Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Archive for April, 2010

and the march continues on…

Have I mentioned that I love my doctor?

I had an appointment with Dr. Buscher this morning, by phone because of the great difficulty in personally seeing him. It was time to check-in with him as to our last six months and go over what testing Jeremy and I should have before seeing him in person this summer.

It was exciting to have a lot to tell him about and the whole appointment helped put the last six months into perspective for me. The last two months have left me feeling pretty lousy at times because of all the allergy and sinus troubles, along with Jeremy’s candida treatments causing a lot of MCS troubles for both of us.

Talking to Dr. Buscher today helped me to see that we have been incredibly busy on improving our health these last six months and that we have actually seen a lot of improvements from it all.

It can be difficult at times to set aside a few months of feeling worse and realize that there have been a lot of abnormal circumstances, one after another, which has been greatly influencing our health. Having Dr. Buscher ask a few key questions along the way helped to remind me that prior to all this odd stuff going on for us, we really were seeing substantial improvements.

Our MCS reactions had been getting noticeably less and our energy had been improving. I was feeling much less brain fog, enough such that I was looking forwards to having our car fixed and renewing my driver’s license.

Most people do not know this, but I had even begun trying to find us housing that would be safe for us and on our budget. I had one very possible lead with a man who owned an organic farm and wanted to talk with me about some housing he could offer.

Then allergy season hit weeks early, my health dropped quickly and we had to go right back into survival mode because there was no other option. Driving, moving indoors, or anything of that nature had again been pulled out of our reach.

Remembering the improvements we had made, albeit briefly, helps to renew my faith that we are on the right path and doing the right things. We just need time to recover from all that has happened these last two months and then I have little doubt that we will be seeing big improvements once again.

As for my doctor appointment this morning, Dr. Buscher sounded enthusiastic about the changes we have made on our own since last seeing him – the largest having gone paleo. He approved of the tweaks I have made/will make on my own to our supplements – our increased fish oil, beginning some iodine, changing up the type of magnesium we take, calcium, and doing our vitamin b12 shots every three days instead of 1-2x’s a week.

He also gave me the reassurance I needed to hear that my thinking had been sound in not supplementing with thyroid medication after we had a large reaction to it the first day we tried it and instead waiting to see how our thyroid changed on its own after we got our diet and supplements changed up.

We will be retesting our levels of vitamin D, hormones, thyroid, and a new one – vitamin K. Jeremy and I will also be finishing up with an amino acid panel from last year. I’m curious to see how some of these numbers have changed with all that has been improved upon since last October.

Dr. Buscher is a wonderful doctor who is incredibly supportive. He really cares for his patients. This is very obvious in the questions he asks and the excitement he shares when hearing of improvements. Most people who have CFS, MCS, FM, PTSD or other odd illnesses know how rare it is to find a doctor who is supportive, caring, and knowledgeable. I am incredibly lucky to have found one and always enjoy my appointments with him.

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Fuel for Happiness

The last week has been a rough one around here for us. Jeremy started his anti-candida medicine and so has been feeling very foggy, tired, and easily run down from the die-off reaction. Today will be his first day at the full strength dose. The course of treatment lasts for three months but hopefully a week or two from now he won’t hardly notice any ill effects from taking it once the initial die-off finishes at this strength.

I’ve been having trouble with him taking the medicine. Odd as it sounds, it seems to be triggering MCS problems for me – likely from the toxins he’s expelling when he breathes. I do better when we are not in the tent together. Even with the windows and door open 24/7 there isn’t enough air exchange to clear out what he puts out.

On top of all this, we had some solvents from the neighbors roll through briefly a few days ago though thankfully nothing as strong as they normally do. All in all, a hard MCS week.

sad puppy
I was a sad puppy this week.

All of which seems to have left me in a real funk of a mood. The last few days I have felt like I haven’t the energy to be anything but down, happy is just more than I could muster. Its been very frustrating because I’ve done so well the last several months. Then last night we hit on exactly what I need to feel a whole lot better.

Chocolate.

Yes, the food of gods is exactly what I needed to pick me back up again, albeit a temporary effect of a few hours. We mixed some organic cacao powder (chocolate comes from cacao beans) with a good amount of heated coconut milk for a very delicious cup of hot chocolate. The coconut milk sweetens the otherwise bitter cacao powder and also provides a lovely rich and creamy texture.

cacao pods on plant
Cacao fruit on the cacao tree.

Chocolate is well known for its mood enhancing properties. It alters brain chemistry through boosting serotonin levels, and low serotonin is something I’ve come to learn over the years is the cause for many of my funks. Getting a boost in this area certainly has a very positive effect and seems to help get my chemistry out of the rut it finds and back in line much sooner than if left on its own.

The coconut milk while providing a good base for the cacao powder, also helps to serve in boosting mood by providing an influx of fat and some natural sugars. These give my brain some extra power to run off because it seems one drawback I’m finding to this lower carb paleo approach is that when plagued with MCS I tend to need more carbohydrates to burn than otherwise is the case.

inside of the cacao pod
Inside of a cacao fruit pod- the beans where chocolate comes from.

I’ve boosted my carb intake today with extra veggies and will likely have another cup of hot cocoa later. Feeling so much better already, just needed some easy fuel.

I have been coming to the conclusion that the detox pathway that uses glucose to help turn toxins to harmless substances passed out of the body, often times when it is stressed (like with Jeremy’s toxin expelling from candida die-off) I tend to have troubles if I do not up my carbohydrates. It burns too much of my easier fuel, which apparently this time was stuff I’ve been needing to keep my brain chemistry inline. Life gets much better if I simply eat more of the right stuff.

My friend Grant summed it up well this afternoon upon hearing of my chocolate loving improvements when he said it was fuel for happiness! I also like to think of it as ‘better living through chemistry’ but that’s me just showing my true nerdy roots.

bag of cacao beans and pod
Bag of cacao beans and fruit pod.


A Few Paleo Thoughts

Tuesday will be exactly four months since we made the switch to a Paleo lifestyle.

I can still hardly believe how much meat we consume each week because I have never in my life been a huge meat eater. The previous 12.5 years of vegetarianism, over a third of my life and nearly all of my adult years, has been thoroughly tossed out the window in favor of meat, meat, and meat! Combined with this is the greatly increased fat intake which is just as huge of a change from how I ate all those years.

Its really no wonder that it takes a body time to make such massive shifts in how it processes food. I think it is safe to say that our health is playing a key role in how we adapt to this new lifestyle. Provides some answers for why we have more ups and downs, even now four months in, than others who are healthy and make the change.

Overall impression of having shifted our diet this dramatically?

I think the long term benefits will be stellar. We are already seeing small improvements that are a little hard to define, largely because our memory has become so poor as to make any sort of quantitative analysis extremely difficult for minor changes. But in our world any improvement is a vast step forward after having been stalled out at such a low level of health these last several years. These improvements feel more solid and less likely to give us the house of cards effect we had last summer – one very bad thing causing us to crash and loose two years of improvements.

My pseudoscience guess is that the changes in us are slow because of how far down our health has fallen. I distinctly feel like my nutrition is greatly improved and my body feels calmer because of this. It just feels more ‘happy’ eating this way and I have the distinct impression that much healing is occurring behind the scenes and waiting to make a spectacular debut someday.

This has been a very life changing event for us and one which I am still awed by our ability to make it work so well from a tent, two burner hot plate, and a small refrigerator/freezer.

I can not speak highly enough of giving this diet a try if anyone has major health problems. As with us, the benefits might be slow in coming but in the long term will provide a huge increase to quality of life. It will likely seem daunting at first thought (I know it was for us!) but we started one step at a time and never gave up.

This change was six months in the making for us and most of that time was spent feeling very overwhelmed with the knowledge that we had to change our diet but not knowing in what way. I am incredibly grateful for Jeremy’s hard work and willingness to try something new.


Hurray for Sunshine!

I am finding it difficult to obtain time to write here as I would like. Jeremy’s computer broke down about a month ago and while he is without it, I don’t really have the same amount of free time to delve into my writing.

We are still on the way to it being fixed – but the motherboard we bought was a DOA and getting the warranty filled on it is taking time. In our slow fashion though we are getting through all the hurdles to finally having it running. Once everything works, we will be turning it on away from camp in a safely covered spot next to the refrigerator and letting it off gas for what will likely be 4-8 weeks before it is ready to come back next the the tent.

Today I decided to do more frequent short updates because the longer or more polished stories I would like to write take far too long in the time I have.

Jeremy started some candida killing medicine a few days ago. He’s taking about a 6th of the full dose and will slowly be working his way up as his symptoms from the candida die off abate some. It is rather surprising how much he is reacting to it. I would have thought three months of him without any sugar or fruit would have had more impact on his candida problem just as it has on mine, even with me eating a little fruit the first two months.

My sinus infection still persists though I really am unsure what is going on with it. I had been feeling as though it was improving, then about three days ago I crashed fairly hard with it. Was thinking I would be here writing about how much crashing sucks when next thing I know, today I’m doing the best I have in weeks.

Perhaps it is the weather as today is the first clear blue sky with lots of warmth that I have seen in several weeks. I think Spring might be making a come back after we just had a few weeks of near freezing temperatures, snow, lots of hail storms, and a ton of rain.

I planted the first part of my garden today! Not much, about a 2’x2′ area of garlic in which I only turned the soil well before planting. It is a start though and felt rejuvenating to my soul.

It was wonderful with the sun warm on my back, sitting down on this nice rock we actually moved here with us six years ago because it is fairly comfy, and peeling the garlic cloves that had already begun to sprout. There is much of my garden left to be planted and I am curious to see what goes in the ground as much of it depends on how my energy comes or goes.

For now, I shall hold with me the memory of my first truly warm and sunny day this year, being able to shuck the outer two layers of clothing I have worn since last November, and soak up the energy of life around me.


Afk

Quick update. I have a gnarly sinus infection going on this last week and its still plaguing me. Sapping most of my strength and leaving me with varying degrees of a headache is making it very hard to think well enough to write all the interesting bits of info I have been waiting to post here.

Fingers crossed this passes soon!