Ankylosing Spondylitis

Its now just over three years since I first went to see Atul Shah, Nature Cure Practitioner. I have a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative type of arthritis – with bony fusion at points in my neck and spine, and a forward bend in my posture. I had pain in my spine, neck, shoulders, hips and ribs, as well as at times in different organs, including my eyes (iritis). I was also very deeply exhausted.

Over the course of many years of this condition, I had tried different diets in the hope of improving my health, but felt my diet could be much more effective. I had already made beneficial lifestyle changes and had found a homeopath and a cranial osteopath, to be of great help, as well as practising tai chi and chi kung.

In hearing of Atul Shah’s work, I learned that as well as diet and other Nature Cure practices, he is trained as an osteopath and uses deep tissue spinal massage. Following an initial detailed assessment and consultation, he suggested a diet which is high in nutrition, has a cleansing effect on the system and is unchallenging to the body, so that it can carry out functions like healing and cleansing without undue effort involved in coping with digesting and processing food. I groaned inwardly (and probably outwardly!) at some of what was to be excluded but was content with what he recommended I include. He told me he could not predict accurately the outcome of using Nature Cure, but he felt confident I would feel weller, possibly a lot weller within three to five years. It seemed a bit of a long haul but my instinct was to go ahead.

I started to make changes in my diet and had several treatments to my back during which Atul also discussed diet. The combination was very beneficial. I read the Nature Cure educational pamphlets which he recommended, which encouraged me further although they seemed a little old-fashioned in their tone! I went to seminars where Atul and others discussed in more detail how Nature Cure works and some of the ways it can be used.

Three months after my first visit, I had an acutely painful attack of iritis. This gave me the opportunity to have an intensive focused experience of the use and benefits of the Nature Cure Practices, including a very specific diet. I was able to make a very good recovery with considerable guidance and support from Atul. One morning when I felt close to tears with anxiety about not dealing with my eye by the usual medical route Atul suggested ‘You must decide whether to really trust your own body’s intelligence.’ With blurred vision in reading, and frightened of damage to my sight, I wondered whether I had reached the limits of my trust. Yet I could hear his confidence from the many years of Nature Cure work he has done and the outcomes he has seen. I decided I would go for it, and this was successful. This led to a much fuller awareness of the potential of Nature Cure and commitment to it.

Two years later, I had another opportunity to experience the full benefits of Nature Cure while in an acute localised flare-up. I could not lift my arm more than two or three inches and was having spasm and pain in my shoulder, and initially could not fully dress myself. Medically I was told there was no alternative but to have a steroid injection and that my shoulder may take many months to really improve. Atul gave diet recommendations, very skilled massage treatments which were well negotiated given I was in so much pain, and also recommended the use of hot and cold compresses. I was able to make a good recovery. I was amazed at the effectiveness in pain reduction and healing that was possible through using the compresses. My cranial osteopath, who was also very helpful in this time, also expressed his surprise at the speed of recovery.

Atul’s motto in both the shoulder and the eye problem seemed to be – ‘Why not turn a disease crisis into a healing crisis?’ After each of these phases of intensively using nature cure practices, I felt they had not only dealt with the immediate problem, but I was generally weller and looked healthier, and had lost weight in a positive sense, after each of these flare-ups. Friends looked a bit sceptical when I said I’d been unwell!

Three years later, I feel much weller. I have less pain, much less stiffness, and though still tired, I have lots more energy in a much more reliable way. I have a much greater sense of confidence and resilience about my body. I feel empowered by knowing that I can easily use effective techniques at home when my body is in a flare-up. More importantly, through the ongoing use of the diet and Nature Cure techniques, I have very little tendency to have a flare-up. I feel very grateful to Atul for the very skilled help he has given me in an ongoing way, but especially when I was in very urgent physical difficulty – as well as for being the messenger about Nature Cure. I’m learning about how I can work with my body so that it can function much more effectively. I look forward to discovering what more is possible – the ‘long haul’ I initially thought I might be signing up for is not a journey without effort, but is turning out to be very worthwhile, and quite enjoyable!

Y.E. 18/11/02

Ankylosing Spondylitis Update

During the four years I have seen Atul, I have continued to have routine physiotherapy reviews, and part of this is to check for loss of height. In the course of the disease my height had reduced by four inches. However, in the time I have seen Atul and been using Nature Cure, I have regained one and a half inches, so am taller than I was four years ago. This is a very unexpected outcome which is a delight to me and a surprise both to the physiotherapist and myself!

Y.E. 22/3/04