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For well over a decade, I knew that I needed to come off the immunosuppressant steroid drug prednisone. I had been on it since the summer of 2001; four months after being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease myasthenia gravis, which causes extreme muscle weakness. I was 22 years old.

My neurologist prescribed it to help improve my symptoms before a surgery that was supposed to force the disease into remission. He explained I could begin tapering off the prednisone immediately after surgery. Unfortunately my body responded badly each time I attempted to lower the high dosage; even by as little as five milligrams.

I would be a prisoner to this drug for the next 13 years.

The Prednisone Meltdown Begins

When my then neurologist first prescribed prednisone, I clearly remember asking him if there was anything I should be concerned about. His answer was a very reassuring “no.” He stated that since I had a small frame, I need not worry about weight gain. Oh the lies he told. I gained 15 lbs. in one year. I also developed osteopenia because he neglected to inform me that prednisone weakens the bones. So for years I took the drug without supplementing with calcium or vitamin D. Osteopenia was a walk in the park given what the other side effects prednisone had in store for me.

Summer 2012 started out like any other summer: hot, fun, and with me enjoying as many moments as humanly possible. One day, literally out of nowhere, my uterus began to pain me in a way that at times would feel like someone was stabbing me. Prior to being on prednisone my periods were a breeze, but two years after being placed on the medication, seemingly for no understandable reason, my periods became debilitating.

Years prior, I had been diagnosed with fibroids. Even after having the fibroids surgically removed, my periods remained heavy, but thankfully the pain had decreased. Finally in October 2014 after waiting more than two years for an MRI thanks to Medicaid (United States government health coverage for people with low income), I was diagnosed with adenomyosis, which is similar to endometriosis in that the lining of the uterus doesn’t properly shed during a woman’s menstrual cycle. This causes the uterus to become larger and menstrual bleeding to become exceedingly heavy with a significant amount of pain experienced even when a woman is not on her period.

Before I would find relief from the pain and bleeding caused by the adenomyosis, I  needed monthly morphine shots, had more than 10 blood transfusions, and experienced more  emergency room visits than I care to remember.

Although doctors could never definitively say what caused the issues with my uterus, I have always believed that the toxicity of prednisone coupled with stress is what caused it. I also believe prednisone created hormonal imbalances that contributed to the fibroids and adenomyosis. I knew that if I wanted to heal both physically and mentally, I would have to come off prednisone permanently.

Path To Healing

I officially began my healing journey May 2, 2014. For a few months prior, I’d contemplated suicide. I’d even gone so far as to call my insurance agent to ask if my insurance policies paid out in the event of a suicide. Yes, I’ve been told suicide is exceedingly selfish, and I wasn’t willing to stick my mother with funeral expenses she could not pay. While on the phone with my agent, I could hear the happiness in her voice from simply catching up with me. I couldn’t bear to bring her pain in that moment, so I decided that I’d either call back another time or simply send an email to inquire about the payout. Then a chance conversation with an associate led me to an herbalist who would put me on what has now become a full-time, life-altering journey.

These are the key three things I did to stop taking prednisone:

1. Rid My Life Of All Distractions

That day I quit prednisone cold turkey. Now I don’t recommend this as a way for anyone to come off this medication. It can cause life-threatening side effects to abruptly stop the medication. For me the alternative was suicide, so I figured I had absolutely nothing to lose. When I made the decision to stop taking the medication, I also went into a quiet space to heal. This meant that I stopped working, partying, socializing, and removed as many forms of stress from my life so that I could clearly hear, without any distractions, my body tell me what it needed to heal.

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2. Make Yoga A Daily Regime

At the recommendation of a friend, I immediately undertook Bikram yoga. My practice was usually six to seven days per week; I even participated in a 30-day Bikram challenge. Through my yoga practice, I began to see how my body had functioned continually under stress for so many years. The tension I had carried in my shoulders for well over a decade went away. Also my mind began to calm down. Things that would cause high levels of stress in my life like relationships and not having enough money barely caused me to think twice about. It became clear to me that before my body could be receptive to any form of healing, my mind would have to first calm down to be able to adequately receive the healing. My muscles immediately began to get stronger. The only symptom of the myasthenia gravis that persistently continued was the double vision.

3. High Levels of Vitamin A

For years, I consumed high levels of vitamin A in the form of chlorella and spirulina. I was told by a naturopath that vitamin A is essential for eye health. No matter how much chlorella and spirulina I consumed, the double vision persisted. Then one day while in the hospital receiving a blood transfusion because I was hemorrhaging due to my uterus, I came across an article on the Weston A. Price Foundation website that stated how high levels of cod liver oil could improve menstrual cycles.

As I began taking the cod liver oil, I immediately noticed how my autoimmune disease symptoms were less prevalent. My facial muscles were so strong that I could talk all day without my speech being slurred. I could also walk in high heels all day without having to change into flats due to weak ankles. It got to the point where I’d forget to take my second dosage of the cod liver oil in the afternoon.

I also became aware of how objects and people in my path were completely clear as I walked down the street. My vision was restored to about 95 percent. I stay on top of my health by getting adequate doses of Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, as well as opting for organic fruits and vegetables, and grassfed meats whenever possible. I truly believe that balance is key to a happy life, although I do enjoy sweets on occasion.

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