A PM Survivor! OVERCOMING Polymyositis

OVERCOMING Polymyositis Part II – Taking Back My Health

Author:  Elizabeth Sanchez

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

Some would say that this should have been the worse moment of my life, however, it has proven to be the biggest blessing that I’ve ever received. It woke me up! I had my Oprah “AHA!” moment and realized that it was completely logical that it had come back, since I had changed absolutely nothing about my lifestyle. Whatever combinations of things that had caused and triggered the disease were still present. That’s when I took responsibility for my own health. I had to understand and learn what was going to heal me. There would be no easy way out; no magic pill. It would require work, sacrifice, dedication, perseverance and faith!

The real work was just starting! My dad suggested getting in touch with a nutritionist in New York that he knew who specialized in nutrition as a means of recovery from illness. After speaking with her, she suggested I immediately remove wheat and white processed sugar from my diet. Her formula was 60% vegetables, 10% protein, 10% good carbs, and 10% starch. The rationale behind giving up sugar is because white sugar causes your white blood cells to become enlarged and sluggish. It is the exact opposite of what we need to happen during illness. We want our body’s defenses to be fast, effective and efficient. By eliminating white sugar, we can significantly impact our chances of successfully battling our illnesses. The elimination of wheat (gluten) comes because digestion of gluten is very difficult for the human body, especially the large amounts of it that the average person consumes daily. The idea is to consume things that are easier for digestion so that the body can devote its energy towards fighting the illness rather than for digestion. It seems logical and simple…because it is! It’s about understanding how your body works and giving it the tools to do its job.

Giving your body the proper nutrients is vital! I had to find out what I was deficient in and add the foods and supplements that would replenish my depleted system and enable my body to do it’s job of fighting this disease. Diet is a huge part of the process of healing, however, it is not the only part. You can take all the supplements in the world and eat the best diet, but if your body is filled with toxins from years of abuse (environmental, diet, smoking, alcohol, prescription drug use, illegal drug use, chemically laden products, etc.), you will never reap the benefits of these changes. Imbalances in the body, deficiencies and toxins cause illness! From a clinical perspective, these are easy to detect if you have a competent lab that can accurately identify and perform the correct tests. The hardest part is determining the cause! Everything in the body is connected; so one deficiency can lead to an imbalance, which might stem from a toxic element that you don’t even realize you are being exposed to! So the first steps of changing your diet must also be combined with detoxing the body. I am convinced that the majority of diseases stems from the toxic buildup that is present in our digestive tract. We are all predisposed to disease and illness due to our genetic makeup. Whether these illnesses and diseases strike, depends on our lifestyle choices and what we are exposed to, which in turn can cause these dormant cells to become active within our bodies.

Detoxing is vitally important, but it is also dangerous. These same toxins are part of the reason that caused your illness. To bring them all out, too fast, is dangerous and can cause the illness to worsen, if an appropriate individualized detox program isn’t designed and implemented. There is no formula, because each person brings a different set of circumstances to the disease, so detox must be an individually prescribed process. My choice was to detox using natural products (green tea, raw foods, etc.) in my diet, as well as nutritional products from Metagenics that are designed for detoxification. My belief and preference is that detox should happen in the same way as God had intended…to quote my personal trainer “from North to South”. Many people use colonics and enemas as a detox and cleansing ritual, however, for me, I felt the severity of my reaction to this disease, made me want to handle detox more conservatively and not try methods that were too aggressive. However, I am currently advising a young woman (32 years old), diagnosed with polymyositis. She has been not only following the diet and taking the necessary nutrients/supplements, but she has seen great effects from enemas as part of her detox program. Once again…each person is very different and there is no one formula that will work, but there are certain truths that can be applied for all those suffering from illness.

Just as human beings are multifaceted, healing must also take place on several levels. It’s about healing the complete person: BODY, MIND and SPIRIT! The diet, supplements, Chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, massage therapy and water therapy exercises help the body, but the other two areas may address the root of the problem for many of us. Trauma that has been left emotionally unresolved, resentment, anger, jealousy and stress are just a few of the things that we need to deal with and that will contribute in the development of any disease/illness when left unresolved.

For me, I did positive affirmations, prayer, reiki and read powerfully impactful books that helped me put my life into perspective. I stayed away from negativity (negative people, daily news reports, depressing movies… I became a “chic flicks only” kind of gal!!!). I watched TV programs that could help me gain insight and improve myself in various aspects of my life. As I slowly started to improve, I used my energy to do positive things and found ways to contribute to those less fortunate.

(Did you miss part I? Check it out here

Check back next week for Part III



Myositis Support and Understanding Association (MSU) is a patient-centered, all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Empowering the Myositis Community. Founded by Myositis patients, for Myositis patients, MSU provides education, support, advocacy, access to research and clinical trial matching, and need-based financial assistance.

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  1. Elizabeth Sanchez 7 years ago

    Dear Karen,

    Uff..this is my third attempt to try to post a reply! My last one was lost when I tried to to post and lost the internet connection. I’ll try to remember all that I wrote!

    Thank you for your reply to my post regarding my journey with Polymyositis! Part III contains that part of how I’m doing now and I believe you can find it within the same thread at the bottom of Part II. If it is any indication of how well I’m doing, I’m just arriving from a ski trip Steamboat! I’m back to myself and even better than before! I dance 5 days a week, workout with a trainer twice a week and am either performing or producing musicals throughout the year. I keep up with my gluten-free, sugar-free, vegetarian lifestyle. I eat some shellfish and fish, but limit myself to once or twice a week because of the heavy metals found in most fish and shellfish. I do a yearly detox and continue to take supplements to reinforce my immune system and the damaged liver due to the medications.

    I try to do things that make sense. When the doctors wanted to give me a list of drugs before they even knew what was wrong with me, it didn’t make sense. I ended up taking the prednisone and eventually the methotrexate because I was in shock at my rapid decline and was in shock as to what else I should be doing. My relapse was my blessing, since it woke me up to the fact that I need to make changes in order to expect my situation to change. I think it is absolutely ludicrous that doctors don’t recommend dietary changes or find a relationship between diet and autoimmune disease! In all my reading, over 90% of illness can be linked to toxins in the intestines/gut. Add that to genetic tendencies and you get illnesses that come out in various forms.

    With that said, I am not completely anti-medication. I believe there is a time and place for it. When the body is in crisis, medication can save lives by slowing or stopping a process. However, the error comes from thinking that the medication is all we need to get better. The medication didn’t cause the illness, so it obviously won’t be the complete cure we are looking for. We need to make lifestyle changes in order for our bodies to work properly and be ready to take over when the medication isn’t present in our systems.

    I weaned myself very slowly and carefully off of the medication. I didn’t want to be on it, yet I realized the risks of getting off of it too soon. I prepared my body through diet, therapy, exercise and supplements, making sure that I was asymtomatic and my clinical lab tests supported that the disease was not in an active state. It took me nearly a year to wean from 20 mg of prednisone. I took my time and tried not to rush the process in order to avoid a relapse. Each person is different and doctors don’t really understand how to get you off of this powerful drug. Be smart and do your research so you are well informed before each step. Make sure your adrenal glands are ready to activate when the medication drops below 10 mg. Listen to your body. I found that tricking the body by altering the dosages slightly before decreasing to the next increment and extending the number of hours between dosages, helped to confuse my body so that the adrenals had to wake up and do their job.

    If I remember anything else that was in my previous post, I’ll try to add it later on. In the meantime, if there is anything that I can do to help support you on your journey, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll be happy to share with you my experience and what I’ve discovered throughout this process.

    Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy New Year!
    Elizabeth Sanchez

  2. Karen Brown 7 years ago

    I rarely come to this page. After I found this group a few months ago, I thought I would find people here with some of the answers I was seeking to this illness. I was “diagnosed” in August with Polymysitis. I use quotes because my doctor was reluctant to give me a diagnosis without the muscle biopsy he ordered. It was not within my budget. I had every symptom on the list. He has the disorder listed on my chart as my diagnosis. When I first came here, I asked if anyone had tried managing the symptoms of Polymyositis with diet, and no one seemed to have done so. Like you, I do not want any medications and their side effects to wreak havoc on my body. I have been on Prednisone since August, beginning at 60mg, and scaling down. My Doctor prescribed Methotrexate in November, along with the 20mg dosage level. He told me that I would not be able to tolerate going below 20mg of the steroid. Since he was not initially interested in my Paleo diet approach to mend my leaky gut, I decided on my first visit that I would use his steroids to get out of bed, and then I would be on my own. I have the Methotrexate (my husband filled it just in case) but I have not taken any. I have scaled down to 10mg daily, and plan to go lower. I am feeling good, other than a persistent headache, and pain/pressure in the back of my neck. The headache/neck pain was there at the onset of the disease, and even on 60mg was present.

    I am so thrilled to hear of another drug-resistant warrior who has done what I am doing. Diet changes, lifestyle changes, awareness of household products and personal care products that add to the body load. I watched a video by Dr. Mercola today, and he stated that GMOs contribute to leaky gut, which trigger autoimmune disorders. I eat as clean as possible. Raw mik, cultured foods, Kombucha, Kefir, grass-fed beef, and natural, real foods.

    Thank you SO much for your blog post! I wonder how you are now, and hope you are strong and healthy!

    Karen Brown

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