My health story
Ghzala Zia, from Glasgow, found her fingers wouldn't work properly in the morning, until...
‘Most of us take opening a screw-top jar for granted, just as I did – until two years ago, when my fingers started feeling stiff and painful when I woke up in the morning. I couldn't straighten them up or grip, and the joints swelled to double their normal size.
And while the pain eased off in the afternoon, it came back every night. At around 2am, I’d wake up in agony, and feeling exhausted only compounded my problems.
My GP tool a blood test and then referred me to a rheumatology clinic. Their tests showed the start of arthritis (RA) in my hands and elbow – my immune systems was mistakenly attacking my joints. I was offered drugs, but they could have cause problems with my kidneys and liver – it sounded like potentially swapping one problem for another.
So I read up on foods that can aggravate rheumatoid arthritis, then gradually cut out bread, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, potatoes, red meat and fruit juices. And if I liked fizzy drinks, they’d would have gone too. But rather than send my body (and my emotions) into shock, I slowly cut back one food at a time. Starting with potatoes, which I love, I limited then to every other day, then every third day, then fourth, until my craving disappeared.
Then I did the same with bread, tomatoes, and so on.
But my disturbed nights continued and my fingers, while they marginally better, were still stiff.
My local health store manager told me about products containing Montmorency cherries could help with sleep problems, so I bought some capsules. Took two that night and had the most amazing sleep – and woke up actually feeling refreshed.
After weeks, I started noticing my fingers felt easier. I didn't want to spoil it by shouting too loudly but slowly my fingers started feeling like my own again.
Then, a few months ago, my consultant rheumatologist took some new test. Any sign of inflammation had gone. ‘Whatever you are doing, keep doing it’, he told me before he discharged me as a patient.
So now, I’m rheumatoid arthritis free! I’ll keep taking the capsules and sticking to my diet – and I’ll never take my fingers for granted again.'