Eight years ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. And an underlying secondary autoimmune dysfunction that attacks mixed connective tissues—muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin. I needed a specialist for my baseline healthcare, but I felt I needed more to keep this rather frightening diagnosis bundle from redefining my life in ways I wasn’t in a hurry to explore.
Ideally I hoped to piece together a plan of actions to help me get an advantage over this dreary reality without heavy medications that then often have the reputation of bringing other parts of us into the bundle . . . stomach reactions, headache reactions, energy reactions. Could I find a path that empowered my health and empowered me emotionally, without creating additional issues?
I have a phenomenal rheumatologist—top-tier medically and true compassion for his patients. He listened and agreed to give me certain leeway in my treatment, with the understanding that he would be straightforward with me if he saw things were deteriorating.
I have an extremely finessed acupuncturist who treats me every other week . . . for the last 8 years.
And I have Arlene and her unparalleled mastery of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and a healing approach to everything . . . with no detail or obstacle being too small to address. I cannot adequately put into words Arlene’s impact on my health, my life, my outlook on my future. My original goal was to be able to regain enough range of motion so I could unload my dishwasher without it being an exercise in serious pain. Was that a lot to ask? Many days it seemed absolutely insurmountable.
Through her weekly classes, I learned and practiced. Everything seemed foreign. Until one day it felt like home . . . familiar, comforting, and happy. I stopped worrying so much and really got into this new way of gently challenging and coaxing my body to work better without pain. She gave me exercises to do with my fingers in the car at red lights . . . how simple and yet profound!
My range of motion began to return, my full dishwasher was no longer a threat, and then actions and abilities I hadn’t even contemplated conquering were suddenly well with reach. Arlene always emphasizes being aware of your physical realities without judgment. A limitation today may become a hazy memory in the not-so-distant future.
The combination of my Tai Chi practice under Arlene and my regular acupuncture have put me in a place where the only medication I need to get my unhealthy bundle to back off a bit is a 25% dose of the mildest option on the market. I am vigilant regarding my appointments with my rheumatologist, who continues to be a thoroughly supportive guide in my health world. I am better in every way than when I was diagnosed . . . and what’s very exciting is the objective medical tests verify my improvement . . . it registers in my x-rays, my CT scans, and my pulmonary-function tests.
And I am better without needing to sacrifice any aspect of my health to a harsh treatment. The door to Arlene’s teaching world begins a journey that is nothing but good on too many levels to count.