How alternative therapies defied a long term medical prognosis
Four years ago, Susie James had chronic pain in her arms, hands, knees and feet; any movement was extremely painful; walking was problematic. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and presented with a bleak outlook by her rheumatologist; life-long medication to control her symptoms.
But last weekend, 58 year old Susie ran the London Marathon alongside celebrity DJ Chris Evans, fuelled with an inner energy she had never experienced. A stark contrast to barely being able to shuffle around her own home.
Despite the medical advice from her consultant, Susie decided to look at alternative therapies for her condition. A friend recommended she booked a one-to-one session with Matt Pepper; a practitioner who addressed underlying mental and emotional factors to improve wellbeing, along with prescribing a tailored set of homeopathic remedies to help the body and mind self-heal.
Susie said: “The doctors were very keen and persuasive that I took medication and even though I was at my most vulnerable and perhaps could have been persuaded into medication, for some reason I didn't want to do that. My dad was a GP so I'm not completely anti-medication, but I thought there may be another way, but I really didn't know what that was. I didn't want to start taking something - being on that lifelong path just didn't seem like the right thing.”
“I’d hit some real lows. Points where I thought this was ‘it’, that there was going to be no change, that this was going to be something that was going to get worse, and I’d have to just live with it. But I didn’t want to look weak, I was bringing up kids as a single mum - I didn’t really ask for help or talk about how I was struggling. Side effects can be extreme fatigue and depression. It was a bit of a shock as I'd always been a strong person, an entrepreneur so that didn't go well with my own self image.”
But as she started visiting Matt she remembers how the pain started to lift: “When I met him, he instilled something that maybe woke up a little spark inside me, it made me feel that there's hope. Something about his manner and belief in the ability to heal from the inside. I remember getting off the sofa to go and make his tea and could hardly walk, my feet were agony. And I would be saying, "Yeah my elbow hurts, my shoulder hurts, and my knees hurt today." There would be different outbreaks of joint pain, in different areas of my body, which seem to flair up. Which are very common symptoms of RA.”
“We chatted about different life situations and how I saw them. I thought I had good self-awareness but I started to realise that there was disconnect between how I felt on the inside and what I was trying to maintain on the outside. So as the story unfolded, and started to be expressed, it released a little bit of the pressure in myself. And so, it seems the pain started to subside.”
“He’d prescribe homeopathic remedies to help with improving how I felt and over time I began to lose my fear of expressing myself and was starting to become more authentic about how I felt emotionally, or what was going on in my life.”
Gradually Susie felt motivated to start exercising again and her creativity and energy started to flow. Six months later she went back to see her consultant: “The last time I had seen him he was just about to go to one of the biggest rheumatologist conferences in the world as one of the lead speakers - and there I was arguing against his medical advice. But I have it in writing that when I then went for my check-up, he wrote back saying, "Well, the results were pretty good, actually. And I am happy for you to continue with alternative remedies for your situation." And he had to admit that whatever I was doing was working. I’m now pain free and not on any medications all all.
Last weekend she ran her first ever marathon in 5hrs.26: “I wouldn't even have watched the marathon let alone take part in one! But I had bid for a place on the Children in Need auction with Chris Evans - and it was absolutely incredible! I beamed the whole way round. I was smiling the whole way, even when it got really, really tough…it was just the most spectacular experience.”
“I'm a million, million, million times happier. I feel really alive! To think that I've got this medal for running the marathon. It’s made me look at myself totally differently. It’s about me tackling things from lots of angles; my emotional health, being authentic, being me, reducing stress levels and finding more happiness…the whole lot. I’ve learnt it’s about the whole person and not just the symptoms.”