Diane “V” Capaldi goes by the moniker PaleoBOSS Lady because she IS a boss. And a lady. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at 24, her health declined rapidly for 23 more years until she finally healed herself using diet and lifestyle changes alone. That’s right— no more drugs, no more doctors.
It all started when, seemingly overnight, Capaldi lost feeling on the left side of her body. She lost control of her lips and eyes, and her vision was a little off. Doctors told her she had an inoperable brain tumor that she’d just have to hang on and deal with. Luckily, she was encouraged by others to get more opinions and one doctor, without even administering tests, looked at her and knew she didn’t have a brain tumor. After she underwent an MRI and a spinal tap, he diagnosed her with MS, a disease of the nervous system that affects the flow of information in the brain and between the brain and the body.
Capaldi decided to forgo the Valium that doctors offered her— her mom had been addicted to prescription drugs —and instead focused on doing everything her doctors and physical therapists told her. She was part of an early test group for disease-modifying drugs, which caused her problems that required more medication to treat.
By the time Capaldi was 37, was legally disabled and her MS had transitioned into secondary progressive MS, the most debilitating form of the disease. She’d lost bilateral use of her hands, had trouble swallowing, and was living in pain. Her heathcare costs were over $30,000 a year.
Capaldi had so little control over her body, she was choking on air.
“I just always thought of Liz Lemon in ‘30 Rock’ when she would always be like, ‘I’m forever single, and I’m going to be eating a TV dinner anad choke, and no one’s going to know. I’ll be dead,’” Capaldi told WellBe. “I always thought, ‘Well, I’m going to be the new version of Liz Lemon. I’m going to choke from MS and no one’s gonna know.’”
Capaldi lost the ability to regulate her body temperature, which left her immobile in the heat and stuck with joint pain in the cold. Since her daughter was about to go to college, she decided to move to Venice Beach, California by herself. The lifestyle change worked for a while, but her MS accelerated quickly and led to alopecia, an uncontrollable Candida overgrowth, and loss of control of her hands. She started having severe muscle spasms in her throat, so doctors put her on strong muscle relaxants.
Capaldi had career success while her MS was in remission, so she was able to afford full-time help and remodeled a home to suit her needs. But as she watched herself get worse and worse, she feared she would end up institutionalized. Something had to change.
A trip to Burning Man, the festival in the Nevada desert, made her realize that her financial success made it hard to tell which people in her life were actually her friends and her “friends” weren’t stepping up as she got sicker. Capaldi locked herself in her home. After about two months, using voice recognition software, she yelled at her computer, “Food! Medicine! MS! Lifestyle! Doctors! Help me!” That’s when she found Dr. Terry Wahls’s Tedx Talk, Minding Your Mitochondria. Wahls has secondary progressive MS and went from being stuck in a tilt-reclined wheelchair to completing an 18-mile bicycle tour by using functional medicine and diet changes.
On January 1, 2012, Capaldi started following the Wahls Protocol, a modified form of the paleo diet that focuses on lean proteins, organic vegetables, fruits, and skips grains, gluten, refined sugar, and legumes. By October, she started going off her medications as her symptoms healed. By July 2013, she moved independently for the first time. The left side of her body, which had been unresponsive since she was 23, woke up.
As she began to tell others how she healed with food, Capaldi was met with some resistance, but at the encouragement of her physical therapist, started a Facebook page that grew into PaleoBOSS Lady, the brand.
Capaldi doesn’t take any drugs, see any doctors, and has no out-of-pocket healthcare costs. After her year of confinement, she reached out to her followers and asked if anyone wanted her to come live with them and show them the diet and lifestyle changes that helped her heal. She’s now been on the road for two years.
“I’ve dedicated my life to be of service,” she said. “In American, 1 in 5 are disabled. You just have to be breathing, and if you invite me, I’ll come to you.”
One big takeaway she’s learned in her journeys (health and cross-country) is the first step to healing is recognizing that your body is your temple, being grateful for all the work it does for you, and rewarding it with nourishing foods.