First, this blog post is not clickbait but is a genuine testimony about how the fast I did one year ago has changed the trajectory of my life. Before I get into the specifics, I will take you back to the beginning. In the Fall of 2011, I started to feel tremendous pain in my right arm. It wasn’t the kind of pain that hurt to touch, but rather a shooting pain that radiated from my shoulder down to the tips of my fingers. The pain had gotten so bad that even the Motrin I took every 4-6 hours couldn’t help to relieve it. To my shame, it wasn’t until the ring finger on my right hand started to cramp up in pain that I scheduled an appointment to see my family doctor. After securing a last-minute appointment, the nurse practitioner I saw in my doctor’s office confirmed, without a doubt, that I had a pinched nerve somewhere in my neck that was causing the nerve pain I was experiencing in my arm. She went on to say that she’s seen this condition before with patients who exhibit lousy posture when using their cell phones, and it causes a strain on their vertebrates. It made sense, right? My prescription: Some serious pain pills, muscle relaxers, and physical therapy. My symptoms diminished a bit. Fast forward about six weeks post my visit, the pain returned with a vengeance! This time, instead of my right arm crippled by shooting burning pain, this same sensation moved down my right leg, then up my left leg and arm, around my ears, above my eyelids, and on top of my upper lip. I felt like my body was under attack. Frantically, I went back to my doctor’s office to understand what was happening to me and to get a prescription for more medication since it seemed to help. This time the doctor was able to see me, and she had a different prognosis. “Multiple sclerosis?” I asked. “I am not 100% sure, but based on your symptoms, it sounds most likely,” she confirmed. I was scared. I was disappointed. I was worried that this disease would rob my life. To make a very long story short, after months and months of doctors appointments with my Neurologist, Rhuemtoligist, blood work, MRIs (with and without contrast), electromyography, etc. I was finally diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome—a systemic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. My primary symptom is peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy, as defined by the John Hopkins Sjögren’s Center, can cause various symptoms, from “numbness” to “coldness”; in its most severe, neuropathy has been described as “burning,” “lancinating” or “feeling like my skin is on fire.” Neuropathy can also cause weakness and clumsiness. Yes, I was misdiagnosed twice. I was put on a daily prescription of Gabapentin (at a whopping 3,600 mg per day) to navigate the physical warfare my body was under daily. This medication was still a better choice than undergoing a more risky steroid treatment—especially while pregnant with my 3rd child, Amara.
Eleven years later, after much persuasion from one of my best friends, I chose to do the Daniel Fast along with others who were fasting for the new year within my church community. The fast is based on a story in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 1:6-20). It involves consuming a strict plant-based diet for 10–21 days. It is not a diet or a weight-loss detox but more an opportunity to humble yourself, grow deeper in your relationship with God, and seek clarity in all circumstances. Despite some known food sensitivities and news I found about how Venus Williams was able to manage her Sjögren’s on a raw vegan diet, my stubbornness kept me from making the changes in my regimen needed to take control of this condition. After the 21-day Daniel Fast, I felt so much better that I could scale back on my meds, and within months, I was ultimately off my medication! I prayed earnestly for God to heal me from the disease, and He did in a way that I thought would be lost to me forever. I needed a little structure and a little faith.
As I am fasting in this new season. God reminds me that He can move powerfully if we have a little structure and faith, even we only have a mustard seed-sized faith (Matthew 17:20 NIV).
It’s been almost a year, and I am still 100% off my medication. Praise God! There is no cure for autoimmune diseases. I still have the disease, but it doesn’t rule over me. I have days when I don’t feel great, usually because of something I ate or just plainly not taking better care of myself. Low stress, good rest, and moderate exercise keep me in the safe zone, but those things are not easily obtained at this stage in my life. But I’m working on it. Why did I share all of this? I definitely did not think to write this much on this topic, but retelling this testimony brought out a lot of emotion. Through fasting and prayer, God was able to help me through one of the most challenging areas of my life. Stubbornly I thought that my fate was sealed and was prepared to continue down the medical treatment plan I was on— no matter how damaging. I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t take medication. I am not a doctor. I am NOT saying that the Daniel Fast will make all your dreams come true. I am not God. I am NOT saying the Daniel Fast is the only way to fast and pray. I AM saying fasting and praying will help you move out of your way and hear God clearer. I AM saying that your body is a temple, and you need to take better care of it. I AM saying to give fasting and prayer a try. I pray that this post encourages someone. The power of testimony is that it spurs others to cultivate a faith that believes God can move in our lives based on sharing our experiences about Him. Keep the faith, family! Love, Dominique