Too Young to Suffer from the “Silent Disease”. Juanita opens up about her battle with Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis.
Juanita Heart of New South Wales, Australia is only 40 and suffers from Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease. A person with osteoporosis has an increased risk of breaking a bone, making simple movements difficult. Osteoporosis usually has no symptoms until a fracture occurs, hence it is often called the 'silent disease'. Osteoarthritis is the inflammation and stiffness of the joints. It is a degenerative joint disease that involves thinning or destruction of the smooth cartilage that covers the ends of bones, as well as, changes to the bone underlying the joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis produces pain, stiffness and reduces movement of the affected joint, which ultimately affects one’s ability to do physical activities, reducing quality of life.
Having been diagnosed 2 years ago at age 38, Juanita has had to battle the disease, along with mental illness, nervous breakdown and a whole host of other medical concerns. After a roller coaster journey, Juanita believes it is her duty to become a patient advocate for young sufferers like herself and is beginning a blog about her story.
Juanita spoke with baimeni about her uphill battle and how is it to live with the debilitating pain.
I have now suffered a double back fracture and a hand fracture, both of which were caused by stress and doing normal, everyday activities. I didn’t expect to be diagnosed with Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis because this happened at such a young age, most people are diagnosed over the age of 50. Osteoporosis can impact anyone, though women are at a greater risk because of the rapid decline in oestrogen levels during menopause. And again, Osteoarthritis can impact anyone, and usually occurs as you get older and women are at a higher risk than men.
I had to stop doing EVERYTHING until my nervous system could calm down. When my back first fractured I had a swollen liver, a blocked bowel, nerve problems and I suffered from a nervous breakdown. Prior to the fractures, I had not been well for about a month. I was working 60-hour weeks and felt life was stressful. But I believed that this was the norm. That this is how most people felt who worked full time and had a family to care.
These are photos of me when I was sick. My face is so swollen and my eyes, oh I see the pain in them. I was on daily medication. My whole body was inflamed. And I put on 15kg in 6 months. My skin is dry and I look and feel worn out.
Basically, I did a sizable number on myself and, yes, I have learnt my lesson. Because I became this sick, anything that I put on my skin or in my mouth I experienced a reaction, either good or bad. Since, this has sent me on a war path to find the very cleanest things for my body.
I have become conscience of every chemical that could be applied or ingested. And though I am still battling with a lot of pain and am on one pain killer a week, this is the best I have ever felt physically in two years. I am also able to manage simple housework and have been able to go back to work, though a lot different to my previous work, it is more appropriate for my current body situation.
What’s it Like to Live with the Pain Every Day?
So, to live with it daily it is the inflammation that gets to me, some days I am so good and jump out of bed, and other days I wake up in pain and just lay and cry. The main joints impacted are my knees, ankles, elbows and wrists. And on the painful days the joints just seem to stop working and even walking to toilet is so painful.
Anything I eat, put on my body or touch can play a part in this. A lot of things cause inflammation and a lot of things can help, so it is about finding what works well for me. I use magnesium sprays, rubs and creams daily. Basically, soaking and wrapping myself in magnesium. I also take magnesium supplements, as well as, boron, zinc and silica.
I can honestly say that one of the best product I have found to help me is the Organic Turmeric Spice Blend with Dandelion Root by Root’d. I drink this twice daily and I feel because of this, eight months ago I was able to go off the prescribed inflammation tablets.
Chemicals are the main things that affect the hormone levels. Therefore, taking very careful consideration of everything that I eat, put on my skin, nails and hair and even the detergents used in and around the house all have an enormous impact on my health. One of my tell-tale signs is my period, which stopped and then I bled every two weeks for over six months. Secondly, joint inflammation which is horrendously painful. And finally, skin rashes or breakouts. Chemicals are a huge problem still for me as my nervous system is now hyper sensitive.
The key ingredients that I stay away from because they have proven to have a direct impact on my joints are coal, petroleum, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, F, D & C pigments (contain heavy metals) and alcohol.
Finding the Right Skincare.
I have suffered from sensitive skin my whole life, so naturally I’ve always gravitated towards natural and organic products. But when I became ill and I couldn’t eat or defecate, I had to literally investigate everything that I used. I understand that my skin is my largest organ, so it absorbs everything I apply on it. When I started to read each of the product’s ingredients label that I was using, I became quite frustrated. There were so many chemicals listed…even in so called “natural” products. That’s when I broadened my search to non-supermarket or over the counter products and found baimeni. I love the whole range, but the two products from baimeni that I simply cannot live without are the Honey Face Mask & Facial Cleanser and Eye & Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid. I love that they are made with love, no nasties, Australian owned and cruelty free. I also love that these skincare products care about the product and what their customers think. And I’ve done a lot of background work into various ingredients.
I am a strong believer of a holistic approach, so if I can help my body heal from the outside, as well as, the inside, I’m going for it! Since I have begun using natural and organic products, such as baimeni, my skin and hair has never looked so good!
I also have a list of food that I cannot eat as I know it affects my condition.
I’ve made the switch from coffee to Turmeric milk. This was difficult has coffee is certainly one of my very few vices, but it’s more of a treat now and something I have every now and again as coffee impacts my menopause and bones.
I also stay away from refined sugars and salts and processed meat and foods, as there are far too many chemicals use to create or preserve these that impact my overall health.
I’m also in the process of trialling how to become gluten free, as I believe that this will have a positive impact on my gut health. But it’s a constant learning curve. Though I want to avoid the pain caused by these foods, I must make sure that my body receives the correct dosage of minerals and vitamins. A cookbook I have ben trialling is The Health Bones Nutrition Plan & Cookbook by Dr. Laura Kelly & Helen Kelly. The authors believe that through whole foods individuals can treat and prevent Osteoporosis. A direct quote from their website, “Despite the millions consumers spend on calcium pills and the number of prescriptions for bone loss drugs they fill, worldwide there is an osteoporotic fracture every three seconds. Clearly, calcium pills and pharmaceuticals aren’t enough to keep bones healthy - but the science is right: diet can. Eating the right foods in the right nutrient combinations can help you build bone reserves before menopause, control bone loss after it, and arrest bone loss if not restore it at any time of life. We know this firsthand because some of the recipes in this book were Helen Kelly’s starting point for arresting severe osteoporotic bone loss at age 70”.
It’s Difficult to Find Help.
Getting help was so freaking hard! It was too difficult to explain to people why I was in so much pain, yet I looked completely normal. I would be down the street and bump into someone and they are like ‘oh you look great’. But on the inside, I was screaming, I wanted to die in pain, standing upright was killing me and all I wanted to do was lay down.
I received a significant amount of support from my family, and this is only because so many of my family members are impacted by a bone disease. As for friends, I’ve lost a few but also gained new and supportive friends.
For about six months I couldn’t dress, shower, do housework or drive. I needed help getting in and out of bed, on and off the toilet and in and out of shower. It started to play on my mind, confidence and body image. Funny enough through, all these dark times, that is when I started researching my skincare and self-love. I thought, since I can just “lay” here, at least I can give my skin a brush, apply a face mask or take a relaxing bath. This also helped to lift my moods.
My struggle with the whole thing has been finding factual information with real health benefits and finding support.
Also, as I am quite young, I was undiagnosed and dismissed for over three months; though in pain and I also have a family history for Osteoporosis. My cousin just had her fist knee replacement at 44, my mother and sister have both knees reconstructed.
I did not want to be taking medication as the long-term solution. Therefore, I have made the choice for natural treatments. It was even an arduous process to find a Doctor who was well versed in my disease and understood Western Herbal Medicine as well as Western Medicine. To further complicate matters, I recently came off my mental health medicine and am unable to find the right support whilst I still struggle with this disease.
Though, I am still just coming out of the darkest days of my life and I have learnt so much about life, pain and just being human through this experience. I also have found that I seriously need to “love” myself and take care of the body I have been given. I know that this phrase is thrown around a bit, but I guess you take it for granted until you’re forced to make a change.
Honestly, this is the best I have looked and felt in years!
Luckily, I am a proactive person and I reached out to as many people as I knew. Now I am pleased to say that I am creating a local support network. I feel like through this journey I have found my passion and my place, and I know it is to help others, like me, find support and share my learnings to help ease their suffering.
Furthermore, I’ve come across a range of essential vibration remedies by Welcome which I believe have helped to restore my vibration from my nervous breakdown. I love these products so much that I now sell and work with the remedies daily. I run daily sessions and hope to help others in a comparable situation to mine.
It’s easy to say if I knew all this 10 years ago I would be so healthy right now and more than likely I wouldn’t have suffered from early age stress fractures.
I cannot reverse time. But what I can do is keep fine tuning my life. When I have a difficult day now, I reflect on what I have put on or has touched my skin, what I have eaten, how much sleep I have had, or how stressful my day has been. And I am grateful for my personal journey, though it’s a winding road, I have been able to find compassion in my suffering. I know that now I can help and support others.
In the near future, I will be launching my personal blog with my story and will be offering help and support to anyone going through long term pain or similar issues. I also want to share all the useful information I have found that has worked for me.
All the best,
- Juanita Heart x
baimeni is writing these columns to help increase awareness about autoimmune diseases and the journey baimeni customers are taking. They explain their conditions, how it affects their lives, what choices they are making, what they have learnt and how they will move forward. If you would like to be interviewed about your experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org