Katie Jo’s story

My immune challenge and health crisis occurred during my final semester of undergraduate nursing school. I was under a lot of stress with the balance of full-time school and being a full-time single mother. 

I awoke one morning to a painful left eye. The white part of my eye, called the sclera, was streaked red and it was difficult to open the eyelid. Opening my eye would produce pain that made me want to squeeze it shut. I was not able to look at any light sources and my eyes was constantly tearing.

I thought maybe I had scratched the surface of my eyeball, although I had no recollection of doing anything to hurt my eye. I waited a day and had no relief, so I booked an appointment with the eye doctor. At that time I had no health insurance and was a student, but the pain was strong enough to have me pay out of pocket to see an eye specialist. The eye doctor told me that I had a malfunction of the iris. The iris is the colored part of the eye and it is also a muscle in that changes the size of the pupil and allows light to enter the eye. My iris was inflamed.

This condition is called “iritis” or “uveitis.” The doctor treated the condition with two types of eye drops, one was a steroid to treat the local inflammation and the second drop was to force the iris to relax and dilate or open up, so it could return to normal function again.

My eye calmed down and returned to normal and at the follow-up appointment, the eye doctor said that if the circumstances happen again, that I should be tested for autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is often the reason the iris muscle becomes inflamed and stops working. 

Fast forward three years in the future and I was being treated for gastrointestinal issues. I had symptoms of abdominal bloating, excessive flatulence, and extreme thirst. In this process, my iris muscle becomes inflamed again. This time I returned to the eye doctor and had blood work was done that confirmed an autoimmune disease that was contributing to the inflammation of my iris. If I did not treat it properly I could lose vision and go blind in my left eye. I was diagnosed with autoimmune iritis.

I again completed a course of steroids and dilator eye drops that alleviated the symptoms. Upon the completion of the medication, the eye doctor stated “Let’s cross our fingers and hope this never happens again.”

With this second episode of an inflamed iris, I knew that something in my life had to change. At that time I thought I had been living a healthy lifestyle, I was a vegetarian and conscious about making “good” food choices. I knew that I needed support to make a change.

I reached out to the Merritt Wellness Center for support. I desired the functional and holistic medicine that MWC offered. During my treatments, we were able to identify foods and food supplements to prevent my immune system from attacking my eyeball again. 

They also helped me to identify deficits in my diet and learn to love different, nutrient-dense foods, and I stopped being vegetarian. I now eat a vegetable at every meal, even breakfast! I was empowered to learn how to use food-as-medicine along with the tools of Standard Process whole food supplements to regenerate my cells to be healthy and vital. I am happy to say I have my full vision and have not had a recurrence of an inflamed iris in over 5 years now. I feel more vigorous and alive now at almost 40 years old, than I did when I was in my twenties!

My training as a nurse practitioner, my own health challenges, and the health challenges of hundreds of patients has lead me to believe that the tools of conventional medicine such as advanced diagnostic lab work and imaging, combined with food, herbs, and supplements are able to bring regeneration and renewal. This is my commitment to my patients — that we work in collaboration with their healthcare providers to find the root of their issues, and treat the source of the problem, not just the symptoms.