AIP Stories of Recovery: Jennifer’s Recovery From Mixed Connective Tissue Disease

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AIP Stories of Recovery is a success story series about regular people from the Autoimmune Protocol community who are changing their lives using the protocol. Each month a new person is featured and readers have the opportunity to discover all the different health challenges that are being overcome by folks just like themselves on the same path. At Autoimmune Paleo we hope you’ll be inspired by, empathize with, and learn from these stories. If you are interested in sharing your story, please let us know by filling out our interest form.

Before Jennifer was diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease, her symptoms had gotten so severe that she could hardly open a bottle of water. Though the diagnosis was a relief, it meant that she had to drop out of the police academy due to the physical strain. Conventional medicine worked well for Jennifer in the beginning, but when her symptoms returned and her doctors wanted to increase her dosage, she knew there had to be a better way. Today, she is nearly symptom-free and off all medication thanks to the AIP. 

What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?

Ten years ago I was diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease. My symptoms began in high school but no one could figure out what was wrong with me. At 21 years old, my symptoms got a lot worse — I was unable to open a bottle of water, could not squeeze a shampoo bottle, some nights my husband would even have to carry me up the stairs because I would get so out of breath. At that point, my primary care doctor did an ANA test which came back positive and I was sent to a rheumatologist. It took about a year to get a definitive diagnosis and I was placed on Methotrexate and Plaquenil.

Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.

The lowest point in my health journey was having to drop out of the police academy because I just could not continue health wise. I couldn’t run the mile and a half that was required and I could barely pull the trigger on a firearm because my joints hurt so bad.

What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?

About three years ago my pain started getting worse and I had to up my dose of Methotrexate. Then about a year ago my pain started getting worse again and I knew I would have to up the Methotrexate again so I began to look for alternative medications.

When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?

I found the Autoimmune Protocol and thought I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot. I cut out dairy, gluten, and processed sugar and went on to cut out nightshades, tree nuts, eggs, etc. I was able to reintroduce most things but I do try to limit my nightshades. After being gluten-, dairy- and processed sugar-free for about six months, my intense shoulder pain which I’ve had for the past year was completely gone! With my doctors permission, I began to taper off of Methotrexate and now I have been completely off of it for about four months with no pain!

What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?

The Wahls Protocol, The Autoimmune Fix, various AIP and Paleo cookbooks, and Facebook groups for support.

Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?

No, ten years ago when I was put on Methotrexate there wasn’t really anything available about changing your diet to heal autoimmune disease so I went along with it. It wasn’t until I knew I would have to up my dose that I began looking for other options.

It can seem like our lives are consumed by a chronic illness, but there is so much beyond those struggles. What brings you true joy right now?

I absolutely love to travel and visit new and exciting places. It’s a little different now that I follow a strict diet, I have to call ahead to the resort or cruise line that I will be staying at to make sure they can accommodate me but so far, I haven’t had a problem and everywhere has been very accommodating!

If you would like to learn more about Jennifer’s health journey, you can check out her blog, Paleo Passporter. You can also find her on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

Would you like to share your Story of Recovery? Let us know by filling out our interest form.

About Grace Heerman

Grace Heerman is a writer, content coach and yoga teacher from Seattle. Grace designs websites and creates content that capture how great her clients are so they can effectively and authentically share their expertise with the world. Here at Autoimmune Wellness, Grace writes book reviews, manages blog content, and organizes social media publishing. She splits her time between living in Seattle with her friends, Minnesota with her family, and Asia, where she likes to spend the winter months. You can find out where she is now on Instagram and learn more about how she balances work and travel on her website, Said with Grace.

1 comment

  • Cindy says

    Awesome story! How did you navigate Disney world?

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