Testimonial written by Ila Crocker:
I am writing to tell you how life-changing your Paleo philosophy has been for me. I am a 44-year-old woman from Colorado with a long history of auto-immune disease and inflammatory pain. Your book, The Paleo Solution, has completely changed my life.
At the age of 2, I was diagnosed with psoriasis, which runs on my father’s side of the family. Through my childhood, I controlled the skin lesions with topical steroids. Not once through my childhood or early adult life did any doctor explain to me that I had an auto-immune disease. I simply thought it was a skin condition.
Looking back now, I can see how and when my inflammation began to affect and control my life. All through school, I participated in sports, including gymnastics, cheerleading, track, and long-distance running. My first occurrence of inflammatory pain occurred when I was running cross-country as a junior in high school. I began to have severe hip pain and was diagnosed with bursitis. This was my first cortisone shot and the beginning of my love affair with prescription Motrin.
While in college, I worked full-time and went to school full-time. I did not play sports, but continued to run for exercise. By this time, my lower back pain had become so severe I was taking 1,600 mg of Motrin per day. Still, not a single doctor mentioned to me that my joint pain was related to my auto-immune disease.
At the age of 21, I ended up in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer from the Motrin. I had lost so much blood I was required to stay for 4 days to have several blood transfusions. During the upper endoscopy procedure to cauterize the ulcer, the gastroenterologist discovered a constriction in my esophagus, which he diagnosed as a Schatzki ring. That condition became so severe over time that I was having scopes to stretch my esophagus every six months to a year. In later years, through a biopsy of the tissue, the diagnosis was changed to eosinophilic esophagitis, which has been treated with a steroid spray that I swallow daily.
In my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. In my early 30’s, I added high blood pressure to that list, despite the fact that I remained very active. In fact, my husband and I have been partial to the P90X workout for many years. I eventually began having chronic tendinitis and joint pain that was treated with cortisone shots. I resisted the auto-immune suppressing medications for many years, because I worked in healthcare and knew how bad the side effects were. Finally, in my mid-30’s, I relented and began taking Methotrexate. My hair routinely falls out and I have painful sores in my mouth. In addition, I have continued to take other prescription anti-inflammatories, such as Vioxx, Bextra and Celebrex. In my late 30’s, my medication list rivaled those of my 60- and 70-year-old patients.
In September 2009, I had my first foot surgery, due to chronic inflammation and calcification of the big toe joint. The orthopedic surgeon performed a cheilectomy on my right foot. At this point, the pain in my feet became so severe, that my exercise regimen became non-existent, and I began to gain weight. I could no longer run, snow ski, water ski, wakeboard, or hike – all of the things I loved to do.
In September and December 2012, I had arthrodesis performed on each foot. This is a procedure to fuse the big toe joint of the foot. My foot pain had become so severe, I could barely walk. There was simply no cartilage left in those joints. By this time, I was taking the Methotrexate, two blood pressure medications, another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, Prilosec, and the steroid spray for my esophagus. My hands were so swollen I could no longer wear most of my rings. My feet continued to hurt for months after my foot surgeries and I wondered if I would ever again have the full use of my feet. To top off everything, I was now 30 pounds overweight.
In September 2013, my inflammatory pain soared through the ceiling. I had such a bad flare up that it required two Kenelog steroid injections within six weeks and my Methotrexate was increased to the maximum dosage. One day at work, I was tearfully telling a co-worker that I was considering applying for disability, because my pain was keeping me awake every night and I simply could not function during the day without sleep. I was taking a lot of sick time at work to deal with my pain and insomnia and I was not keeping up with my workload. A couple of days later, that friend and co-worker, Michelle, stepped up to my desk and handed me your book. She knew I might be resistant to the discipline required to eat a Paleo diet, but told me I had nothing to lose by trying it for a month. I was desperate enough to try anything and began devouring your book.
Within a week of eating a Paleo diet, I felt significantly better. My joint pain was gone, even in my feet! All of those months that I thought I was having prolonged post-operative pain in my feet was really just my inflammation. I could suddenly wear those rings I had not been able to wear for a couple of years. Within five weeks, I had a health check at work that involved weight and measurements. I had dropped six pounds, 5% body fat and 18 total inches all over my body since my previous measurements a few weeks prior. I could not believe it. This was ONLY from the diet change; I had not even yet begun to exercise again.
Since then, my inflammation has totally disappeared. I can now exercise without pain and have continued to lose weight and inches. In fact, my husband and I have resumed the P90X workout. I have slept better since changing my diet than I have since I was a small child. I have not yet had the recommended extended blood work listed in your book, but continue to work to convince my rheumatologist of the changes I have experienced.
I had another co-worker, Lisa, bring me the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook by Julie and Charles Mayfield. I have since acquired my own and actually won a soup contest at church with the Chicken Tomatillo Soup recipe. My family is enjoying the great food and I am enjoying a pain-free life for the first time in almost 30 years. I am forever grateful for your research and my friend, Michelle, for introducing me to your book. I pray God blesses you immensely!
What a great story for me to read first thing this morning as I sit here stiff and sore and exhausted from my own autoimmune arthritic pain. It’s given me the push to go paleo! What do I have to lose? To do list for today is to buy Robb’s book and plan my attack! Perhaps I’ll write my own story soon?!?!?! Thank you so much for your inspirational story Ila, I wish you all the best for the future xx
Ila Crocker says
Hi, Katie! I have always been pretty skeptical of any claims that certain foods can cause various health problems. I come from a healthcare background and have always trusted that doctors and medicine are the trusted route to improved health. Had I not been in so much pain, I may not have ever tried the Paleo diet. I have been so amazed at the results, I tell anyone who will listen. I no longer have to swallow the steroid for my esophagus and have not taken my Methotrexate for a few weeks now. I remain pain free and feel great. Thank you so much for your response and encouragement. I hope your experience is similar! Ila
Mike Karmire says
Great story! I have no issues myself due to the Paleo way of eating, but I still love to hear stories like yours. It’s very motivational and you should post it at work so that all of your co-workers can hopefully benefit.
Ila Crocker says
Hi, Mike! Thank you for your encouragement. My friend, Michelle, who has a background in personal fitness and nutrition, has been preaching this lifestyle for a long time. Between the two of us, everyone we know at work has heard about my success. I am now her poster child at work and beyond! 🙂 Ila
I’m in tears, i cant believe you have suffered for so long, you truly are an inspiration. God Bless you Ila
Steve Reed says
Fantastic story, great to hear about get another person ridding themselves of pain and suffering through dietary change.
It makes you wonder the effect it would have on the healthcare systems worldwide if a pale based diet was the first line prescription for all these type of ailments, it would save a fortune, and provide a better life for the patient.
Congrats on the remission? hop it all continue to improve
Steve Cohen says
Congrats on your success with the paleo lifestyle making such a difference with your health. This is amazing news to hear, Ila.
I am curious if you have been following autoimmune protocol strictly? And if so, whose AIP guidance?
Ali Wade says
A fab testimonial. I am 43 next month and live in the UK. When I was 3 I was suddenly struck by a huge flare up of Psoriasis – covered my whole body and actually caused me to not be able to walk for a while. It is in my mum’s family, but nowhere near as severe. This has affected me to very varying degrees for the rest of my life so far – from just a bit on my scalp and dry hands/feet at the moment, to a horrible time in 1990 when I nearly died from a massive flare up which led to Toxic Shock. Not once has anyone called it an auto-immune problem. In the 1990s I started to get IBS very badly, plus severe period pain, and kidney infections. From 2002 I started to get joint/back pain, this gradually got worse until 2005 when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I had to give up work and running. I survived on high doses of ibuprofen. However, as the years passed I was getting a lot more symptoms. My sister who works in the health industry suggested I may have Fibro, which I had never heard of. I looked at a list of symptoms and I had 95% of them. It took until 2010 to get formally diagnosed (along with Hyper-Mobility Syndrome) and has gradually got worse since then. I also developed Hip Bursitis very suddenly, and that has caused me to have to give up horseriding. I was ‘coping’ by pacing myself, trying to stay positive, putting in a hot tub and taking a large number of codeine tablets. My IBS was more troublesome again – and last February I discovered the Food Combining Diet, which literally instantly got rid of most of my IBS. However, the other symptoms (and occasional IBS flares when I was not strict with my diet) continue to bother me – and it is a struggle most days to cope. I had thought of trying gluten-free, as so many friends with Fibro recommended that, but do not like the gluten-free alternatives a lot of the time. I cannot remember when I first saw Paleo mentioned, but it made sense to me and now I am trying to work it into my daily life as much as possible. If it was just me, then I would clear out my fridge/freezer/pantry and donate to the local food bank, but hubby would throw a fit!! So slowly over the coming weeks, I will be making an effort to keep to it, whilst also taking into account Food Combining and my personal food issues (I cannot tolerate raw apples, cabbage, much onion, cauliflower and others). My dentist has also asked me to avoid fruit and fruit juices as much as possible, as that was damaging my teeth. Life is certainly not simple! Ali from Pembrokeshire, UK
Becky Paine says
Just wondered how you were getting on with your new approach? I also live in the UK and have been diagnosed with various conditions over the years (eczema, IBS, migraines, ME), and the Dr’s have only ever thrown meds at me. I started the autoimmune paleo approach 3 weeks ago and already my migraines have ceased and I am sleeping better. I still have a lot of symptoms to resolve, but hey, I’ve been unwell for over 10 years so I guess I’m not going to be 100% overnight! I really hope you find improvements. If you want any support just message me.
All the best,
i read that you were diagnosed with Hypermobility syndrome. I am recovering from some severe injuries using a technique called ‘feldenkrais’. it is supposed to be very good for helping people with HMS. There are plenty of practicioners in the UK. its very popular there.
I haven’t heard about Paleo Comfort Foods but it’s nice to see you’re having such a great time with that. Right now, I have swelling and piercing pains in the left knee joint, is it possible that I’m suffering from arthritic pain?
Tierney O'Connor says
This is amazing! I have a similar health story as well, I finally realized I was lactose intolerant!! I had always had suspicions, but after a month of pale and no diary, I feel 10000000x better! I’m glad that we both found some help for our medical problems 🙂
So what I’m wondering is why do some people have these autoimmune issues at all? I’m vegetarian and do not eat paleo, but I also don’t have any health problems from it, never have. There are a large majority of people who do not have to eat Paleo to be healthy and pain free. Perhaps some people’s systems have evolved past the stone age, and some gene pools haven’t.
I would guess there are lots of factors involved: genetics, gut microbiome, sleep, diet, many other environmental factors, etc.
yes i think different diets work for different people and at different times in their life. I suppose eventually when the medical community start doing trials on food and various dietary lifestyles we may start to understand things further and be able to understand why certain diets suit certain people better. Until then its great to see people taking their health into their own hands and healing themselves of profoundly debilitating illnesses. I’m sure you agree.
Your story is so encouraging! And I’m so sorry for all your sufferings. I went from super healthy to having swollen hands, feet, ankles since 2015 making walking, typing hard. I’m 47 and researching ways to reduce them have brought me here. I will get my blood work results this week but would prefer changing my diet to drugs anyday.