Chronically Living and how to make the most of it

Family Planning with Autoimmune Disease with Jessica Lorion

January 10, 2022 Kelsey Harris, Jessica Lorion Season 2 Episode 29
Chronically Living and how to make the most of it
Family Planning with Autoimmune Disease with Jessica Lorion
Show Notes Transcript

This week my guest, actress and psoriatic arthritis warrior, Jessica Lorion, and I discuss the idea of having a baby and starting a family when you have an autoimmune disease. This includes some major lifestyle changes Jessica has had to make.
In this episode we talk about:

  • family planning with autoimmune disease
  • the Autoimmune Solutions Diet/AIP diet
  • The "Why" Behind Your Goal

Guest Bio
Jessica has spent the past 10 years as a professional actor and voice over artist in New York City. Now, as the Host and Producer of the Mamas in Training Podcast, she supports pregnant women and aspiring moms on their journey into motherhood.
What makes her show different from other pregnancy and motherhood podcasts is that she is NOT yet a mom. An autoimmune disease has delayed her journey into motherhood and she has decided to learn right alongside her audience.
With a background in performing on stage, in front of camera, as well as being a professional singer, her mission is to spread the importance of studying motherhood. She intends to use her voice and desire to connect with women everywhere, to share the lessons she has learned and give community to those in need.
Check out Jessica's websites: https://www.mamasintraining.com/ and https://jessicalorion.com
Follow Mamas in Training on Instagram @mamasintrainingpod and on Facebook @mamasintraining
Follow Jessica on Instagram @jessicalorion

Follow the show on Instagram @chronically.living_

Support the show on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/chronically_living

Kelsey Harris:

Do you have an autoimmune disease or other chronic illness, but you also want to start a family? Have you wondered about how to make this happen or if you've been can, my guest this week is Jessica Lorion, an actress and Mama in training who's decided to make some lifestyle changes, including the AIP diet in order to get herself in a better place physically with her psoriatic arthritis, so that she can start a family. So let's get right into this week's episode of chronically living. I'm Kelsey Harris, chronic illness warrior and psychotherapist on chronically living and how to make the most of it, we're providing tangible ways to improve the well being of spoonies. So get ready to make the most out of your life even with that pesky chronic illness.

Jessica Lorion:

My name is Jessica. I'm originally from Massachusetts, south of Boston, north of Providence. But now I live in New York City, just outside of the city and queens and I work in the city. So basically, now a New Yorker, I guess, officially since I've been here for 13 years. I think when you've lived here for 10, you can call yourself a New Yorker. So yeah, I live in New York City. And I'm an actor, and podcast host. And I do a bunch of other things as little side jobs and you know, other passion projects. But those are my two main passions at the moment.

Kelsey Harris:

I always like to have my guests share their stories and health journeys, as I call them, before we get into the meat and potatoes of the episodes. But before we even get into Jessica's, she had some great opening messages to share with us.

Jessica Lorion:

I think hearing other people's stories is really empowering. And I one thing I wanted to say before we start to his I love how you call it chronically living, because there's the positive side to you know, I don't know if anyone here is a fan of Tony Robbins. But Tony Robbins often talks about, like the words that we use in the importance of the words that we use, and how, you know, if you are a recovering alcoholic, and you're saying that you're a recovering alcoholic, you will always be recovering. And so I think it kind of plays into this same realm of I have an autoimmune disease. So if I have a chronic illness, and I have an autoimmune disease, I will always be the sufferer of that, you know, but the way that you frame it chronically living, it's for the positive. And it's the way that we can kind of overcome these things. First of all, I just wanted to say, I think that's so cool. And thank you for for reframing it that way. Yeah.

Kelsey Harris:

And that is the idea of the show, reframing our experience. So I think, Jessica for pointing that out. And without further ado, here's her health journey,

Jessica Lorion:

my health journey really took a hard toll and turn back in 2011. And my whole life, I've pretty much been extremely healthy. Always had really good skin never had even acne. And I was at a place in my life that I guess, looking back, I didn't think that I was very stressed out. But I think subconsciously, I was dealing with a lot of stress. So I was at the moment, auditioning for a lot of really big opportunities, had a lot of things up in the air. I was grinding, as they say, as in the actor world here in New York City. And I think what ended up happening, you know, they never really know how certain things like this in the autoimmune disease world really do come to fruition, but I think it was the actual stress that just made it come out. So it started developing as little spots on my body. And honestly, at first I thought it was bug bites. I mean, I thought it was bedbugs. Because you know, I live in New York City, and I was actually subletting an apartment at the time. So I didn't really know she might have bedbugs. But one of my best friends had visited me from Chicago and she was sleeping with me in my bed and we were going to auditions together and living together essentially for like two weeks straight and that she didn't have any of these bites on her. So anyway, fast forward to a year later, and I was pretty much covered head to toe in what I then discovered to be psoriasis. I was then put on biological medication. Because when I was first given a steroidal cream, an ointment to put on the spots. That would help a little by little but then I was completely covered, like completely covered head to toe. Minus my face. Thank goodness, I just had a couple spots on the sides. But other than that, I was covered. And so I said to my dermatologist, I'm putting this ointment on as if it was body lotion, completely covering me and it's a steroid ointment and he's like, No, we need to stop that. So that's when I went on Humira biological medication. And it was pretty much a year to the day after being on humera that I was performing in Los Angeles, I ended up going on a national tour. From from all that stress of the auditions, at least a paid off, I did get a job. And so I was on tour for two years traveling the country having an amazing experience and life and opportunity. But you know, my skin was just outrageous. And one of these times when I was in LA, I started to develop some pain around my ankles and feet. And long story made short with that is my husband actually, then boyfriend visited me at the time. And he had to carry me to the bathroom, when I had to brush my teeth because I was just in so much pain, I couldn't walk. And it was the first time I had to call out of the show I couldn't perform. And it was heartbreaking. And I didn't really know what was going on. I thought it was just from some shoes that I had gotten that are new, some flip flops. And fast forward to like what was that, I guess, six months later or whatnot. At that point, they had completely taken me off of the humera. And the doctors wouldn't necessarily say this, but I would venture to say that it was the Humira that gave me the arthritis, because that's what I ended up getting diagnosed with was arthritis. Now, my actual diagnosis is psoriatic arthritis. And they know that that does come hand in hand. But I just thought it was a little bit strange how I had no arthritic pain until I went on the Humira. And that, of course, is a side effect along with you know, the laundry list of other things. So I was completely taken off of the humor at that point, when I was in so much pain, I had also developed something called vasculitis, which is the swelling of your blood vessels around my ankles and feet. And that was a pain that I can't even express it was absolutely horrifying. And they put me on dapsone and methotrexate. And basically, the dapsone was supposed to handle the vasculitis and the methotrexate was supposed to primarily handle the arthritis, but it would sort of control the psoriasis at the same time. And at this point, my psoriasis was somewhat under control, because I had been on the humera. But it was still back, not full force, but it was still back. But I just had so much pain that that that was really my main priority. Skipping forward then, because of the medications, I ended up being fine. My arthritis ended up as time went on going away. My psoriasis ended up pretty much healing. And now fast forward to 2019 I was living a quote unquote normal life, I was on a full dosage of both medications still. But I was I had no pain and really just slight spotting here and there, you know, common places like my elbows and ankles and things like that.

Kelsey Harris:

Even though the show often focuses on more holistic approaches to treating our illnesses, I really want to point out that medications have a place right. As Jessica mentions her medications really helped her heal. And I think we need to take a moment to remember that that is why we take them they are useful, certainly to a degree. Jessica also share some of her mental health journey with us. And that's available to patrons of chronically living. If you're not a patron yet, you get bonus content for each episode. And it's only $5 a month to help support the show. So if you'd like to do that support the show, just click the link in the show notes. We're gonna get a little more of Jessica's backstory leading up to what she's here to talk to us about today.

Jessica Lorion:

But really where my health took a change. Actually, I should go back quickly and just say to when I was on tour, this was before the arthritis even came and I was just looking for anything to help my psoriasis because, you know, first of all, I was performing, I was wearing costumes and I had my skin just break out. And at one point I was so embarrassed and shameful because my whole team there i from my director to my choreographer to my cast, everyone was unbelievable. But I'll never forget the moment that they said I'm so sorry, just but can you start to put a little bit of medication on your chest because we can notice it from from the house. And I was just like, crap. So you know, I had to start doing that and that was not only uncomfortable but also just have personally mentally hurt. So I was looking for anything that I could possibly do to remedy this, I went on like a an apple diet where I only apples for three days, God knows where I found. But one thing I did discover was that gluten could affect, you know my psoriasis and could make it worse. So I decided to go gluten free. But with that being said, I didn't really go gluten free, like everyone talks about how you go gluten free, but then oftentimes or whatever, free, dairy free, whatever. But then you're often substituting these, you know, other things, these gluten free treats that are still chock full of corn and sugar, and all these other things. So you're technically gluten free, but I wasn't really, really aware of the full on health parameters of being gluten free. So in 2019, after my husband and I had been married for two years, we've now been together 13 years. So we had been together for about 10 At that time, and the conversation of starting a family was kind of coming up and on my medications, I cannot have children whatsoever, I'd have to have an abortion, it's too dangerous for the fetus. So I knew that this journey to get off of medications was ahead. And I knew that I probably should start the journey soon, because it would be a matter of weaning myself off of the medications. And I didn't know how long that was going to take or what would happen. And that's when really I decided to take my health into my own hands and really went on a strict rigid diet and quit, you know, made a plan to really heal myself from the inside out.

Kelsey Harris:

As Jessica mentioned, she wants to start a family. And that can be much more difficult and require a lot more preparation when you have an autoimmune disease. So Jessica started with clean eating.

Jessica Lorion:

Well, when I really decided, like I mentioned in 2019, to make the commitment to really do this, and heal myself truly from the inside out, because my plan, which doesn't have to be everyone's plan. But my plan was I did not want to go on another medication, if at all possible. And I needed to completely be off of the medications that I was on currently. And not only that, but I have to be off of those medications for about six months, give or take before I even start to try to conceive. And the funny part is, is a lot of people are like, Oh, well, oftentimes when you get pregnant, your hormones change. And then you might not even have your psoriasis or your arthritis anymore. And I'm like, Well, that's wonderful. But I got to get to that point, like, there's still this gap of time that I need to wait it out. So for me what worked for me, and it worked really well because I like a plan and a schedule and a list. So I decided to follow a diet called the Dr. Amy Myers auto immune solution diet. And she has a book, the autoimmune solution, I think it's like the autoimmune solution protocol. And then she has a cookbook. And so I first started by reading that, and then I set a date. And luckily, I have a really supportive husband. So he was on board to help me with that too. And it starts off with a 30 day elimination. And so for 30 days, you get rid of a lot, a lot a lot. And you really just narrow down super clean. And then after the 30 days, you start introducing things slowly. And she has a really strong method with how you introduce those things. So say you're introducing this week, night shades, you'll introduce it for three days. And then you'll stop for three days. And you won't introduce the night shade again until you've gone through every category. But you'll make note of what you might have felt or experienced or whatnot, when you added that back in. And so if I didn't see any sort of reaction to my intestines or my, you know, tiredness or my, how I felt or anything. Then at the end of all of the introductions, I added back in the things that did work for me. Or should I say that didn't bother me,

Kelsey Harris:

the autoimmune solution and autoimmune protocol diets like this are really popular. I've never personally done one because you all know by now that I've struggled in the past with that, but I've heard from many others like Jessica that this has worked really well for them.

Jessica Lorion:

So kind of where I've come to now is I'm at a place where I never have gluten. I shouldn't say never. There are some rare occasions But the main thing that you're supposed to not do is ever have gluten ever have dairy. And I try not to ever have like real sugar, real white sugar. So I try to just do honey or maple syrup, or stevia. And then other than that the categories that have worked for me, I've added in so like I have lagoons, kind of every so often, they don't really bother me. I have night shades every so often not too much because of the acidity, but they don't really bother me too much. I have coffee, but I try to limit my coffee intake. So it's kind of like that. There's some things I have some things I don't have. I don't have any oils, like I really only have coconut oil or olive oil. I try not to have like any palm canola, vegetable oil. So I've kind of come to a place where it's livable for me. And I'm happy to say that doing this this way I have now today actually, no tomorrow, tomorrow actually, I thought about it today because I put my pills all in there's spots today. But starting tomorrow, I will be completely off of my one medication, methotrexate, and I will work over the next month to get off of my very last medication. So I've gone down significantly.

Kelsey Harris:

So we recorded this episode a few months ago, actually. And Jessica would probably I guess, now be off of it for a while at this point. So hopefully she can give us an update on Instagram.

Jessica Lorion:

Well, September 2018, I started the diet, January, I kind of got to a place of where I felt like I have a diet that or way of eating I like to say more. So not a diet, but my way of eating, I really did that 2019 And then the pandemic hit. So I in January started lowering my medication. At the time, I was on five pills a week of the methotrexate and dapsone every day. And over time, I slowly slowly have dwindled that down and it took longer because of the pandemic, I lost my insurance and blah, blah, blah and everything. So it's been drawn out. But honestly, in a way, it's probably for the best because knock on wood. As of now I have very, very minimal pain, I've noticed a little bit of sensitivity in my fingers, but very minimal. My skin is really good. And so you know if I can go off this last medication tomorrow, and feel great for the next month and then go off the dapsone completely by what are we in November, December by January, I could be completely off my medication. So yeah, it's possible.

Kelsey Harris:

Like you said, like very little bit of maybe some pain sensations, but not too bad, like, totally manageable is what you're saying.

Jessica Lorion:

Totally manageable. Yeah. And and you know, it's the type of thing like, my one rheumatologist had said, you know, if you start experiencing any pains, then we'll have to put you on another medication. And his initial reason for saying that was inflammation in the body can be really damaging to a fetus, actually more so than even some of these medications. But what I've been doing is really regulating through my blood work and all of that. And so I got all my blood tests done last week, actually, to kind of see where I was at before I went off of these last two meds so that I can then compare in January, you know, and if my inflammation has gone up, or if it stayed or if it's gone down. So I mean, in my opinion, as long as they don't look at my numbers and say like whoa, your blood work level says that there's like a ton of inflammation. I can deal with this a little bit and and like I said, it's very minimal. And as long as like if I can try to regulate my work and not work crazy hours, like I do sometimes, but if I can try to minimize that if I can try to minimize my stress. And if I can try to have my my way of eating, then fingers crossed and positive vibes, I think I can do it without another medication.

Kelsey Harris:

Obviously going off medications is not something we're recommending here. Always consult with your doctors before doing so or doing any you know major changes. It is important that if you are deciding to become pregnant and you have an autoimmune disease, you are doing it as safely as possible for yourself and the baby. And again, your doctor is your best resource for this. This just happens to be the approach Jessica has taken in consultation with her doctors. I do want to point out that changes in eating have come up time and time again as a way to improve your well being with an autoimmune disease. So this is regardless of whether you stay on your medications or go off them. Definitely take a look At some of these are different ways of eating. If you're hesitant to make changes with your eating habits, here's Jessica's advice.

Jessica Lorion:

I think the number one thing. And this is with anything you do in life, but especially with a diet because we use food as social aspect, we use it as a comfort tool, we use it as a healing process. So, and first I will say, I've had great success, but I am not perfect. I definitely have been judged on my pints of Ben and Jerry's every so often. But my my main general way of eating is this way. And I tried to get to the gym and stay active as much as possible. I drink lots of water, you know those few things. So this doesn't mean first of all, going into something like this, I don't think that you can aim for perfection because what even is that? But the number one thing you have to do is find a why? You need a why. And this is what I'm so like preachy about these days, anyone that I talked to, that says Like how did you do this or whatever. And it's still something that I'm dealing with day to day is my why. And my Why is a baby, it's to have a family, and to hold that little baby in my arms. And as I like, if I start to think about it, talk about it too much, I'll just get teary eyed. But that's my why. And so it's literally, like I said, a daily effort. I mean, part of my j-o-b is I work in a hotel, and I do events at this hotel, and like we have a lot of really great food. And we often on these events have something you know, called the candy station, where there's just literally like candy lined up in front of me, and I am serving it and I'm putting it out and I can very easily just like take a couple chunk foals in my hand and swallow them down very easily. So constantly, it's this reminder, I like look at that food. And I'm like, I literally say out loud, my coworkers think I'm crazy. But I literally say out loud. I'm like your devil food, your devil food. And then I say to myself, I'm like, I want a baby, I want a baby. And I'm not saying of course that if I were to eat these things, I couldn't have a baby. I mean, who even knows. But for me, I'm just allowing myself this opportunity to be as clean as I can, so that I can have those things. So for sure, coming up with your why is number one. And even if that's just you know, if you if you just have to lose weight, even if you don't have like, disease or anything like that, but you're just you know, you have to lose weight. Well, yeah, we all could use lose a few pounds, there are some people who could gain a few pounds. But like, Why do you have to do those things? You know, are you an older person who wants to lose that those pounds or get healthier because you want to be around to see your granddaughter or your grandson get married, or you want to just see your grandson or your granddaughter you want to meet that? Or you know, do you have a y that means that you want to travel and so in order to travel like you know, whatever it is, or you want to get married, or you want to whatever this thing is for you. But like really boiling down and coming up with your why honestly, once you have a why and once you've like pictured yourself there. And taking yourself to that point of like, this is a little bit esoteric. But Tony Robbins also talks I'm a fan of his, he also has people go through these exercises of like, I mean, this, this sounds really morbid. But visually taking yourself to that place that you are not around, you have passed and your granddaughter is being born and you're not able to see your daughter or your son's baby be born. And like physically taking yourself to that place so much so that you have a physical response, you cry, you feel, you know, gross, you feel icky, or like for me physically taking me to that place of like the doctor telling me you cannot have children. And like the feeling that I would feel experiencing that. It's like once you've taken yourself to that place, there's no going back, you know, and you've really rooted that why in there so deeply. So that was a really long explanation, but that's what I would say.

Kelsey Harris:

Are you ready for our lightning round questions?

Jessica Lorion:

Oh my gosh, I hope so. Okay. All right. So

Kelsey Harris:

what are the top five songs that describe your life?

Jessica Lorion:

So the first one I have to say is my karaoke song, which I need to get a new song but it's Don't Stop Believin of course from Journey. Another one I would Say is Brave by Sara Bareilles. I won't Give Up Jason Mraz. And I don't know if you're seeing a common theme here, but like I'm seeing a common theme here. When I'm Dancing from Meghan Trainor, and the last one I'll say is, it doesn't really just, well, it does describe me, but it's called Llegaste TuAnd it's from Luis Fonsi. And it was actually our wedding song. But it means basically, like, then you came along, like, then I found you. And that's how I feel a lot with my husband. So

Kelsey Harris:

Aw. I love that. What's one thing you can't go a day without doing?

Jessica Lorion:

Well, my initial thought is coffee. Because I do need to just have a look, even if it's tea, like I need to just have something for me in the morning. But as silly as it sounds, I also have to honestly say like, accomplishing something, even if it's a day off, like in accomplishing something means like, writing down a few things that I'm grateful for in a notebook or something, but I need to just everyday feel like I did something for me.

Kelsey Harris:

That's awesome. Yeah. What's one thing you plan on doing your life that you haven't yet?

Jessica Lorion:

Well, that's easy. Have a baby,

Kelsey Harris:

I knew you were gonna say that.

Jessica Lorion:

For sure, become a mom, for sure.

Kelsey Harris:

Amazing. Describe your perfect day.

Jessica Lorion:

I'm going to describe my perfect future day because I'm going to manifest it into the world. And so my perfect future day is I have my baby at home, I'm able to live at home I'm able to work and live out of my house with my podcast, editing, well, maybe not editing, I'll push that off the side but hosting and creating my podcast with my baby and also acting professionally. So going on set for feature films and also recurring series TV series and things like that and, and being able to do it all from home.

Kelsey Harris:

And how do you inspire others to make the most of their lives?

Jessica Lorion:

Well, it's, it's why I created the Mama's in training podcast and Mama's in training community, it's what I really has, like fed me. And so I decided to start this podcast when I discovered that I'm going to have this waiting period of motherhood. And so I interview women about what they wish they had known before they became pregnant and entered motherhood, so that all of us, Mama's in training can really learn and I can learn right alongside my audience. And so I've built a community. And really, I'm, I'm providing the extra support that women might need to have support community guidance and kind of get those tips that you might not necessarily just get from a book or your doctor. So

Kelsey Harris:

that's great. Awesome. And so where can we find you and follow you then?

Jessica Lorion:

For the podcast? You can find me everywhere. Pretty much Mama's in training, that's with an A so ma ma s. Mama's in training.com Mama's in training a Facebook group, you're more than welcome to join. It's a wonderful community. And on Instagram, it's Mama's in training pod pod. And then personally, you can find me there but also on Jessica Lorien. At Jessica Lorien. On Instagram, Jessica lorien.com. Pretty much everywhere. Jessica Lorina. Mama's in training, and I respond to all my messages, DMS, you can email me info at Mama's in training or info at Jessica lorien.com. And I'd love to hear from anybody and hear your journey as well.

Kelsey Harris:

Thank you so much for coming on. You've been really insightful guests. So I really

Unknown:

Thank you. Thanks, Kelsey. It was so nice to be here. And I hope everyone continues to to chronically live in a positive way with a strong why

Kelsey Harris:

I really liked the why aspect of what Jessica said today, because it's true. How can we make any lifestyle long lasting lifestyle changes without a clear reason to do that. And really a clear values based reason for doing that, for Jessica family is really important to her. So it makes sense that she's going to take all of this action to make these changes so that she can have that values based goal. Let's reflect for a moment before we wrap up today. So what did you notice about your thoughts and feelings while you listen to Jessica story? And what are you noticing now about that noticing? As always take care and keep making the most? Special thanks to Marty for the original music and charity Williams for their original artwork.