Miracles Do Happen!!
name is Cheryl and I am now 47 years old. Life has not been easy
for me, but I thank my husband, George, for helping me through many
of my most difficult recent times. We have been together for 6 years
and married for 3 years. For the past 4 years I have been in constant
physical pain and George has suffered from the verbal pain
I have inflicted on him by not suffering in silence. I think it
is sometimes harder for the people who have to live close, than
the person who is in the actual pain.
I have been a very physically active person all of my life with
horseback riding, archery, and motorcycling three of my favorite
sports. I remained well until March of 1998 when I was injured entering
data into computer at work they called it "repetitive
strain injury" After 4 straight hours of typing my right
arm went into spasm and froze up. Then the pain spread into my neck,
shoulder, and eventually down into my lower right leg where I had
a sciatica-type pain. I had been walking 3 miles a day when this
happened, but afterwards I had trouble getting across the room.
The sole of my foot was tender to the touch. The pain affected my
overall health. I was exhausted to where I could hardly do anything
to walk across the room was a major effort. The more I tried
to be active, the worse I felt. Even with all that fatigue I had
trouble sleeping. George says I slept, but it seemed to me like
I was up all night. In May of 2001 I stopped work all together and
went on medical disability.
In September 2001 a physical medicine specialist diagnosed me with
fibromyalgia. He recommended muscle relaxants, antidepressants,
exercise and involvement in a fibromyalgia support group. I tried
muscle relaxants, but I didn't want to get hooked, and I didn't
really feel any better. So I refused to resort to powerful drugs
to control the pain. I found some relief with Aleve, 2 tablets twice
a day. I also tried massage with some relief. Even though my chiropractor
has been very supportive, I can't say her treatments have made
The pain and disability dominated my life and took a serious toll
on my relationship with George. I was bitchy all the time. George
is one of those strong, quiet, supportive husbands most women would
love to be married to. But everyone has limits. Finally, George
gave me the ultimatum, "Do something or leave." You can
imagine how bad things must have gotten for him to reach this level
of unhappiness and frustration. His other quality, that eventually
made all the difference in my health, was that he had been raised
most of his life as a vegetarian he very seldom ate meat
now as an adult and oily foods upset his stomach and he was
also very physically active. So it was natural that he kept encouraging
me to look in these directions for help.
I had purchased "The McDougall Program - 12 Days to Dynamic
Health" in 2000 for my mother who had been diagnosed with atherosclerosis.
My mother said she was too old to change her eating habits so the
book went on a shelf. She passed away in May, 2001. I had forgotten
about the book until we were packing to move into a different house
in March, 2002. I started reading the book and discussing the McDougall
diet with George. With the pain from my injury getting worse, we
decided a change of diet wouldn't hurt.
I went on the internet at www.drmcdougall.com and read about the
Health Clinic/Spa Program in Santa Rosa. After reviewing the information,
George and I agreed we should try the Program, after all, he already
knew he felt better when eating only vegetables and fruits, and
nothing else I'd tried lessened the pain. We arrived in Santa
Rosa on July 26, 2002. I must admit, I didn't hold out much
hope for getting better but at least I could say that I had
now tried everything.
Even though the food was delicious and we were absorbing lots of
wonderful information about our bodies, I was beginning to think
we'd wasted our time and money coming to this program because
the pain was still there. I was about to admit to myself that I
might have to resort to powerful pain killers as a last resort.
Then the eighth morning of the program I woke up at 5:30 AM -- lying
in bed, I felt something was wrong, but I did know immediately what
was different. I must have laid there for about 15 minutes or so
before it dawned on me: THERE WAS NO PAIN. I didn't say anything
to George yet because I thought I might be dreaming. I turned on
the light and looked at my hands and feet. THEY WERE NOT SWOLLEN.
Remember I'd been in constant, never-ending pain since 1998
and now there was NOTHING!! I told George, "Look, my hands
and feet aren't swollen and I don't hurt!" I got
out of bed and stood up and poked myself in the arms and legs, but
As of this writing, October 19, 2002, I am still free from the
pain caused by the fibromyalgia and still following the McDougall
Diet. There are side benefits too. My top weight was 145 pounds
in January of 2001. Since July 26, 2002 I've also lost thirteen
pounds - going from 138 in August to my present weight of 125 pounds.
I haven't been perfect on the diet, but when I'm not,
I pay. For example, one night last week my 29-year-old daughter
brought over a package of M& M's. I couldn't stop
with just one so I ate the whole package. The next morning
I was in pain and my eyes, face, hands and feet were swollen again.
So guess who's in charge of my health now? Everyday I seem
to be making better choices and as a result I feel better now than
I have in years, even before 1998 and my injury. I think this is
a miracle. I have many people to thank for this, but especially
my husband, George, who has been by my side every moment through
the good times and the "not so good times."
Now Cheryl can pick the days she feels well and those days she
is willing to be sick and in pain. You likely have the same choices,
but may not know it. People come to me with health problems that
are a mystery to them and their doctors and at times I
have no idea what is wrong with them or whether or not they will
get well with a healthy diet and lifestyle. But, my response is
always the same:
"Why not find out if you are incurably ill or not. Follow
the program I suggest for a while say 4 weeks and
see what happens. Follow the advice strictly so you know whether
or not there is relief to be had. If you do resolve your problems,
then at least there is someplace you can go to feel good. When
you know this for sure, because of the positive experience, then
you are in charge of your days. You may not always make the right
choice, but you are in now in control."
Chronic pain is usually due, at least in
part, to an unhealthy diet. I expect people with headaches, stomach
aches, muscle pains and arthritis to improve dramatically with
a change in diet. Especially, when there is no obvious cause for
their pains such as an injury or noticeable disease. Many
times, this pain relief is due to stopping the cause of the problem,
like with inflammatory arthritis (see my web site, www.drmcdougall.com,
"Diet: Only hope for arthritis.") Other benefits come
from the generalized anti-inflammatory effects of a healthy diet.
There are also changes in brain chemistry, such as an increase
in the neurotransmitter, serotonin this substance having
pain-relieving affects on the nervous system.
Many people suffer with chronic pains and
travel from doctor to medical clinic to alternative practitioner
looking for help. They sometimes think, "If only they knew
what I had, then I could get cured." Unfortunately, when
it comes to chronic pain, this is rarely the case. Doctors name
most chronic painful conditions by noting similar signs and symptoms
that fit your problems into a category (a group). Unfortunately,
having a name brings the patients no closer to knowing the cause
or finding the cure. Consider, you are now told you have rheumatoid
arthritis, or Lupus, or fibromyalgia. Your doctor does not know
the cause of any of these illnesses, and the treatments, regardless
of what you call it, are the same: NSAIDs (pain killers), muscle
relaxants, and if you keep complaining, tranquilizers and antidepressants.
For those who look further, and especially
for those who understand the fundamental importance of diet, there
is real hope. I believe the cause of most of these problems is
an unhealthy diet this is a good thing to believe because
diet is something tangible, that you can change. On my web site
you will find 24 studies on the benefits of diet on inflammatory
arthritis (2 more studies have since been published see
on my web site "Star McDougaller Jean Brown.").
People with fibromyalgia have been shown to greatly benefit from
a vegan (no animal products) diet in two recent studies:
Kaartinen K. Vegan diet alleviates fibromyalgia
symptoms. Scand J Rheumatol. 2000;29(5):308-13.
Donaldson MS. Fibromyalgia syndrome improved
using a mostly raw vegetarian diet: An observational study. BMC
Complement Altern Med. 2001;1(1):7.
Before you give up, try something that
is cost-free, nontoxic, highly effective, self-administered and
beneficial to all aspects of your health: a plant-based, low-fat
diet (maybe a little exercise and clean up a few bad habits too).
Like Cheryl and George, you will not be disappointed.
Some of you will want to follow the McDougall
Program on your own with free help from our web site, or with
the aid of our books and tapes. However, those of you who are
very serious and have the time and money to spend 10 days with
us will find our live-in program in Santa Rosa, CA the fastest
and surest way to accomplish your goals permanently. Visit
other sections of our web site for more information about the McDougall