So in July 2008 my middle daughter Emelia (Eme) was 2 1/2 years old and was jumping on the couch and fell off and bumped her knee. I didn’t think anything of it, kids fall down all the time, right? Well within a couple days it swelled up into the size of a grapefruit and no one knew what was wrong with her. She couldn’t move her leg and was in horrible pain. After a week with no one (doctors) in NC knowing what was wrong with her, we drove to Boston’s Children’s Hospital in MA. What should have been an easy 12 hour car drive turned into a horrible painful 22 hour car ride. Emelia’s leg was frozen at a 45 degree angle and every time she fell asleep she would wake up screaming and crying. We finally made it to the Hospital and after a 21 hour visit; being bounced around from doctor’s office to doctor’s office’ they came in and said it can be 1 of 2 things: Lyme Disease, which they said they were hoping for because it’s curable, or Arthritis. They ran some tests and came back saying Emelia had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. My husband and I were so confused, we thought only older people had Arthritis. They gave her some meds that were supposed to help until we got back to NC the following week and they scheduled her an appt with a Rheumatologist at Duke University Children’s Hospital in NC.
A couple days later Emelia couldn’t walk she was now crippled and it was her 3rd Birthday. She was miserable, in so much pain, and had to be carried everywhere. We were thankful the meds helped with some of the pain during the drive back to NC. We got used to driving 3 hours once a month to see the doctor at Duke. They tried so many different meds and the steroid knee injections she had only lasted 2 months instead of the 6 months that they were supposed to. Then in Jan 2009 they came to us and said they wanted to try her on some meds that were pretty harsh asking if we were willing to jump at this full force or continue taking it slowly. I looked at Emelia who was now in a leg splint from her hip to her ankle and then looked at my husband and said we are willing to take this on full force. They put Emelia on Methotrexate (a drug given to cancer patients) and Enbrel (arthritis med.). Both had to be given by injection once a week in the back of the arm. This was the hardest thing to do as a parent, never mind its effects on a 3yr old. Along with the 2 injections, once a week, she was also taking a Folic Acid Pill, Zofran for nausea, and Zantac Syrup for belly pain. Eme got her blood drawn every 4 weeks to make sure her internal organs weren’t failing due to the strong meds.
In Feb 2009 we moved to Brandon FL – my husband is in the Marine Corps and was stationed at Macdill AFB. Emelia began getting treatment at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg . By April 2009 the arthritis had spread throughout her body. It had now taken over 11+ joints and her left eye. This now meant biweekly trips to the eye doctor and putting drops in her eyes every hour she was awake. This went on for over 2 years.
When Emelia started Kindergarten in Aug 2010 the school nurse was going to her classroom every hour to give her eye drops. In the mean time (over a year), my aunt Rachelle had been telling me to put Emelia on a Paleo Diet and to add Juice Plus+ to her diet because because both had been proven to help/cure arthritis. I said no because the meds were working she could walk, run, and was happy even though she always felt sick and had horrible belly pain. I also thought Juice Plus+ and the Paleo Diet would end up being too expensive or hard to do, so I kept brushing my aunt off. Nov 2010 the vision in Emelia’s left eye was nearly gone. Her steroid eye drops were already at max dose as were the Methorexate and Enbrel. Nothing was helping. Emelia started losing her hair- a side effect from the Methotrexate. That was when I sat down with her doctors and asked how long my daughter would live if she continued on all the meds weighing only 40 lbs at age 5. The doctors said she may make it to 25 years old, and told us that she would likely need organ transplants before then. That’s when I started researching Juice Plus+ and the Paleo Diet. I talked to my aunt she was already Paleo and had been for over a year and she loved it. The owner of my aunt’s gym’s mother had severe RA also. She had reached the point where she couldn’t move. She switched to a Paleo diet and is now perfectly fine.
I thought about all of this really hard. Seeing that it worked for others led me to think it couldn’t hurt to try. In Dec 2010 I put my whole family on the Paleo Diet (Caveman Diet), Juice Plus+, and Fish Oil. By February I had taken Emelia OFF ALL MEDS. I am one happy mommy when I say it has now been 20 weeks since she has had any meds and the doctors can’t find any arthritis in her body! She is my walking Miracle!
Jan 2009 – Feb 2011
- Prednisolone Steroid Eye Drops (Every Hour While Awake)
- Folic Acid 1mg Tablet (Daily)
- Zofran 4mg 1/2 Tablet (Daily)
- Zantac Syrup 15ml 1/2 tsp (Daily)
- Methotrexate 0.5ml Injection (Weekly)
- Enbrel 0.5ml Injection (Weekly)
- Blood Drawn Every 4 Weeks
- Paleo Diet (Daily)
- Juice Plus+ 2 Garden Gummies (Daily)
- Juice Plus+ 2 Orchard Gummies (Daily)
- 900mg Fish Oil (Daily)