Laura Beat Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) by Taking Control of Her Life

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I am a second chance miracle.  

– Laura Haskett

A Rough Start

I was a very curious child, eager to study, research, and read. My interior life was rich, and I loved science, being outdoors, and gardening. I spent happy times with extended family, and enjoyed school activities, but all of that was enshrouded in a halo of fear and discomfort. At home, my parents controlled every aspect of my life, from the words I used and the things I did to the clothes I wore and the friends I had.

My mother grew up in a stable family with four siblings, and her mother and father ensured the family participated in church, school, and youth activities. My father, on the other hand, was an only child whose parents divorced when he was eight years old. My paternal grandmother made the best of a bad situation, but my father’s father was not actively involved in raising his son, and when he was around, life for my father consisted of foul language, excessive drinking, and womanizing.

Perhaps because of this, my father grew up to be verbally abusive and a proponent of corporal punishment. If a swat or two were considered reasonable by most, then he believed 10 harsh smacks were better. To complicate my life, my father was the principal of my elementary school and my mother was a teacher there, so I was never out of their view—or safe from their criticism. Even when my father wasn’t home, my mother was expected to tell him everything I did, and he wouldn’t hesitate to punish me depending on what she reported to him. I was always on guard, and there was no place where I could be myself or enjoy being a kid. Without getting to express my own identity, I began to feel like a robot.

Finding Inner Strength

Because I was raised to swallow my thoughts and feelings and never to disagree with others, even when I thought they were wrong, I never learned to stand up for myself. As a result, in adulthood, I made some poor life decisions.

I agreed to marry a man I knew I shouldn’t marry, because I didn’t know how to speak up for myself and say no. To this day I’m not sure how I developed the resilience to muddle through the mess I got myself into, but after many years of protecting myself and relying on a well of deep internal strength, I knew there was more to life than what I was experiencing.

One night, when both of my children witnessed the verbal and physical abuse inflicted on me by their father, I finally became determined to remove my children from this situation. I would not let my daughter grow up thinking it was okay for a man to treat a woman this way, and likewise, I would not allow my son to think it was okay to do this to a woman. After 10 years of withstanding verbal, emotional, and physical abuse—not to mention, infidelity—I filed for divorce.

Just like that, I became a single mother with two young children and zero income, but I was still adamant about building a home of peace, comfort, and stability for them, and for me. I would keep going and never give up, no matter how dire my circumstances. I began to pray and trust God to help me through this new path. I gave myself moments of quiet and deep breathing to relax and think through the next steps. Although I doubted myself many times and feared I would not be able to provide for my children, I maintained my faith and inner fortitude.

A New Beginning—And New Symptoms

My persistence paid off! I built my own business, bought my own house and car, and created a comfortable, stable home for me and my children. A few years later, I met a wonderful man who became a valuable part of our lives. As we embarked on a new life journey together, we were faced with a lot of decisions, some of which were very tough.

Transitioning family dynamics required learning new ways of being and adapting. Moving to a new city, a new home, and new schools for my children, and embarking on a new career path for me, led to a lot of stress, but this was good stress! I have always tried to find the good in a hard situation, and this was a new beginning in a positive direction.

As life began to find its groove, I noticed I wasn’t feeling well. At first, I chalked it up to the drastic life changes I was experiencing, but it didn’t get better. I had periods of fatigue, weakness, aches and pains, and sleepless nights. My hands were always cold. I never had the energy to make it through a day and complete things that must be done. I couldn’t keep up with laundry and other household chores, and I gained weight because I didn’t have energy to walk or exercise.

My primary care doctor referred me to rheumatologist, which resulted in a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. I began taking prescriptions medications, with no relief. This continued for five to six years, at which point, I was involved in a horrific motor vehicle accident. The accident resulted in my death for approximately 5 minutes before I could be revived. I spent the next three months in hospitals and rehabilitation. The final diagnosis was traumatic brain injury.

Life became excruciatingly difficult. My soul was as unmoored as a ship churning on a violent sea. But despite feeling like I was living in the eye of the storm, I never lost my sense of direction. My compass was the drive deep inside me which I’d developed as a child—the drive to protect myself and withstand life’s most challenging circumstances. I knew I could harness these obstacles and change the direction of my health and life, I just had to hang on. My life was spared for a reason and my time on earth was not over, but I struggled to understand why. I remembered something a wise person told me: Sometimes we go through things to prepare us to help someone else down the road. I could learn from this, and hopefully, use it to help another person in the future.

More Medical Challenges

Despite my hopeful outlook, life continued to knock me down. I developed a tumor on my thyroid gland, and my thyroid was surgically removed. The next spring at my yearly mammogram something suspicious was detected, but even after a biopsy, there was no definitive conclusion. Due to the area of the mass and where it had spread, I received care from the high-risk breast cancer clinic and had a partial mastectomy on my right breast. The pathology from the surgical specimen was benign, but due to additional suspicious areas, I was watched more closely.

In 2015, I had left knee replacement surgery, but the upper hardware was placed sideways, and the result was massive swelling and pain. Not recognizing that my mis-treated knee was the problem, my rheumatologist prescribed stronger RA meds, including biologics, powerful and often unpredictable drugs made from living organisms. During a follow-up appointment with the rheumatologist, he finally noticed the swelling in the left knee and referred me for a second opinion. The new doctor easily found the problem with a single X-ray, and I underwent a revision surgery on my knee. After extensive physical therapy and a long healing process, I had no pain, and my knee was normal.

But, unfortunately, my health woes weren’t over yet. In 2019, I had four hospital stays due to extreme constipation, high blood calcium levels, and feeling the end of my life was near. After extensive testing I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a disease in which inflammatory cells collect and form lumps in multiple body parts like the lungs, lymph nodes and skin. The physician who cared for me during this process explained how the biologics prescribed for the RA probably contributed to the sarcoidosis.

I knew I couldn’t change the cards life dealt me, but it was now that I decided to change how the hand was played. My brain power kicked in, and my strength felt like ropes of steel girding my limbs.

Although it seemed throughout my childhood the odds were stacked against me, my faith held strong and my perseverance and self-protection kicked in once again.

Second Chance Miracle

During my down time I began to research what changes I could make to overcome my health issues. One thing kept popping up in my reading—autoimmune conditions and the role they play in your body. I discovered functional medicine and Palmer Kippola’s book, Beat Autoimmune.  I ordered her book immediately, read it thoroughly multiple times, and scheduled an appointment with a Functional Medicine doctor.

Determined to get well, I began following the recommended protocols in Beat Autoimmune, including a food elimination diet, or as Palmer calls it, a “30-day food vacation,” gut healing supplements, and eliminating the biologic rheumatoid arthritis medicines. Through the process, I learned what root causes trigger my illness and symptoms: stress, gluten, and the traumatic brain injury. With this knowledge I focused on healing to the best of my ability. I started walking, enjoying the outdoors, meditating, prioritizing periods of focused breathing, and being conscience of what food, beverages, and medications I put into my body.

I fully embraced my healing journey, and the results have been amazing! 2020 has been exciting in many ways. My annual wellness check-up and bloodwork showed everything within normal ranges; extensive rheumatology blood work done by a new RA doctor revealed ZERO autoimmune markers; and I am no longer in the high-risk breast cancer clinic. At the follow-up appointment with the new rheumatologist, she laughed and asked why I was there because my bloodwork was so good! I feel better, sleep better, and I have more energy.

Laura enjoying boating on a camping trip

I am proof that taking control of your health, making wise food and life choices, and following recommendations from Palmer Kippola and Beat Autoimmune can improve your life. It’s a message I plan to keep shouting from the mountaintops!

Today, I enjoy life to the fullest. I wake up every morning and thank God for another day to live to the best of my ability. I spend time doing the things I love with the people I love. My recovery has astounded my family. When it seemed my life was over, they grieved and made plans to move forward. Now, as a family we are grateful for each minute we have together.

Laura happy to be surrounded by her family

If you’re struggling like I was, please don’t give up, even if life has knocked you down again and again. Live each minute as if it were your last, be kind, and be grateful. My motto is, “If I don’t take care of myself, someone else will have to take care of me,” and I won’t let that happen, as long as I can protect my health.

Laura: Before and after healing

Laura’s 5 Suggestions for Healing

  1. To heal you need to find and address your personal root causes. Medication only addresses symptoms and may create more harm than good.
  2. Eliminate toxins—no preservatives, artificial ingredients, artificial colors, pesticides, etc.
  3. Set boundaries in your relationships and eliminate negative and toxic people from your life.
  4. Relax, read, listen to music, meditate, and practice deep breathing sessions during the day.
  5. Rest! Get plenty of deep sleep.
Laura’s favorite place to relax, meditate and regain her calm is the beach

What can you learn from Laura’s resilience? Do you have a motto for healing or living your best life?

Take good care!