Why I Stopped Drinking Alcohol (Thanks to a Mosquito Bite)

Posted on December 30 2019

Why I Stopped Drinking Alcohol (Thanks to a Mosquito Bite)

For Dry January, we'll be sharing stories from a range of women who have chosen to drink less or no alcohol for a variety of reasons. 

I'll go first. :-) 

My need to stop drinking started with a mosquito bite in Mexico. There was an epidemic of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that is infamous for causing horrible joint pain (the name chikungunya is an African word meaning "walks bent over"). Fortunately, I had a very mild case of chikungunya. In fact, it was so mild that at first, I thought it was altitude sickness because it hit me when we were in a mountain town at 7000 feet. 

(Above is a photo of me in 2015 celebrating my 55th birthday in Mexico just prior to getting that fateful mosquito bite.)

But a full year later, I started feeling excruciating pain in my hands and feet. My toes and fingers began to swell. I could barely move. 

It turned out that I was one of the rare ones (generally women over 50 with a family history of autoimmune disease) who ended up with post-chikungunya chronic inflammatory rheumatism. It's a painful autoimmune syndrome that destroys joints and ruins organs. There is no cure. The only treatment: taking powerful and expensive chemotherapy drugs for the rest of my life. Average life expectancy: 64 years. 

I was devastated. I had always been healthy and active. I couldn't imagine spending my last years barely moving, in terrible pain, and helplessly watching myself deteriorate. I had things I wanted to do! Places to see! People to love! Would I even be able to hold my future grandchildren?

I went online, read the very scant research on the condition, and started following people with autoimmune diseases who had healed themselves through diet.

It took two long years (and a lot of superfoods) to turn things around, but as long as I watch my sugar intake and avoid alcohol, I remain symptom-free and have halted the deterioration.

So, that's all pretty dramatic, but the truth is, I was already choosing to drink less alcohol before that mosquito bit me. Though I rarely had more than one or two drinks, I didn't like how alcohol made me feel the next day. It just felt like a waste to wake up and not feel good enough to have a great day.

Those of us who are choosing to drink less alcohol come at if from very different places. I wanted to share my story to let you know where I started, and why. 

Do you have a health-related story about changing your life and abstaining from alcohol? I'd love to hear it! Please send me an email at outreach@ToMAglassstraws.com 

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