December 28, 2000
I am a 52-year-old man. I was diagnosed with Behcetís syndrome in 1981.
Before that, I had repeated episodes of Iritis in one or both eyes dating back to 1970, some requiring significant use of cortisone, including injections to the eye socket, and many months to control.
In the early 1980ís, I developed debilitating arthritis and mouth ulcers too numerous to count. At the height of my illness I took nearly 100 milligrams of Prednisone a day plus many, many other medicines, had lost weight from 180 pounds to 120 pounds, couldnít turn over in bed by myself, couldnít see and couldnít eat or swallow, even water. I was dying. Doctors declared that there was nothing more they could do for me. Obviously, much to my surprise, I am still here. I would like to share with you the things that seem to have made a difference in my now much improved health.
In 1981, as a last resort and at what I believe were the last few days of my life; someone suggested that I try alternative (holistic) medicine. That day I went to a holistic medical doctor who understood the gravity of my situation. I began a very long road to recovery. It took a full year before I could go back to work as a carpenter.
As I understand it, Behcetís syndrome is the result of a poorly functioning immune system. The holistic doctorís goal was to rebuild my immune system so that it would function properly. This is a very different philosophic approach from standard medical treatment that appears to me to suppress the immune system even more so that it cannot create symptoms.
My treatment included several components, each of which I see as helpful.
From my experience, the task of rebuilding the body is huge; there is no one magic medicine or therapy that can do the job by itself.
First, he had me stop taking the medicines prescribed along the way by my previous multitude of doctors. All, that is except the Prednisone, which took a year to reduce to zero. The loss of my medicines was very frightening to say the least. It took a giant leap of faith to do this.
Second, I was extremely malnourished, so he improved my nutrition. I took approximately 80 vitamin and mineral supplements each day. No one diet is right for everyone. He determined that I should eat a natural foods vegetarian, mostly raw food diet, which I readily and gladly adapted to. I avoid all chemical additives, colorings, flavorings, sugar and other refined (food?) products including coffee. It is ironic that I gave up coffee and moved to Seattle where there is some form of coffee shop on nearly every corner!
I believe that there is an emotional factor in the disease. At the time, several life events caused me to feel resentful, angry, and abandoned. I started psychotherapy to better understand the events that had happened to me. I learned how the events affected me emotionally and physically, and how to have a better response to emotional stress. I learned how to not think of myself as a victim.
The holistic doctor also used homeopathy. I am very grateful to this
modality and believe that it is a very important component of my subsequent significantly better health. There are two schools of homeopathic thought.
Some practitioners use several homeopathic medicines simultaneously. My
doctor used the single medicine approach where a specific homeopathic
medicine is chosen based on the entirety of the patientís symptoms, not just the usual symptoms of the given disease.
Around 1986, I had the silver amalgam fillings removed from my teeth. I
noticed an immediate reduction in mouth ulcers (canker sores). I now go to a holistic dentist. I donít think that any material is perfectly safe in the mouth, but the newer hypoallergenic materials are in my experience a vast improvement over the use of mercury and other metals in the mouth. I wonít have a root canal because of the negative effects on the body that I have heard and read about. I prefer to loose a tooth.
Since that time of dramatic healing in the early 1980ís, I have been able to function quite well. I now work nearly full time as a home inspector (when my customers want to buy a house, I look at its condition for them). I walk on roofs and crawl through the narrow, dirty and damp spaces under houses. I can walk, bicycle and roller blade within the limits of my age. I am generally without the old pains of Behcetís and most people I meet donít have a clue that I was ever critically ill. The Iritis continues to flare on occasion once a year or less frequently, and instead of the 3-month episodes, I now experience episodes of a few weeks or perhaps only days in duration. The Iritis flares usually when I am stressed and canít readily see
a solution to a situation, such as how to help my aging mother.
I find that I am a sensitive person. This works both ways and I am fairly happy overall with the implications of being sensitive to my environment.
However, lately I have noticed that I am affected by being around chemical fragrances in perfumes, cleaning products, laundry products and so called air fresheners (one stink to cover another stink). These products are made of thousands of chemicals. They seem to have a profound influence on my immune system and I am currently figuring out my strategies for dealing with these products. In my own home, I have eliminated all these products. Equal or better products can be found at natural food and other stores. I just had a particularly painful and inflamed 3-week episode of Iritis the day after spending several days in a home that had air fresheners everywhere and a large number of artificially scented candles displayed for the holidays. My vision has not yet returned to normal in my left eye, but it improves daily as the floaters are reabsorbed. I believe that these products should be taken off the market because a growing number of people are becoming chemically sensitive. For more information, search the Internet for
ďmultiple chemical sensitivityĒ.
I have now added acupuncture to my list of useful therapies. These days, my diet is mostly vegetarian and dairy free. After nearly 20 years as a total vegetarian, I now eat fish several times a week and feel better overall. I take a number of vitamin and mineral supplements.
At 52 years old I have learned a lot. The things I have learned and that I practice on a daily basis allow me to live longer, healthier and happier. I can participate in life and my community to the extent that I want to. I am thankful that alternative medicine exists. Although I am appreciative of the efforts of my previous allopathic medical doctors, I will never again rely on their therapies because it is my opinion that one cannot regain health by suppressing symptoms. The only allopathic medicine I will use these days is 2 percent Homatropine to dilate the pupil to minimize adhesions in the eye during Iritis.
I am not a doctor and cannot make any recommendations to anyone suffering with Behcetís syndrome. I can, however, offer encouragement to anyone with the disease. You may want to decide, as I did, to investigate and experiment with alternative therapies of all types. For me, this has lead to an interesting, fulfilling and empowering life. It takes courage and a touch of the willingness to explore without knowing the outcome beforehand. What more can we ask for?
PS: Iím happy to talk with anyone about my experience as my time allows. But please donít ask the following: My doctor is no longer in practice; his name is irrelevant. The homeopathic medicine was chosen for me, not my illness.
Your homeopathic medicine will likely be different from mine. I donít give dietary advice, and I have no idea if anything I did will help anyone else.
I believe that most people can find answers within themselves and near their home. A journey within is necessary. A journey to Mecca or to my acupuncturist may not be necessary.