Cole’s Success Story

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I’m so excited to share this information with you today.   As I begin writing, I can feel my heart beat accelerate.  I’m hoping to make a positive impact on the outcome of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis by sharing our story.  I wish I had this information when my son was first diagnosed.  My husband I were so frightened when we first learned about this disease and how severe it can get.  If I only knew that he would be symptom free in the coming months without taking any serious medications, we could have saved ourselves a lot of heartbreak and stress as a family.  Yes, I’m telling you that we were able to put his disease into remission without taking any DMARDS, biologics, or steroids, which are normally prescribed for this disease.  When I finally figured out what we needed to do, it only took his body 2 months to be 80 percent improved.  The last piece of information didn’t come to me until the last month, otherwise, I believe he would have been 100 percent symptom free in 2 months.

My son was 5 ½ when he was first diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.  He was always a healthy boy, and rarely got sick, and when he did, he would recover very fast.   He’s never taken any medications for any reason.  He never even had a round of antibiotics in his life.   It was the last week of preschool, last June when he caught a stomach flu and had some severe vomiting and diarrhea.  He ran a fever for a couple of days, it wasn’t particularly high, and resolved with ibuprofen.  He was quite weak and lethargic for a few days during this illness.  It took about 4 days for his normal activity level to return.   A few days afterwards, he woke up with a swollen right knee.   We thought it might have been an injury so we iced it for a day and had him elevate his leg.  We took him to the pediatrician the next day and continued seeing the pediatrician for a few weeks to monitor his condition.   The swelling went down a tad, but there was still a considerable amount of swelling in his knee.  A few weeks later, his opposite ankle showed some swelling as well.  Then several weeks later, one of his fingers looked a bit thicker then the others, but we did remember him dropping a heavy rock on his finger that he was trying to carry with a friend.  Maybe it was swelling from trauma, or maybe the trauma caused some arthritis in the joint?  We don’t know to this day whether the thickness in his knuckle was due to trauma or arthritis or both. The good news was he had no pain in any of his joints and after a couple of days, the stiffness in his knee got better, and he was running around like nothing had happened.

We went to see a pediatric orthopedic specialist at the time to take an xray of his knee to rule out any serious damage or tumor.  We also ran blood tests to bring to the pediatric rheumatologist we would see next. They wouldn’t give him a definitive diagnosis because we were there 5 ½ weeks after onset of arthritis and the definition states that swelling must occur for 6 weeks post onset.  But it was obvious that unless a small miracle occurred in the next week, he would be diagnosed with JIA.  The rheumatologist ordered a few blood tests, but short of that, they were not interested in any details of why this might have happened.  They also rattled off a long list of medications they have to treat this disease if his symptoms did not resolve.   What I kept hearing from various rheumatologists was that it was a disease that could be managed, but there was little hope that this disease would ever go away.   There was a 30 percent chance that he could outgrow the disease by the time he reached adulthood.

If you are a parent with a child with JIA, you know too well what it feels like to hear this information.   It is terrifying to come to the realization that your child will not be living a normal life and either will your entire family.  Managing a child’s disease is overwhelming on the family, physically and emotionally.

My first inclination was to learn more about the disease and try to find out what could have caused it.  I enlisted several alternative healthcare practitioners and a wonderful holistic pediatrician.  I wanted to learn about alternative ways to treat inflammation in hopes I could heal him naturally without the use of potentially harmful medications.    I was working closely with a holistic pediatrician running stool analysis, blood testing, food testing, etc… looking to see if we could find some answers that could help us treat his symptoms.

It made perfect sense to me that we had to find the cause of his problem in order to heal his body which would then take away his inflammation.  If I started medications, it might resolve his symptoms temporarily, but it would be masking the problem, and I would be farther away from healing him.    I remember asking a rheumatologist, have you seen any children’s symptoms resolve and never return from using steroid injections?  Her response was, in the years that I have been treating children, there was one patient that never returned after receiving a steroid injection in the knee.   I’m assuming that meant that he was cured and that he didn’t find follow-up care somewhere else.  I thought, Wow, only one patient didn’t have to return for more medical treatment.   Steroid injections in his two joints was the recommendation for my son.  If the inflammation returned, he would then be put on methotrexate.   I remember the doctor saying that the ankle was difficult to treat successfully with injections because there are so many joints involved.   So, even if the knee resolved with the steroid, it was unlikely that the ankle would, and he would have to go on methotrexate regardless.

My big question was always, how much time do we have until damage to his joints would arise?  I needed to know how much time I had to eradicate his inflammation. The rheumatologist was concerned that because he was such a young boy, growing so fast, his leg with the swelling could grow longer then the other.

We were under a tremendous amount of stress and worry for our son’s health.   The only good news was that he didn’t have any pain and was able to do all the things a little boy desired.  I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if he were to complain of pain on a daily basis or not be able to jump and play.  Therefore, I wasn’t pressured into starting any medications, but with that said, the rheumatologists advised that I start him on naproxen regardless, in order to see if it would improve his swelling.   We tried the naproxen for several weeks without much improvement.  I would have assumed they would have told us to stop giving it to him since it wasn’t working, but the rheumatologists recommendation was to continue on the naproxen indefinitely.   The reason one doctor stated was that it might prevent future swelling in other joints.

We considered the information, but decided as a family to stop giving him naproxen.  I was concerned, (even though I was giving him a natural supplement to protect the gut beforehand), that it would prevent my son from healing if taken long term.  It didn’t make sense to me to give him an NSAID which can cause damage in his gut, if it wasn’t working.

Since I’m a big believer in diet having great healing potential, I started changing my son’s diet a couple of weeks after onset.  I wanted to eliminate any foods that could be contributing to his inflammation.  First, I had removed gluten, dairy, and sugar, but didn’t see any progress after several weeks.  I then put him on a paleo diet for several weeks and when there was no improvement, eliminated nightshade vegetables too.  I had him eating a special way for 2 ½ months, but never noticed any progress in his inflammation or his blood results, in fact his Sed rate had increased.

I remember so well the night I decided to make another change.  Little did I know at the time, it was the best decision we would ever make.  I was feeling stressed and exhausted and I knew I had to make a decision to go in another direction since everything we had tried with diet and supplements were not working.   We were also making sure our son was getting plenty of daily exercise.  Exercise is key in overcoming joint swelling.  He was playing on the soccer team, swimming several times per week, and I started doing yoga with him at home.  That night I was investigating other drugs that are used for autoimmune diseases that didn’t have the potentially dangerous side effects that are typically used for JIA.   It felt so uncomfortable to be reading about this information, that I found myself searching for answers once again in the natural world.

This is when I came across the video of a man named Clint Paddison who had cured his RA through diet and exercise.  My heart went out to this man after hearing about his struggles with his condition and all the medications he was once on just to get himself out of bed in the morning.  Clint’s road to recovery through diet was so compelling and made a lot of sense to me.  In his video he spoke about the leaky gut and how proteins that we eat can leak through the gut wall causing our body to view those proteins as foreign invaders and therefore attack those proteins, which can cause inflammation in the joints.

It made me think of my son’s illness which was one of the triggers to his arthritis symptoms.  It made sense that the vomiting and diarrhea symptoms could have reaked havoc on his gut.   Although I still had so many questions about all of this, I thought to myself, it’s worth a try considering it’s a totally different diet then what we were doing.  What if Clint is right about the body attacking proteins leaking through the gut wall.   Cole was eating a lot of animal protein, considering the paleo diet cuts out grains.  I was making him green smoothies every day,  salads and raw veggies for snacks daily, but he was also consuming animal protein with almost every meal.   In addition, the paleo diet promotes eating saturated fats to get more omega-3’s in the diet.  I soon learned that saturated fats can exacerbate RA symptoms.  So perhaps with all this effort, I was making my son’s condition worse, rather than better?

Now for the exciting news I want to share with all of you.   After about 3 weeks on the Paddison diet, my son’s CRP and Sed rate was completely in the normal range.   His inflammation was still there and I was still very worried that the symptoms would not go away. But soon I started to be able to see his knee cap, and within a month, his inflammation went way down.  I would say it improved about 80 percent.  It was now time to go back to the rheumatologist for a routine exam.  I anticipated our doctor to be amazed at our progress through diet alone and thought she would have wanted to know everything we did to improve his condition, but there were so few questions.  I was relieved she didn’t recommend any medications, and was giving us some more time considering he was improving.  I remember her saying, he has to be perfect, otherwise he will need treatment.  She wanted to see us back in another few months for evaluation.

At this point my son’s progress stalled.  I couldn’t understand why he would make such a dramatic improvement all at once, and then stop there.   There had to be something I was still feeding him that was making his body react.   I thought back to the general premise of the diet that allowed the body to heal.  A low protein and low fat diet was healing to the gut.  My son was getting more then what was required for protein through beans and legumes and other foods, so I wasn’t concerned about his intake.   But too much protein and fat causes inflammation so I needed to look closely at his diet again and re-evaluate what he was eating.  I started documenting everything he ate since we started the first diet plan, so this part was easy. I would go back to his food diary and study it.  Nuts are high in protein and fat and my son might have been eating too many nuts since it was one of those easy snacks on the go that he enjoyed.   I decided to eliminate the nuts entirely to see what would happen since that was the only item he was eating that was high in both fat and protein.  In a few weeks, his inflammation was totally gone.   I have to also mention that we started acupuncture a couple of weeks before eliminating the nuts, so that could have aided in his body’s quick response.

I know we were lucky that we had time to make decisions when our son was first diagnosed.   If he was in pain and his mobility was affected, like many kids with onset JIA, we would have been confronted with some more serious decisions from the start.    But for those who have had to start with medications, or put their child on multiple medications, the path to healing is the same.  I learned that Clint was on serious medications when he figured out the diet that would eventually heal him.  He was able to titrate down his medications when his body began to heal and then eventually go off of them.  There are many people that have followed his diet and have had the same results.  I also learned that adults with RA who are on his diet plan can feel pain relief right away and can start to see improved symptoms very quickly.  This can make the diet path easier to navigate.   We had no way of navigating the diet since our son wasn’t in pain and didn’t have any stiffness after a couple of days.  We just followed the diet with faith and trusted that there would be improvement.

We did introduce foods a little quicker then suggested, but we stayed on course and his body healed.  I’ve often thought, there is a possibility that Cole could have healed with just going vegan in general, without the step by step approach of the Paddison diet.  I’m saying that because I realize the Paddison approach may be difficult for some children.  It’s about starting with few foods and building from there based on their tolerance levels.  If I couldn’t get my child to do the exact approach that he suggests, I would not be discouraged.  I would use his list of foods that are considered tolerable and make meals based on this list.

I was surprised that out of all the healthcare providers I went to see for help with my son’s disease, it was this total stranger I found on the internet that had the most answers about how to heal this disease.  But giving it further thought, it makes sense that someone who is suffering every day would be the most motivated to find the answers.  Rheumatologists are there to put out fires if needed and treat symptoms through medical means.  For some, this might be needed initially in order to regain comfort and mobility.  But the risks involved with these long term medications are too great, especially for a young child.  I’ve learned that if you want true healing of your immune system, you have to start by healing the gut, and that can’t happen if the foods that are eaten irritate the body.

I’m just so grateful that I found the Paddison diet for my son.  I feel very encouraged moving forward that he will have a normal childhood and I do believe his diet will continue to expand.  We’ve already made some additions to his diet since his inflammation has gone and he has continued to do well.

When I had questions along the way, I’d ask the forum.  Clint has an online support group you can join which I found very helpful.   There are many knowledgeable people on the forum that are there to help answer your questions and share their experiences.   I was pleasantly surprised that Clint always found time to comment on my questions as well.

I’d like to mention, that I am not being compensated in any way by the Paddison Program.  I wanted to share my son’s success story in order for others to learn that there is a path to healing this dreadful disease.  I want others to know they do have options outside of the medical approach.  I want others to have all the resources I did to help my son.  Clint is an amazing person to have had the dedication and perseverance to overcome his condition.  He was an inspiration for us and I hope he can be for all of you as well.

One last thing I’d like to leave you with…  If you come across skepticism in your journey, and you will, have faith and stay the course.  It has crossed our path many times.  Even some of the natural healers I was working with thought RA was too severe of a disease to be beat through diet.  We are led to believe that it’s something in the genes that has been altered so therefore there is no way back.

I have to say, that a part of me understands the skepticism.  I too am surprised that if it’s this simple, why don’t more people know about diet as a successful treatment?  I think the obvious answer is because the medical system sends all patients with these symptoms to Rheumatologists, and unfortunately healing the gut and understanding diet, is not in their scope of practice.

When you improve or eradicate your symptoms through the Paddison diet, please share your story with your doctors so that they become informed and can help others truly heal.  Thank you for taking the time to read our story!