My Story 1: Broken, Swollen Joints

Why do my Joints Hurt so Much?
For the last 10 years of my life, I have had chronic, debilitating joint problems. Among them were some of these symptoms:
  • wrists completely giving out
  • tendinitis
  • arthritis symptoms
  • joint swelling
  • joint pain
  • knee pain and swelling to the point of needing crutches
  • ankle pain and ankle swelling, also requiring crutches
  • ankle surgery to clear out injury damage

For the last 10 years of my life, I have visited doctors. Doctors upon doctors upon doctors. I visited everything from family doctors to a knee specialist (orthopedic surgeon) at Swedish hospital.

Once, I had a doctor tell me, “There’s nothing wrong with you,” while my knee was swollen to the size of a Pomelo (a gigantic grapefruit). Ten years of doctors poked and prodded, took MRI’s, CAT scans, X-Rays, and prescribed a number of drugs.

None of the prescriptions worked. Some helped reduce the swelling for a little while. But the joint swelling and joint pain always came back. It wasn’t until 2010, when the damage in my ankle was so bad that I was literally dragging my useless foot behind me did get set on the path to healing. It took three amazing doctors and a lot of dedication to help me get to the starting point of the rest of my life.

Getting the Right Help:

At Stevens Foot & Ankle Clinic, I had the pleasure of working with Erin O’Rourke. Her care led me to a surgery to clean up all the damage in my ankle (which works like a dream now), got me the orthotics I needed to keep my ankles from twisting in, and my knees from following my ankles. She is an amazing doctor to work with, and if you’re having knee or ankle issues, I highly recommend her. Where I impressed with her is her vast knowledge within her specialty (knees and ankles), but also her knowledge in what she doesn’t know. I mentioned that I was having wrist issues as well, and her ears instantly perked up. She wrote a referral for the Seattle Arthritis Clinic and told me I needed to talk to them. Shortly thereafter, I had my appointment set up with Dr. Jeff Peterson, who saw me and stole my blood. When the results came back a week later, he ran me through three pages of things I didn’t have…

It wasn’t arthritis… or lupus… or some awful eight-syllable word (which he reassured me I should be VERY glad I don’t have).”But,” he said, “look at this.”

What he showed me was a big number. He said it was my IgE test result. “Normal” allergic people, he said, in the average range of people allergic to things, got about a 14 on the test. My number trumped that number in multiples. I was so far off the bell curve that I wasn’t even on the chart anymore. Apparently, I had a little allergy problem. Dr. Peterson sent me on to another doctor in the Seattle Arthritis Clinic – Heidi Turner, where with work and time, she had a diagnosis for me.


<<read about my Amine Diagnosis…>>

Published on August 5, 2011 at 11:17 pm  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Michelle,

    Kylie here from Kylie’s Blog.
    Thanks for leaving a message on my blog. It’s led me here and I am starting to think amines may be a problem for me – tho to nowhere near the extent you describe.

    My joints often swell up and get quite painful, particularly my elbows, wrists and fingers. I have been to the Dr on several occasions – and they eliminated arthritis and were generally unhelpful.

    I attribute my worst flare ups to diet drinks (Coke zero in particular) – which I no longer drink. Ever. It’s the only definitive link I have been able to make.

    My tongue reacts to sharp cheese, pineapple and some wines. It get tender red lumps (welts I guess) over my tongue and it becomes generally tender.

    I might try the elimination for a period of time and see how this impacts my joints.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

    • On the one hand, hurrah that I may have given you a lead to help you figure out what your issues are. On the other… OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Though I’ve learned to eat my way around my allergies, good gods is an amine allergy not fun.

      I hope you’re able to figure it out! Do keep me up to date, and if you have questions at all, let me know. If you want to do an elimination diet, I highly suggest talking to Heidi Turner (she’s the nutritionist that diagnosed me, and is familiar with amines and such). You can contact her through my “doctor / book” referral page.

      Also, you can get an elimination diet handbook, published by RPAH. It gives instructions on the how-to when doing it all yourself. I did, however, find Heidi’s insights VERY helpful, and I am pretty sure she does do work via email as well as in person, if you’re interested.

      Goodness, good luck to you. If you read anything in my blog, read through the tools, pages, spreadsheets, and resources in the top right of my blog. They’ll give you a much better idea of what to cut out.

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