I first noticed that something peculiar was happening to my body in January of 1999. At the time I was exercising on a regular basis using weights and performing other physical activities. Up to that period of time I was achieving moderate success in gaining strength, flexibility and speed. As the month of January progressed I noticed that my strength in weights declined and I felt more tired than usual. I was unsure what was happening and my doctor could provide no answers as well. Although I knew something was wrong I continued on my regular routine thinking that this odd occurrence might just pass. In the early fall of 1999 I began to notice that dark plaque like spots were making their way onto my thighs, hips and neck. As more of these plaques appeared I grew worried. In December of 1999, a dermatologist performed a biopsy on my thigh. The diagnosis was Morphea, a localized version of Scleroderma.
At the time, I was eighteen years old, in my senior year of high school and more upset that I was losing strength rather than being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I didn’t even know what an autoimmune disease was or what the word chronic meant. My main concerns were: why am I weak, can I die from this disease and if I can’t die when will I get better? I was happy to find out that Morphea does not kill yet I was upset to find out that I could not be given any definite answers for when I was to get better. The doctors who were involved in my care could not realize why I was losing strength since this was not consistent with Morphea and so a muscle biopsy was performed on one of my calve muscles in January of 2000. The biopsy confirmed that I had eosinophilic fasciitis, a condition in which the fascia becomes inflamed. I was made aware that the fasciitis was the likely culprit behind my weakness. Although they could not tell me when I would get better, they recommended some medicine for me to take. I had never been too fond of medicines, yet my parents and I felt like it might be my best chance towards getting better. For a little over a year I was on prednisone, and in May of 2001 a muscle biopsy was performed at UCLA, this time on my thigh. No fasciitis was found in the biopsy. I was told that this does not mean the fascitis was completely gone because it can be present in some areas and not in others yet it was most likely that my fascia had improved. By this time I had been told that Morphea usually lasts between 2 to 5 years and it would most likely burn out soon. The plaques had continued to grow by this time, spreading all over my thighs and other areas yet I had adapted to my new lifestyle and I was not in too much pain. My main problems were cramps in my muscles, nothing consistent with stereotypical scleroderma. I had decided to stay off medications and hope that my health problems would soon end.
I continued to live my life by going to school and working. After returning home from a trip to the U.K. and Ireland in June of 2002, I got sick and it was discovered that my platelets dropped. I was monitored for a few weeks and eventually my platelets returned to normal on their own. My doctor decided to have blood tests performed every month just to be careful. In January of 2003, I was hospitalized with a staph infection. During this time my white count dropped to a low level and my neutrophils were dangerously low. I was in and out of the hospital for the next two and a
half weeks. By this time I realized that my body was in serious trouble and it was no longer just Morphea. Over the last three years I had lost twenty pounds
and my body was tattooed with these thick legions, which covered my feet, thighs torso, chest, arms, wrists and hands. My hands had become affected to a degree in which performing normal tasks was a problem. This was a wake up call for me. In the following months, I began to lose flexibility in my wrists and fingers. Holding drinking glasses became difficult and bathing was no longer easy but a chore. My doctors became concerned that perhaps the disease had internalized yet this was said to be rare. I was not too worried about it internalizing yet as time wore on, I watched my body deteriorate.
Over the next few years I began to search for answers on how I could heal. After I was released from the hospital, I was treated by a doctor at UCLA for about a year. During this time I took Methotrexate, Cell Cept and after visiting John Hopkins University in October 2004, I tried PUVA, a type of UV Ray light treatment, which in some cases loosens the skin. None of these treatments worked for me yet I will say that in the case of the PUVA I probably should have given it more than three months. Most conventional medicine therapies struck me as intrusive because of the side effects. This is a common complaint amongst people yet I think we continue to use these medicines because we believe that nothing else is available. After my hospital experience in January, I opened my mind up to the possibility that maybe there were other therapies that could help me while I continued to use Western medicines as well. I experimented with a Chinese Herbalist, dietician, several dietary supplements and biofeedback with a former M.D. Although I learned something from all of these experiences, nothing seemed to strike me as being what I needed. Throughout this time I had communicated with numerous people who had scleroderma, from localized to systemic, who had put their disease into remission. Their stories made me realize that hope did exist yet I wanted to be cured. I had heard of two cases in which people had cured themselves of scleroderma and so I knew it was possible. The idea of being cured, being free from future worries struck me as being the only way I wanted to live my life.
In December of 2004 I received an e-mail from a lady who has put her scleroderma in to a type of remission. She wrote that I needed to check out a website called Dustys Place, in which a woman, Kimberly “Dusty” Leal, claims to have cured herself of scleroderma. Reading that website was probably one of the best days of my life. Since our fist conversation together, Kim and I have communicated weekly or bi weekly. After a long wait, I finally joined the program in July of 2005. I have met all the women who have participated in the therapies and I can say that their results are phenomenal. There are a few things in particular about the program which interest me and that is Kim and Angela’s intent on curing people from scleroderma and their attention to the mind/body connection. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have and I’m ecstatic to be healing.