Sure, he’s still sleepy. He’s clumsy, a little disoriented, his dreams shredding away in slow motion as he stretches his limbs and carefully uncurls his long, spiky tail, which he switches back and forth like a cat when he’s alert and hunting.
He has outrageous morning breath. Dragon-breath. It burns.
The Dragon yawns like a cavern. Snaps his jaws closed. A hot bolt flashes through my knee, causing me to cry out in pain and surprise. Then, just like that, the pain is gone. I flex the joint, shake my head and go about my business. I soon forget the incident. But down in the basement of my mind, in a battered trunk closed tight with a big padlock, a memory twitches. Once upon a time, a long time ago, I’d have felt that pain, shrugged, and blithely gone on my way, unaware of the danger ahead.
Not any more. The padlock clicks open and the memories fly out. See, I’ve been this way before. Here there be dragons.
Am I childish, giving my rheumatoid arthritis a shape, form and personality, however imaginary? Maybe I am. But it helps me cope with the fear that crawled out of the trunk along with that old memory. It reduces this huge, incurable, dreadfully painful and disabling disease into a monster of more reasonable, less frightening proportions.
See, dragons aren’t nearly as scary.
Today, when the Rheuma Dragon bites, I’m ready. I’m wearing a fine, strong coat of mail; it’s rings are made of interwoven leflunomide, plaquenil and sulfasalazine. Over my mail I wear the bright, hardened armor of knowledge. My sword is sharp, light and strong, forged in the fire of hard-won experience. My spirits are high. My face and body are streaked with the magic blue woad of hope, mixed liberally with laughter. There is no better weapon against my Dragon than this. It’s my first defense—and my last. It gives him pause.
I know the Dragon can hurt me. He can dent my armor with his thick, sharp claws and wicked teeth, but he cannot overcome me. Armed as I am, I can strike back at him, weaken him, make him hurt so that he creeps away for a time to lick his wounds. And while he’s gone, I recover, too. I grow stronger. I learn from each battle. I look for new weapons.
And laughing, I prepare for the next fight. Because here there be dragons.
Wonderful metaphor! Love it!
What a wonderful, and wonderfully written post. Thank you.
I’m sorry Wren. I can only imagine how scary those creeping symptoms must be. You certainly seem like you’re not going down without a fight. We’re all with you!!
Yes, guided imagery & visualization help! Drugs, knowledge, and humor all help when fighting with this animal. Though sometimes I think of mine more as kudzu … or whatever that stupid vine is that keeps coming back again. – Teri
No, it’s not childish what you do, it’s courageous. Stay afloat.
Sending you an extra lance to throw the dragon’s way!
A Key to Solving Auto-Immune Diseases Like Rheumatoid Arthritis
I happened onto your site because I have been looking for a dragon design for a tattoo. But the design is not easy to find because it has to fit an imagine I saw during a meditation 12 years ago that I will never forget. I saw your image of a dragon and I wanted a closer look because it is closer then most I have seen. Then I saw your story so I left an article I wrote sometime back that may give you some insight into what you are experiencing.
A Thomsonian Naturopathic Doctor’s View of a Common Sense Way Out of the Autoimmune Disease Mess
I am a Thomsonian Naturopathic doctor and follower of Dr Samuel Thomson (the founder 1822). He believed that all diseases are actually simple to explain, and that the more you complicate disease and medical techniques the more people are removed from the healing process. One of the results is what you see today in these auto-immune disease epidemic nightmares.
When I was studying autoimmune diseases in 2004 there were sixty-five of them and everyone was shocked at the high number. Sadly, these diseases have nearly tripled in that short period of time and today I believe the number is close to 150. But this is not the true number as anyone of those autoimmune diseases can have any number of sub-diseases with their own symptoms. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for example, has about 100 sub-diseases. So really there are so many new autoimmune diseases that some have not even gotten a name yet, amazing isn’t it?
Autoimmune diseases like RA are a disease where your immune system does not recognize you and attacks you as though some part of you were a foreign substance. Here is a comparison that shows just how crazy this really is. Imagine, that in your city one day for no apparent reason the police department starts shooting at the employees of the water department. Until this problem is solved your city is turned on its head, that is how crazy autoimmune diseases really are.
Modern medicine does not understand the cause of even one of these hundreds of crazy diseases but they say they have an answer. And modern medicine’s answer seems like a good idea, suppress or control the immune system. But wait a minute that is like answering your city’s problem by taking away the policeman’s guns or their right to arrest. This is unrealistic; because your immune system like the police have a vital service to perform protecting you.
Suppressing your immune system may be a temporary emergency answer, but long term it leads to other disease issues. Shouldn’t the realistic solution be to find out why your immune system is attacking you in the first place, why the confusion?
Let me see if I can make something clear for everyone so it is easier to understand. “When each cell is created by your body it gets an identifying signature a code that says it is part of you and do not attack me. You might say it is like the license plate on your car; that makes sense right? Well, when your immune system senses this code it automatically knows that this is you and do not attack.” Modern medical science calls this code a major
histocompatibility complex (MHC).
As long as you have been alive your immune system has checked each of the trillions of cells in your body two times a day. The autoimmune disease question is why, after checking the identification of your cells successfully all your life, does your immune system suddenly attack your friendly cells? What has happened to those cells of your body such as those in your joints that now invite your immune system to attack you causing RA?
Naturopaths like myself, believe that RA and all other autoimmune diseases are a symptom of a modern lifestyle and genetic weaknesses. If you look for a pill or operation to suppress your immune system to make the pain disappear you may find one. But that will never stop your immune system from attacking you. And it will never answer the question, “Why do you have RA or any autoimmune disease in the first place”?
Making the pain or symptoms go away without addressing the underlying root of the immune confusion will also give your body cause and effect to bring you another autoimmune disease. Which has proven to be the case; someone with an auto-immune disease on medication tends to get another auto-immune disease and possibly more. It is like the child’s game where you knock the peg down with a hammer and another one pops up. That is why we have so many diseases and so many medications but zero cures, have you noticed that?
The person with an autoimmune disease will always be susceptible there is no real complete cure. But we believe that they can correct the immune system to stop it from attacking. What is needed to prevent the immune system from making these errors? Eliminate from the body those things that are causing the immunity confusion. These are things that never have and never will be naturally accepted or beneficial to the human body or mind.
Objective Autoimmune Disease Causes
There are combinations of toxins in everyone’s bodies today that have never been there in all of human history. Our bodies were never designed to carry them nor do we have any use for them. Some of them are objectively toxic in nature like the heavy metals aluminum, cadmium, lead, mercury and thallium. Then you have the industrial chemicals that include hydrazine, herbicides, preservatives, dyes, plastics, bisphenol A and rubber products that are released in the environment and they number somewhere close to 85,000 thanks to the EPA and the FDA.
Notes (In 2005, researchers from the Environmental Working Group found something very frightening: a cocktail of 287 pollutants – PFOA’s, pesticides, dioxins, flame retardants — in the fetal-cord blood of newborn infants from around the country).
(Females retain methyl mercury 2:1 over males. It accumulates in the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and every major organ, as well as the body at large. They may well do the same for these other biotoxins.)
Medical Drugs That Can Cause Autoimmune Diseases
It has been known for some time that medical drugs can trigger an autoimmune disease. Now it has been found that many medical drugs are the direct cause of various autoimmune diseases. Below is a partial list of just some of the medicines involved in the autoimmune disease epidemic? “If a medical drug you are on or have been on is not listed, do some research check the side effects, etc?”
The Prescription Drugs
Alferon N, Allopurinol, Atenolol, Atorvastatin, captopril, Carbamazepine, chlorpromazine, Chlorthalidone, cimetidine, Ethosuximide, gold salts, griseofulvin, Hydralazine, Hydrochlorothiazide, Infergen, Inerferon Alfa, Interferons, Interleukins, Intron A, Isoniazid, Levodopa, Lithium, Lovastatin, Mesantoin, Methimazole, Methyldopa, Methylsergide, Metoprolol, Minocycline, Minoxidil, Nitrofurantoin, Ophthalmic timolol, Oral contraceptives, P-aminobenzoic, PegIntron, Penicillamine, Penicillin, Perphenazine, Phenylbutazone, Phenytoin, Pravostatin, Primidone, Procainamide, Propylthiouracil, Quinidine, Simvastatin, sulfasalazine, sulfonamides, streptomycin, Sulfonamide antimicrobials, Tetracyclines, Tiotropium Bromide inhaler, Trimethadione, Tumor Necrosis factor, Valproic acid.
Why would a medical drug that you take for your health cause you to become sick? Basically medicine is not made to help you to become healthier. Medical drugs are developed to suppress your symptoms. Would you ever take a pharmaceutical drug to feel healthier as you would a vitamin or herbal supplement?
Mercury in Medicine and Vaccines
Of course everyone knows the dangers of mercury, but modern medicine insists on putting mercury in just about everything they give us and the FDA allows them to, why? Because mercury is cheap and it works to suppress your symptoms or stimulate your immunity even though over the long haul it poisons us all. How dangerous is mercury? It is the second most dangerous element on the planet next to plutonium. Yet mercury is even found in most adult vaccines (such as annual flu shots and most vaccines) and over the counter medical drugs (OCMD) such as topical antiseptics, stimulant laxatives, diaper rash ointments (yes for babies), eye drops, nose sprays, Preparation H, Calomel body powders and talc, Mercurochrome, Merthiolate, Laxatives containing Calomel, Psoriasis ointments, Calamine lotions, Contact lens solutions and Vaginal gels – especially those that are contraceptives. And of course mercury is highly suspect as a cause in all these new autoimmune diseases and even in the alteration of our children’s behavior such as ADD, ADHD and Autism. Easy to see why we have health problems, isn’t it?
Why is the FDA afraid to do what is right and pull mercury out of all of these products? Because the use of mercury is so cheap and pervasive across the board in the prescription drug industry. And the drug industry wants to leave it that way even if we are being poisoned.
One Agency of Our Government Admitted This was True.
What the United States National Institutes of Health Clinical Center says I think dovetails almost exactly some of what we have been saying here. “The causes of these diseases are unknown but they are thought to occur in genetically susceptible individuals after exposure to selected environmental agents.”
“Lawsuit to Force FDA to Comply With Law and Ban Mercury” (News of the Day 11/13/2006)
The lawsuit, originally filed in August 2006, asks the court to force the FDA to comply with existing law and regulations and provide proof of the safety and efficacy of mercury in drugs. The suit was filed because the FDA failed to answer issues raised.
Mercury is found in at least 45 different prescribed or over-the-counter drugs, including eye ointments, nasal sprays, and vaccines, most importantly, flu vaccines administered to children and pregnant women.
In a 1999 internal email, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, an FDA official wrote that the agency’s failure to evaluate the cumulative amount of mercury in medicine “…will raise questions about FDA being ‘asleep at the switch’ for decades by allowing a potentially hazardous compound to remain…and not forcing manufacturers to exclude it from new products….”
In a second email, the same official wrote: “…the greatest point of vulnerability on this issue is that the systematic review…by the FDA could have been done years ago and on an ongoing basis.”
In a letter by FDA Acting Assistant Commissioner for Policy Jeffrey Shuren, denying the CoMeD petition, the “admission that the FDA had no substantive evidence confirming the safety of mercury in medicine was stunning,” stated CoMeD.
Citizen Filed Petition, Aug 4, 2004, by CoMeD representatives
FDA Sued Over Mercury in Medicines, News of the Day, 11/13/2006
Subjective Autoimmune Disease Causes
Would you be surprised to learn that something subjective like losing a loved one or getting a divorce can trigger an autoimmune disease. Yes, it is true that just getting over stressed at work or having a poor spiritual base can be dangerous to your mercury laden body triggering an autoimmune disease. To eliminate these and others you need to address the whole person which takes work and willingness on the part of the patient. When I was sick I found this area of my naturopathic treatment to be a tough one to work on.
Your Genetic Weaknesses and Autoimmune Diseases
The genetic connection to autoimmune diseases are well established but very few people are aware of the Naturopathic Medical view of genetics and disease. A chain is the perfect object to use as an example of genetic weaknesses. There is a very old saying that goes like this, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. So let’s think about this for a minute, there is no chain that does not have a weak link and that link can be found by exerting enough stress on the chain to break the weakest link. You could also say that any chain can be broken, and it breaks at exactly one link, the weakest one.
Now take this example a step further and imagine each organ in your body alphabetically beginning with your adrenals down to your veins is links in a chain. This chain of organs has a weak genetic link somewhere you just need to apply enough stress through diet, toxicity, stress and lifestyle on the organ chain to find the weak link. This can easy to picture right if you know you have a weak link how would you protect yourself from getting a disease in your joints like RA? The answer is as simple as the cure for all disease should be, do not stress the chain. That is right; simply do not put stress on your genetic chain with your lifestyle.
What about those people whose genetic chain is already broken and their weakness has an autoimmune disease. They need to reverse what they have been doing all their life. By that I mean do exactly the opposite of what they have been doing. This will take the stress off of the weak organ and give it a chance to recover. By doing the opposite I mean cleansing, detoxing, no refined foods, lots of produce, live juices and lifestyle adjustments.
How Can Your Body Help You?
One of the great things about the human body is its ability to recover. And a big part of this recovery process is the replacement of each and every organ and cell in your body over an 8 year period. To take advantage of this process you give your body everything it needs to do this to the optimum level. In other words; treating your body with the best cleansing, detoxing and the most nutritious foods (plant based 70% raw produce), herbs, supplements and lifestyle adjustments to get the most from this building process.
What Can You Do?
Below are the basic Naturopathic Medical avenues for all diseases and their remedies. Disease and ill health attacks you from five different areas of your life. One, what you bring into your body via food, water, air. Two, what is not eliminated; the toxins that build up encouraging the disease to start. Three, a lack of movement and exercise cause poor blood flow encouraging toxic buildup, low oxygen and poor nutrition to cells and an inability to unstress. Four, the stressful people and situations in the work place and at home. Five, a poor spiritual foundation, no belief in higher power.
To defuse auto-immune diseases like RA and bring good health, the above five areas are addressed at the same time with rigorous cleansing, detoxing and lifestyle changes. This is a Naturopathic Medical view of how ill-health and disease begin in this modern world and how to reverse it to become healthy. Few people today realize how intensively healing Naturopathic medical treatments really are. They think of using a few herbs for this and that disease, drinking an herb tea, do a few yoga stretches etc. which is as weak as it sounds.
This is very far from the truth. Naturopathic Medical therapies are intense, invasive and rigorous. Juice fasting, colon, liver and kidney cleansing and detoxing, cold sheet treatments, hydro therapy, blood cleansing using large doses of herbs, caster oil packs etc. All of these treatments plus making permanent changes in your lifestyle and more are part of Naturopathic Medicine’s treatments to undo auto-immune diseases.
I know, I used the above techniques on myself against a life threatening cancer twenty years ago and they wiped my health slate clean as when I was a boy. I walked away disease free and I have been disease free ever since that time. I am 66 now; healthy and strong as a horse with zero diseases and zero medications. This was my payoff for a lot of hard work and permanent changes in my lifestyle.
Evidence for the Role of Environmental Agents in the Initiation or Progression of Autoimmune Conditions, Jonathan J. Powell, Judy Van de Water, and M. Eric Gershwin, Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 107, Supplement 5, October 1999
Kimber I, Bernstein IL, Karol MH, Robinson MK, Sarlo K, Selgrade MJK. Workshop overview: identification of respiratory allergens. Fundam Appl Toxicol 33:1-10 (1996).
Reidenberg MM: The chemical induction of systemic lupus erythematosus and lupus-like illness. Arthritis Rheum 24: 1004-1008. 1981.
Druet P. Berndard A, et al: Immunologically mediated glomerulonephritis induced by heavy metals. Arch Toxicol 50: 187-194. 1982
David Lamont, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, eMedicine, Jan 17, 2006.
Lisa Kauffman, Lupus Erythematosus, Drug-Induced, eMedicine, Feb 5, 2006.
Robert Rubin, Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus, Lupus Foundation of America, Feb 2005.
Drug Induced Lupus and Its Causes, Elaine Moore, Autoimmune Disease Suite 101, Nov 5, 2006
Statins and Autoimmune Diseases, Elaine Moore, Autoimmune Disease Suite 101, April 13, 2007
Hidden Sources of Mercury, by Kitchen Table Medicine, January 10, 2008
Lawsuit Against FDA: Mercury In Medicine, Healthful Tips, March 16th, 2010