have suffered a little or a lot from that as well.
Lor: So yeah, I kind of fell out of remission and I went back to the rheumatologist and at that point, I was off the Plaquenil at this point, and so she wanted me to start on some new medication. So I was still on the sulfasalazine, still on the methotrexate and the folic acid, but she also introduced to me leflunomide and the biologic Cimzia.
Clint: God, not mucking around.
Lor: So I took the Cimzia for one year and I had nothing but issues with that. I was getting lumps and broken sores in my mouth, and I was also having my menstrual cycle for a month at a time…
Clint: Oh. wow.
Lor: …and it was awful. And so I said, “I’m off of this.” I had to stop taking it. I couldn’t continue on that anymore.
Clint: That was the Cimzia.
Lor: That was the Cimzia, the biologic. Not to mention it was just this awful huge needle that is supposed to be specifically designed for people with rheumatoid arthritis and it’s just this huge thing. You gotta have five hands just to inject it into you, honestly. It’s ridiculous. I don’t like giving myself injections, although I can do it so easily now but after doing it for so long, you get used to it but just…I don’t like it at all. So anyways, yeah, she put me back on that but then I wanted off the Cimzia so I had a really bad flare on…I was 26 years old, it was actually Christmas day, I had a really, really bad flare, and I ended up going to the emergency, it was 3:00 a.m. in the morning, I needed something. I was in so much pain. At this time, I was off the Cimzia, I was on methotrexate, but I’ll be honest, a lot of the times, I didn’t even take it because of the way it made me feel, and so they put me back on prednisone. And I don’t know what I was thinking, I don’t know what had overcome me to make this decision, they got in my head somehow that this was gonna make it all better, and they also gave me Depo-Medrol, which is like an intramuscular injection, like a pain…
Clint: You’re just like a pin cushion at this point.
Lor: Yeah, it’s been awful. That happened in December and then in 2014 February, I go back to my rheumatologist, and at this point, she tells me that I have a really high count of B-cells in my blood and to overcome these B-cells, it would be recommended that I go on a different biologic called rituximab.
Clint: Yes, I’ve heard of it. I don’t know too many people on that. Yep.
Lor: It’s very uncommon for people with rheumatoid arthritis to be on rituximab, but because I had such a high count of B-cells, she thought that it would be a very good match for me. And to be honest, it was. It actually did give me some relief. It actually did lower my inflammation but I still didn’t like the fact that I was on all of these medications. I was also put on Celebrex around that same time that I got off the Cimzia for pain and inflammation, and it was then, it was after that, maybe six months to a year after that that I really started noticing all of my stomach issues come into play. I had also been on hydromorphine tablets and a type of Percocet for pain throughout this time, so I’ve just been given many different little remedies.
Clint: Remedies, yeah. That’s hilarious.
Lor: I was also on a medication, like an anti-depressant, for all of these years right back to the first thing of psoriasis because I was so depressed and that was gonna cure it all, that was gonna make everything better.
Clint: Okay. I can’t keep up with all of the drugs and all of the things. Normally, I just make notes as we go just because I want to make some comments at the end about certain things, but I mean, you’ve just taken the cake with regards to all the stuff that you’ve been on in your short life. I mean, this is insane.
Lor: Yeah, and this is why I think it’s so important…I know I might be getting off track and saying too much, but I think it’s so important for people to know this because I’ve had this disease for eight years now and just really within the last two years have I really figured it out and have I really figured out my body and what I need to do to overcome this illness, and I want people to know that even if they were diagnosed when they were 20 and they’re 40 or 50 now, it’s not too late to make a change. You still can. You have the power in your hands and in your kitchen to really heal your body, and I think it’s just so important to say, “Yeah, I’ve been on all of these medications and yeah, they destroyed my gut, but I am making a reversal in this and I am coming back and I’m feeling wonderful.” So I think that it’s encouraging to let people know and yeah, I think that my body was really…
Clint: Encouraging is an understatement.
Lor: Yeah, I think my body has just been so screwed up. But yeah, then I started looking into candida. I thought maybe I had an overgrowth of candida and so I went to my family doctor and I asked him if he could do some tests for me for candida. The physicians here don’t recognize that candida is really an issue, but what he did tell me was that I needed to get off the Celebrex. That Celebrex was really hard on the stomach. So it was the rheumatologist that prescribed me the Celebrex, but it was my family doctor that actually told me, “You know what? It’s not really doing anything for your stomach issues. You might as well get off of it or cut your dose in half if you can.” And so that was when I really started looking into how that is so hard on your gut and your stomach.
Clint: Yep. Which is ironic because Celebrex’s whole angle, their point of difference to the market is that it doesn’t hurt the gut, and yet you show me someone who takes that every day in ten years time and I’ll show you someone in a big…
Lor: That’s right. So it was around that time that I actually found Forks Over Knives…
Lor: …and the China study and the book “Whole” which goes after the China study. I’ve read them all, and I then found your forum on YouTube and on Facebook, and I also was following nutritionfacts.org quite often.
Lor: So I was really throwing myself into this information and really coming to terms that it was my gut and I needed to do something about what I was eating in order to get off these medications fully. But at that time, in Canada, here, medical marijuana is legal and so I was given a medical marijuana card by my doctor so that I could go and get certain medicines to use to help subside my pain because I didn’t want to be taking any of these painkillers anymore but the medicines weren’t working for my pain. And so I knew that I wanted to stop taking these drugs. I knew that I had to stop.
So what I did was last year, on March 5th, I took my last dose of Rituxan. Now, Rituxan stays in your body for six months so I kind of had some coverage, but I have not put any pharmaceutical drug into my body in one year’s time.
Clint: Oh, wow.
Lor: Yeah. So I’ve been following a whole food plant-based diet for two years now. I was vegan before that, but like I mentioned, I did fall off the wagon from time to time and I still have made mistakes from here to there, and I think that it’s important to make mistakes because if we don’t, we won’t learn what’s helping or what’s hindering. And so I’m reading all these books and I’m doing all this research on YouTube and just the internet in general, and I’m thinking, “I’m having this epiphany and it’s just so wonderful.” And I’m thinking, “I can do this. If I can just get over myself here and get over what everyone else is telling me to do and really look within…” It was actually quite a spiritual journey for me as well and this upbringing of self-love and realization that I am worth it and I am enough and after all these years of pain and suffering and such a deep, dark depression, I have the ability and I have the right and I have the respect for myself to do this.
And so I just went for it full force, and it’s been a year now since I’ve been off my medications. I am using a CBD tincture which, it’s completely natural, it’s just how I subside the pain and I don’t even use it every day, just once in a while. My depression has gone down. We’re just getting over winter here in Canada and it’s really cold and I don’t get out much in the wintertime for a lot of exercise or anything, so I’m really looking forward to that in the spring, but I’ve gotten through my very first winter since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis with no medication. To me, I get teary just thinking about this because this is not something that I ever thought was possible, it’s not something I ever thought that I could have for myself. A lot of people close to me, the doctors, they all doubted me.
Oh right, that was a question that you asked. When I first went vegan, I actually asked my rheumatologist, “What do you think if I go vegan and cut out the meat and the dairy from my diet? What do you think if I was to do that?” And I was told that she wished me luck on that journey, but rheumatoid arthritis is something that never goes away, it’s something that I will have the rest of my life, and basically, I wish you luck but it’s not gonna happen. But I think I’m proving her wrong.
Lor: So it’s an amazing feeling.
Clint: It’s incredible.
Lor: I don’t want to be rude or anything because I think she’s a wonderful person and she’s helped me a lot, but I just think that that route is not my route and I don’t ever want to go back to that route.
Clint: That’s right and my rheumatologist as well, I had a funny thought the other day as I was driving my car to the gym, I thought, “You know, I feel like sending him a thank you card or something because he gave me so much room to experiment with what I wanted to do,” possibly more so than anyone else’s rheumatologist that I’ve heard about over the years. Like I explained what I wanted to do and he didn’t mock it. He did not say no. What was curious though, and I haven’t shared this for a long time, is that it was only after I got off the drugs, I got my blood tests normal, and I was pain-free, drug-free, back to maximum energy that he sat in the office with me and he looked at the results and he said…
It’s interesting, actually, because, in one of the wars that happened many years ago, there was Australians caught in a prison camp over in Changi, which is in southeast Asia, and they were basically semi-starved and all they lived off was potatoes and rice, and there was a rheumatologist who actually was at the camp who was hired by the people who had captured them to keep an eye on them, keep them alive because they’re prisoners of war but they don’t want to let them die, right? So at that level…Anyway, the doctor, and it might not have been a rheumatologist, but the doctor observed them and observed that those patients or those men with rheumatoid arthritis, all of their symptoms, every one of them, went away and they were in the camp for years. He watched them all become symptom-free. And my rheumatologist sort of said, “But yeah, I mean, you can’t live off potatoes and rice…” Do you know what I mean?
Lor: But you can.
Clint: But you can, you know? But he didn’t tell me this story, which would have been highly valuable to me before I went through all this because it would have given me some hope. I would have thought, “Well, I’m happy to be a prisoner of war. I’ll lock myself into a cage and just live off potatoes and rice for a long period of time because nothing is as bad as the crap drugs that I’m on and the pain that I’m in. It’s killing me.” Yeah.
Lor: Oh, of course, yes. Oh… The methotrexate, actually, I had my last straw with it…Before I stopped the Rituxan, I had…We’re renovating our house and I had a friend over helping us, and I couldn’t even get up to make him something for lunch because I’m on the couch puking and I’m thinking, “This is ruining my entire life and I’ve spent my entire 20s now dealing with this and I do not want to enter my 30s sick and tired,” you know?
Clint: I started this whole thing when I just turned 31. It all just went…My career as a stand-up comedian was on a great trajectory, I was just appearing on TV, my routine was down, and I was, at 31, feeling young, vibrant, ready to take over, the whole thing was going so well, and then boom. It just, like a tree that was just about to release its fruit, I had myself chopped off at the trunk. And I spent my whole… And ever since, the whole thing, my career, although many of my peers think I’ve done wonderfully well, I thought it would be very different than how it is now. I think that for me personally, I was destined to do something that can reach more people than what I can as a stand-up comic, and as much as I admire that as a skill and as much as you can influence people’s lives telling jokes and giving them a good time and making them laugh, when I look at my inbox every day and I see people’s stories and what they tell me and their thoughts about me, sometimes I cry at my computer each day. Sometimes these things are awful, but now look at you sharing your story, impacting lives, you know?
Lor: Absolutely, and I think to myself often, “If I wasn’t diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 21 or 22 years old, I don’t know where I would be today. I could have diabetes, I could be suffering with heart issues. I was eating terribly. If this disease has done anything for me, it has opened my eyes, and I’m the type of person that likes to see the light in any dark situation the best you can, and I truly feel like I have to be positive in this and just think that if it’s given me anything, it’s given me the opportunity to really look within myself, find out what makes me healthy, and I don’t think I’d be on this health journey if it wasn’t for that diagnosis.
So no, I didn’t want to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis but it has brought me to this point. And so, yeah, I feel like I’ve inspired some other people in my life as well and that is an amazing feeling, and I couldn’t imagine waking up every day with all these emails. I think what you do is amazing and it’s very inspiring. You’re helping so many people. You are really helping so many people, so it’s great.
Clint: Well, thank you. So are you right now.
Lor: I hope, yeah, I hope so.
Clint: To put into a short phrase that I like to use, and I’ve borrowed this from Anthony Robbins who often has a lot of these little good takeaways, he always says when you’re in a really bad situation, ask yourself, “What’s great about this?” And it just interrupts the whole thought pattern and it works so well under any scenario.
Clint: And there is always something great about this. Now, let’s look at the worst scenario, and I’ve thought this before about funerals, now we’re getting way off-topic…This is turning into more motivational, all right? If you’re at a funeral and someone that you’ve loved has passed, it’s all sadness, right? The whole day is sadness. But let’s experiment. Let’s ask ourselves, “What’s great about this?” What’s great about this is all of these people are here to recognize the amazing contribution that this person had and how they impacted their lives. It enables you to connect with all them, to create a legacy about them…
Lor: That’s right.
Clint: …to uphold a better standard of humanity going forward, we look at their life and what they did and what we can learn, and it gives everyone at that ceremony or at that event a period to become better people and reflect on what they learned from that individual.
Lor: Exactly, yep. I totally agree.
Clint: Look, there’s sadness, it doesn’t mean that it’s overall a good experience, but we can at least find some greatness in the most horrible situations.
Lor: Exactly, definitely, yeah. I totally agree with that for sure.
Clint: So, this has been absolutely wonderful to chat with you. I look forward to staying in touch. Are you on Instagram or on Facebook? What’s your preferred social media so people can follow you?
Lor: If people would like to follow me, I do share my story a little bit and things about how I’ve overcome rheumatoid arthritis on Instagram and that’s EarthtoLor. That’s a T-O, for “to”. That’s where I post all of my vegan stuff so I don’t flood my Facebook friends and family. The world isn’t black and white yet so we have to be respectful, so I try not to post too much on my Facebook but I do from time to time. But if people want to see what I eat, I usually post a few times a week on Instagram what I’m eating, and I like to share a little bit of what’s going on with me at that point too, so if people want to follow me on there, that would be wonderful.
Clint: Yeah, I recommend that and a lot of our listeners are on Facebook. That’s certainly where the bulk of my tribe are, but Instagram’s great because it gives you those instant visuals that Facebook can sometimes…And you get distracted on Facebook. You get all this stuff that gets in your way. On Instagram, you can jump in there, you can find the person that you want to follow.
Lor: That’s right.
Clint: You can look at their photos, get the foods, because I know that the questions in a lot of people’s minds after watching or listening to our conversation is, “I wonder what you eat each morning, what do you do?” But, look, I want to end on a high here and maybe we can have you back to talk about that another time.
Lor: That would be great, yeah.
Clint: Yep. Because for now, I just want to leave everyone with a good feeling knowing that this is possible, you’ve been through the absolute medicine cabinet, and you’ve tried all these things, but when your microbiome is messed up, no matter what drug you throw at it, you’re still going to have problems down the track.
Clint: Because one of the variables as to how the drug actually interacts with your body and the success of the drug is the microbiome, so I think if a healthy person with an outstanding and diverse gut bacteria were to take the same drug as the person next to them who’s got an atrocious microbiome, I think that the drug would work better on the person who’s actually healthier on the inside.
Clint: And so I think it wasn’t until you turned everything on its head by putting the right foods inside you and having a plant-based diet means that you have an extraordinary amount of fiber intake, and bacteria love fiber, it’s that simple. That’s your equation right there, you need that fiber to feed your gut bacteria. And once you’ve made that the bulk of your diet, everything’s turned around.
Lor: Yes, yeah.
Lor: It’s amazing. I feel amazing. Yeah, I really do. I will say, I do have some pain but I think that’s pain from damage, so I think it’s really important for people to know that we might not be able to get 100% pain-free but we can definitely get pretty close.
Clint: Yeah, we can become inflammation free and that is the scary stuff because that causes the joint degradation and that is evidence of disease activity in terms of symptomatic disease activity, and so yes, you said just before we started, just before we hit record that your wrists have been damaged and sometimes they hurt, but so does my knee. Let’s face it, my knee’s an atrocity, and if I try and run on my knee and kick a soccer ball around with my oldest daughter, sometimes I’ve gotta be careful. If I don’t stretch afterwards, it gets a little…I actually just extended it under the table right now and it went “Click, click.” It’s all smashed up.
Lor: Yes, my left wrist, I hear, “Creak, creak, creak” and actually I did have a surgery done on my right wrist, carpal tunnel release and a synovectomy to release some dead tendon build-up that was in there. And I also had a suggestion that in five years, I could have my wrists fused but my wrists are already fused. I don’t really have a lot of mobility in them, range of motion. They don’t really bend back and forth, they’re kind of stuck straight now, but that’s just something that I have to come to terms with and maybe it might get a little bit better, maybe it won’t. But at least I’m not contributing to the ongoing inflammation and the ongoing damage.
Clint: That’s it, that’s it. You’re doing everything within your power to give yourself the best possible outcome.
Lor: Exactly. That’s right.
Clint: And I wanted to ask you, how’s your skin now?
Lor: Yeah, so my skin is great. I don’t have any psoriasis whatsoever on my body. I do from time to time get a little bit of psoriasis in the scalp which is something I’ve been dealing with since I was a child, so maybe that’s gonna take a little bit more time to heal up, but yeah, my skin’s great. I haven’t had any outbreaks since 2011 now.
Lor: So it’s been really, really good. I blame the food for that. Yeah, it’s been great. Yep, definitely, my psoriasis is all cleared up, for sure.
Clint: Fantastic, fantastic. All right, well thank you very much, you’re very inspiring. This has been really enjoyable.
Lor: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.
Clint: Oh, it’s a pleasure. We just did an hour and it went like that.
Lor: It did, yeah. I mean, I could keep on talking. I have so much to tell but yeah, so maybe we can do another one sometime if you want to get talking about the food aspect of what I eat and whatnot. But yeah, this has been really great.
Clint: Yeah, well, that sounds like a good idea. So until we do that, I want everyone to go over to EarthtoLor over on Instagram. I’ll post the link to that in the show notes which will go up on paddisonprogram.com. And I just want to thank you once again because this has been really, enjoyable, inspirational, and educational.
Lor: You’re welcome. Thank you so much.
Clint: Thanks, Lor.
Lor: Thank you so much, Clint.