2018 Conference Patient Story

It’s all in the data: My journey with integrative medicine

Like many patients, my chronic illness journey has been an ever-evolving experience. While I didn’t realize it then, my battle with autoimmune diseases began very early on in my life. At seven years old, I was diagnosed with psoriasis, which caused red, flaky spots to appear all over my skin, it looked like I had chicken pox that just wouldn’t go away.

I was constantly cycling through different treatments — UV light ray therapy, topical steroids, tea tree oil…you name it, I tried it. As a child and teen, it was difficult to explain to others that it was not contagious and it often made me feel self-conscious. Little did I know, things were going to get much worse.

Fast forward 12 years, and at age 19 I was lying in a hospital bed with two more autoimmune diagnoses in my chart. The psoriatic arthritis attacked every joint in my body and was so painful that I could barely turn over in my bed without high levels of agonizing discomfort. The Crohn’s disease left me with bleeding ulcers in my small intestine so severe I couldn’t drink water without crying out that on a scale from 1-10, my pain was a 20.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried and failed a cocktail of different medications, but I finally found a biologic that works to treat my psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. Modern medicine is pretty remarkable!

While this medication has granted me the gift of medically controlled remission for the past 4 years, throughout this time I have also been diligent about transforming my diet and lifestyle. I am a firm believer in the intersection of western and eastern medicine, and for me personally have found the combo works wonders.

Since my dual diagnoses, I have flirted with diet changes via my own research on “Dr. Google” and a few trips to a nutritionist. While it certainly helped me see improvement in symptoms, I ultimately wasn’t getting a handle on the big picture and what really works for best for me.

Personalized medicine is all the rage…so it begs the question. Why not get personal when it comes to diet and lifestyle changes?

There are so many diets out there…paleo, vegan, vegetarian, mediterranean, the list is endless. But when it comes to chronic illness, as evidenced by the way every patient responds differently to medication, there really never is a one size fits all approach when it comes to diet.

That’s why I was blown away when I was introduced to Mette Dyhrberg, fellow autoimmune warrior and founder of Mymee, a digital health company transforming the way we support patients in making diet and lifestyle changes.

When I first started with Mette, I told her I didn’t know how great of a case study I would be. I am so well controlled by my medicine (yay!) that I didn’t show too many symptoms. She told me to download the app and start tracking and we could take it from there.

Boy, was I wrong! Once we started tracking, I realized I was actually living every day with underlying symptoms, from joint pain in my knees to poor digestion.

Mette’s approach is brilliant. For starters, you don’t have to go through an elimination diet (typically the gold standard patients are prescribed when they are sent to a nutritionist). Let’s face it, elimination diets are a tall task to ask of any human who loves to eat (and who doesn’t love to eat?!) Instead of eliminating everything at once, we have tweaked my diet little by little over time and kept a close eye on the impact through tracking on the Mymee app.

Mymee isn’t a guess and check process. It’s calculated. Mette and her fellow health coaches go where the numbers tell them to. It’s all in the data.

Shortly after beginning, we cut out gluten and dairy. The data told us everything we needed to know. If you were to look at my chart, you would see a steep drop in the number of joint pain instances I tracked every day after I made this change.

And it’s not just about taking things away, we’ve added supplements that are customized to what my body requires. And this now includes my new favorite part of the day…epsom salt baths to soak up magnesium. Magnesium helps our bodies better absorb essential minerals and nutrients. And as a psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis patient, Mette has found that we absorb this better through the skin than in pill form. So bath time it is!

These are only a few examples of the changes I’ve made in my diet and lifestyle, and as I am still enrolled in the program, I expect there are many more to come. We are tweaking and tinkering until we get my daily symptoms down to ZERO (or close to it)!

When I found out Mette was presenting at the #WTFix Conference, all I could think about was how this was a match made in heaven. #WTFix is all about people taking control of their own health and kicking the hell out of healthcare to transform our broken system. Mette and Mymee are the epitome of this concept. Mette used this very process to help put her autoimmune diseases into remission and now she is giving back and working with fellow patients to help them take charge of their own health too in an innovative, approachable way.

I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with Mymee and be at the forefront of this new era of integrative medicine. I hope you’ll register for the #WTFix conference on May 17th so that you can hear from Mette and other brilliant minds who are pushing the envelope and transforming healthcare.