Cardiac arrest, lesions, thinning hair, life-threatening hypotension, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of muscle mass, depression, convulsions, vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds, emotional instability and irritability, hallucinations, long-term memory loss, schizophrenia, blurred vision, and decreased resistance to infection.
Those are just a few of the hundreds of reported side effects for the drugs I was presented with in the fall of 2005. I sat in the doctor’s office, with my mom, stunned at the news I had received. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis – an incurable auto-immune disease, in which one’s body attacks itself, causing severe joint pain, deformation and chronic inflammation.
I was only 16 years old and it seemed I had one of two choices: take the immune-suppressing drugs – whose side effects seemed worse than the disease itself – or refuse the drugs, while my body continued to attack itself, eventually leading to complete deterioration.
My mom was hesitant to put her 16-year-old son on drugs with the side effects comparable to those of chemotherapy, so she questioned the doctor, asking if there were any alternative treatments of the disease. His response: “Nope. I’m a doctor; you’re going to have to trust me.” And that’s where my seven-year journey began.