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

Posts tagged “Dr. Buscher

A Doctor and a Friend

I just finished writing a postcard to send to Dr. Buscher, the physician we have been seeing these last 7 years. It was a surprisingly emotional experience.

He is a man who stood by us when many a doctor would have walked away. We were never made to feel like we were the reason our health was failing, but instead he understood that we did everything we possibly could to become well again. Considering the months it would take for us to go from him handing us lab work papers and the tests actually being run, months again between visits, and a severe lack of money complicating things further – he never gave up on us.

And when times became darkest last year, I couldn’t find my way out of the nightmare my health was plunging into – Dr. Buscher was there to light the way and guide me back.

Without his help over the years, it is unlikely we would have made it to see this wonderful island of Maui and find joy in living again.

Thank you Dr. Buscher for everything you’ve done and my only regret in moving to Hawaii is that I couldn’t take you with me!


Life is an Ever Changing Wonder

It’s another sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest. Starting into the best time of year – not too cold, not too many bugs, and a few more sunny days. It only lasts about a month, usually most of April though this year it is late.

Life has been moving quickly for us the last few weeks. It seemed a slow, sluggish mire we had fallen into over the winter was going to plague us all spring. Then one morning someone turned the “LIFE” switch from ‘off’ over to ‘on’ and life began to take form around us.

It’s odd to say life started when obviously I’m still breathing and getting into mischief. However there is a difference between being alive and living.

This last 18 months I have found myself learning to live again and growing beyond my physical boundaries. Then the late snows in February and March crashed our health; it is very physically and mentally taxing to live in a tent during frequent snows. My world narrowed again to survival – just getting by for another week, another month, waiting to feel less awful. Thankfully an easy allergy season helped and in April we started to move past survival and back into living again.

As I am happily remembering, there is also a difference between living and thriving.

Two weeks ago everything changed in 24 hours. Living became Thriving. I think the last time we found ourselves thriving was in 2005. Before that… 2001, during the few months before life took a nose dive into the world of chronic CFS/MCS.

It’s been a long, hard road we walk in this life of illness.

The big news going along with this change is that we finally will have the means to find indoor housing. Yup, this couple in the woods will one day soon become homeless no more.

I find the prospect both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Where will we go? What sort of place will we rent? I honestly don’t know, though we are planning on answering those questions this summer. With a bit of luck, we’ll be indoors by November; we’ve had enough of living outside during Winter.

Times like these it is hard not to jump into the first opportunity that comes along. Our health concerns and the restrictions it places on housing means we must move slowly to ensure a safe living situation is found.

It also means we opted not to see the naturopath last week. As we are not certain to be staying in the local area, we didn’t want to establish care with a new doctor (a costly endeavor) and then repeat the process in another few months. However, we have followed up on a considerable amount of blood work through Dr. Buscher and will know the results in a few weeks.

Where to live when the world has suddenly opened itself up to you once more?

How to get there and more importantly, how to find safe housing?

What type of change will all this have on our health?

I am looking forwards to finding the answers to these and other questions, which swirl around in my waking and dreaming thoughts.


Update

Much time has passed since my last post. I hoped for inspiration to strike and provide a brilliant return post to share – but alas the brainfog continues to shroud my muse.

My hands have healed well. We made it through several weeks of on/off snow, but then crashed and are still recovering. The majority of spring allergies never hit this year as the snow changed up pollinating schedules for the alders above us. Western Washington is still having more rainfall than normal – and lately colder temperatures too.

It has been a very long time since I felt warm sunshine and I miss its tender kiss upon my face.

All in all – survived another winter. Hooray!

I have come out of this winter with a new plan of action. We will be seeing a local naturopath on May 5th and setting up medical treatment through her. The annual trek to see Dr. Buscher will not be happening this year. The stress and body strain from weeks of snow took a lot out of us. We simply don’t have the stamina to travel two hours away to see our doctor.

Fingers crossed we hit the right naturopath first try. I spoke briefly with her and have hope she will be a good fit for us. At the least, I don’t think we are walking into the nightmare situation almost every CFS or MCS patient has experienced – the doctor who doesn’t believe our illnesses are real.

Happy Spring Everyone!


Another Trip to the Wizard

Yesterday was this year’s trip to see our MCS/CFS specialist who’s office is about two hours away. (For last year’s trip see Back from the Wizard) The weather couldn’t have been better as it was one of our warmer days and lots of sunshine. A good day for a road trip!

A month ago Jeremy and I had our usual 10 vials of blood drawn each. It was a bit rougher trip than normal as we had forgotten to fast prior to the blood draw and opted to go home and wait another six hours before heading back in for the draw.

That day was a highlight of the blood sugar improvements we have seen since starting a paleo diet as eight hours total without a meal was rough, but very doable. A year ago this would not have even been considered possible.

Yesterday we received the results of those blood tests, covered our next stage of treatment, addressed my still lingering sinus infection, and tweaked a few things with our current treatment.

This is a very long, detailed post. Listed below is the quick version and all test results are at Test Results – Jeremy and Test Results – Lisa (or just go to top of my blog page for the tabs). Last year’s test results will be added there too for anyone who wants to compare them to this year.

Quick list of all changes:
– New antibiotic for sinus infection (possibly some acetylcysteine to nebulize too).
– Increase our b12, methylfolate, and milk thistle (detox herb).
– Start supplementing Vitamin K2.
– Keep Vitamin D the same for next six months and then retest.
– Take MTHF test.
– Jeremy increases his testosterone 50-100% and taurine.
– I begin supplementing thyroid, glycine, arginine, and methionine.

With a good amount of luck and hope, we should be seeing some improvements in our health soon. I only wish there was more to follow up with on Jeremy right now, but possibly time will shine more light on what needs healing for him too.

Sinus Infection
First thing we talked about, my recurring sinus infection. A couple weeks ago I noticed it coming back and restarted the same antibiotic as treatment. After two weeks, it briefly saw some improvement but is beginning to slowly worsen again. I will be starting a different antibiotic (also nebulized) early next week when it arrives in the mail from a compounding pharmacy in California. It should be noted that the first course of antibiotic treatment likely would have fully taken care of the sinus infection but some misread instructions led to it not being used properly. I suspect this new antibiotic will work very well.

Detox
We discussed how the treatments outlined at our last office visit had gone. He had suggested last October that we try a product to help promote detoxing but it had proved to strong even at 1/20th of a dose. Because of this, we are going to be trying an increase in an herb that has been helping us to detox instead.

Last year the plan had been to try the detox product and if it did not help much, then we would do a test panel which would help pinpoint where we are having trouble detoxing. However after looking over the current supplements we are using and our lifestyle (high avoidance of toxic triggers and really good diet) we all agreed that running such a panel would not likely require us to change much with our healing program even were it to be very informative.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love my doctor – him being ok with not running a test that would be out of pocket costs for us simply because he recognizes it would only give information but not change our treatment program is another big reason he’s such a great physician. I have not heard of very many doctors who are open enough to the needs of the patient to recognize saving money as one of those big needs.

MTHF
We will be running an insurance covered test of our MTHF process to see if it is working properly. This is the process by which methylfolate is used in the body for many important functions and if it is wonky can cause detox problems as well as a host of other symptoms. Meanwhile, we will slowly begin to increase our methylfolate supplementation.

Hydroxocobalamin shots (B12)
Starting with our b12 shot yesterday, we will be increasing each one by 50% – from 10,000 mcg each shot up to 15,000. I think I noticed a very large difference with the increase last night. A lot of energy after our trip instead of being totally wrung out as expected. It will take a few shots to see how well this works, but I suspect it is a very good change.

Vitamin K
One new blood test this time was to check our osteocalcin levels, aka Vitamin K. With the amount of Vitamin D we are supplementing with it is important to have enough Vitamin K to help ensure calcium is utilized properly in the body and not deposited in muscle or other tissues. Good catch by Dr. Buscher with this test as our results show we both are in need of supplementing Vitamin K. This was a little surprising actually as there should be ample K in our diet due to the amount of greens we eat which is why most doctors would not have bothered to test it. I tested below minimum and Jeremy right at minimum levels.

Vitamin D
We retested our Vitamin D levels again this year. They have both come up by a large amount to land us in the mid-normal range instead of the very low (Jeremy) to below minimum (me) that they tested at last year. Even so, we will still be on our current dosage of Vitamin D until they raise up into the range Dr. Buscher has found to be more optimal. This will be retested in six months as it is entering a more fine tuning area of supplementing.

Sex Hormones
Another test of our hormones this year showed some positive improvements for both of us. Jeremy is still too low on testosterone but he did see a 30% increase in levels. He will be having his supplemental testosterone raised to help further. Its a sticky situation to take supplemental testosterone as its one of those things you will be on the rest of your life once you start it. I did bring this up as a concern with increasing his dosage, but we all agreed that with how low his is, the time for options to raise it without medication have passed.

I saw positive improvement for my progesterone levels which had been fairly low last year. Though I’m now mid-range and could conceivably cease supplementing with progesterone drops, I’ll be continuing on them as there is still signs that they are needed.

As a side note – though we have been supplementing with hormones for the last 11 months, I also think our diet change has contributed to the improvements. Certainly removing phytoestrogens from the diet (soy) would be of tremendous help when trying to rebalance hormones.

Thyroid and DHEA
Next up is our thyroid and DHEA panels. Jeremy saw little or no change with both of these, however for me they both decreased over the last year. While last year there was the option of not addressing the thyroid because it was in the low normal range, this year it was pretty much only a question of what I would be supplementing it with. I had dropped another 27 points this year which lands me at 247. The reference range is 230-420 and very often people experience symptoms of low thyroid (hypothyroidism) when in the low normal range. I’d say I am now low, low normal.

When I was 15, I became ill and the doctor could not find the cause. After a specialist ran a lot of tests (enough blood drawn as to make me nearly pass out), he decided to take a chance and treat me for hypothyroidism despite me being in the low normal range. It worked almost immediately. A few years later I was able to cease thyroid medication but always kept in mind that I’m one of those who can have devastating symptoms as a low normal.

Last year I tried supplementing with Synthroid to see if it helped some of my symptoms but it had a huge, not good reaction in me. This year I will be trying the natural thyroid supplement, Armour, as it has recently come back on the market. It has a lot of negative reviews for it with the new formulation, but I have read many are able to crush it and add a bit of sugar/honey to make it fully absorbable again, thereby alleviating the problems with the new formulation.

My lowering of DHEA will be addressed after we tackle the thyroid and anything that arises from trying to address it.

Amino Acids Profile
Lastly I’ll cover our biggest new test of the year – an amino acid profile that was all out of pocket expense. We will see what happens by treating the things shown low on this profile, but I already feel the money was well spent.

This is the first time in 9 years of illness that Jeremy and I had significantly different test results. Granted my lowering thyroid does fall into this category as well, but it is not as dramatic a difference as what we saw on the amino acid profile.

It has been a nightmare to try and convince new doctors or officials we have had to deal with, that two people can both have CFS/MCS and similar test results. The amount of skepticism and outright disbelief that we are ill but instead just faking has been enormous. To finally have differencing test results, while meaning only one of us is good, it still brings much satisfaction to my heart to be able to point to something being different.

It is also interesting from the perspective of wondering – what finally changed after nine years to give us different results? Maybe we simply weren’t looking in the right places all that time…

This last profile measured the quantity of amino acids in our blood at a fasted state. It is absolutely amazing the impact amino acids have in bodily processes. Many amino acids can be made by the body or its organisms (bacteria in our gut), but some we can only obtain through outside sources – namely food.

The paleo diet helps with this because meat is a very good source for these essential aminos which we only get through food. Having low amino acids can be a sign of poor digestion, poor diet, or areas where the body is having trouble converting from one thing to another.

Jeremy and I tested nearly opposite each other on almost this entire test. As I said, this is the first time we have ever showed almost any difference, let alone such a dramatic difference in a test.

To go over each test thoroughly would be far too much information to add to this already long post, but there is now a tab of all the test results for anyone who wants to see more detail.

In a nutshell, Jeremy has some unbalanced ratios of some of his aminos but the general levels of everything except taurine are pretty good. Oddly, taurine is the only amino acid we were currently supplementing which makes it a little surprising to find his levels low.

On the other hand, my levels of almost everything were very low. This is also surprising given how much protein I eat every day. It is likely part of the problem has to do with poor digestion or absorption from my intestines, as well as problems detoxing. The MTHF panel we are doing next should help provide some answers to some of my low amino levels.

Of note, my “Urea Cycle and Ammonia Detoxification” (numbers 31-36 on test results) are all pretty much bottomed out. This could certainly be cause for some of my continual brain fog along with some other symptoms. Dr. Buscher wanted to see the results of the MTHF panel before treating this area due to the influence an imbalanced methylfolate process could have on this detox system.

To sum up this test, Jeremy will be increasing his taurine supplementation. I will begin supplementing with glycine, arginine, and methionine to start and more can be added later. Dr. Buscher will be researching what impact our imbalanced ratios of aminios are having on us and if they need to be treated, I think our test results threw him a bit of a curve ball on this aspect, especially Jeremy’s. Lastly, we will reevaluate these tests again in light of the findings of the MTHF panel we will be doing sometime soon.

XMRV
Lots of changes and lots of places treatment can lead. We never brought up XMRV (soon possibly renamed to HGRV) or Dr. Buscher’s impressions of its potential to be a key role in CFS. As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done in stabilizing some key body systems before we can even consider looking into what for now are still experimental therapies.


Still Kickin’

Nearly another month and still not doing well.

Jeremy is slowly (very slowly) seeing improvements with the twice daily nasal rinsing using oregano oil, salt, baking soda, and water. The glutathione nasal spray is also helping to heal his sinus infection. Its very slow improvement, a little more energy some days and a small bit more functional, but any improvement is good.

I too saw some improvement off and on this last month but then last week started to take a quick turn for the worse again. My small bits of energy have all but disappeared, daily sinus headaches again, lots of full body nerve pain, low grade fevers, sinuses swelling more each day, and a few other returning symptoms.

Called the doctor again yesterday – we agreed its time for antibiotics. Some who read this blog may wonder why we waited on them instead of going the more normal route here in America and jumping right to a 4-6 week antibiotic course.

When popping a pill for treatment, the medication does not go only to the spot needed. Instead it hits the intestinal track where it is then absorbed into the blood stream through the intestinal lining. There are a few problems with this plan when dealing with an infection at a spot of the body which does not receive as much blood flow as for example, the lungs do.

If the infected area does not have a high blood flow then the amount of medicine it receives will be much smaller and healing will be slower because of this. Also with antibiotics, taking them orally means they do a lot of damage to your intestinal flora. The human body is very dependent on the flora and fauna in our digestion tracks to aid in digesting food and helping our immune system keep bad things in check – like candida yeast.

When one takes an antibiotic, its not only killing the problem you take it for but also our cohabitants inside of us – basically going on a killing spree directed at an important part of your immune system while at the same time throwing a kegger party for the nasties.

I am going to be taking a slightly different approach with my antibiotics, a much safer approach considering the location. Instead of taking a pill a few times a day, I will be using a gizmo which turns the specially made antibiotic into a mist and is then breathed in through the nose via a nasal nebulizer. This greatly isolates the area being treated and will keep a vast majority of the medicine right where it is needed – my sinus passages.

It will still be a course of treatment lasting 4 weeks but the impact it will have on my overall health will be minimal compared to the bottle of pills you pick up at the local pharmacy.

In addition to this, I will begin using an antibiotic ointment for my nose tonight and continue this for about five days. As well, when all the antibiotics are done I will start a long treatment of an antifungal also with the nebulizer. This part of the treatment is expected to take a minimum of 4 weeks but very likely a while longer as the fungal part of the infection is much more stubborn than the bacterial.

Sadly, the antibiotic treatment will aid the fungal infection’s growth (just as it would in the gut with candida) by killing the good bacteria in my sinuses along with the bad, and is the reason for the aggressive antifungal use after the antibiotics.

It is very tiring to think I’ve had variations of this infection since very early March and am just starting a new course of treatment promising to last a minimum of two more months.

I suspect my initial sinus infection in March was bacterial and mostly (or even entirely) cleared up via natural methods. Then the mold levels rose dramatically in the environment around me in April when the weather warmed and became very wet, which quickly allowed a mold infection to begin in my still recovering sinuses. Then with enough time and my immune system being very worn out, another bacterial infection was able to take hold in the last couple of weeks while I was successfully treating the fungal/mold infection.

Hopefully hitting these infections hard with these antibiotics and stronger antifungals will do the trick, letting me again start to have more energy and finally feel better.


Some New Hope

Had another phone appointment yesterday with Dr. Buscher our CFS/MCS specialist. Seemed time to consult him since Jeremy and I had tried everything we could think of doing on our own but to no avail.

It didn’t take Dr. Buscher long to figure out what is very likely happening to us. This year has seen a particularly wet and warm winter/spring which has mold numbers very high. In people with low health, mold can actually take residence in your sinuses and other parts of the body. This leads to all kinds of trouble.

The molds release toxins and then these toxins are in you. No having to inhale them in a sick building or ways to prevent exposure – its already inside. Add to this a bodily reaction to the mold infection taking root in you and causing your immune system to ramp up – inflammation, swollen glands, low fevers, brain fog, memory problems, greater fatigue than normal, and body aches all abound.

We had a mold sinus infection for several months in 2006 and in comparing symptoms it is nearly exact to what we are going through now.

He has us rinsing our sinuses twice a day with oregano oil very diluted which wowie does it burn. This should pass as the sinus tissue begins to heal with the lessening of the infection.

We will also be starting a nasal glutathione spray soon as I can get it made/shipped from the compounding pharmacy as its not something you’ll find at the local drug store.

Dr. Buscher said we should be having noticeable improvements within 2-3 weeks. Fingers crossed!

Its such a relief to have an avenue of recovery planned.

Words hardly express how frightening and overwhelming it can be to see the fragile strings of your life snapping one by one while you are desperately trying to stop your life from dissolving more each day.


Letter to a Friend

I wrote a letter to a good friend last night and oddly, turns out we both had the same ideal – that the things I said in the letter need to be heard by more than just one person. This is a very candid view of my life right now. Edited only for name, “Late night chat”

Hola! 🙂

Its about 1 am here and just killing a few minutes before Jeremy is ready for bed. We forgot our b12 shots till sometime after 10 tonight so not in a big rush for bed. Seemed like the lesser of the two problems – skip them a day or be up late.

Don’t have enough time I don’t think to reply to your email today fully so will hit it in the next few days. The simple reply – sure sounds like a lot of really fun stuff you’ve got going on! 🙂 Good luck with the relatives visiting if I forget to wish it later.

Well, Jeremy and I had a long chat tonight. Happened after I went for a bit of a walk by myself tonight. Jeremy’s ankle was kinda sore from some exercising we tried last night so he stayed home. Was good to get out by myself for a bit anyways. Granted I chatted with myself and nature the whole way I walked, but was a good chat.

Ended up giving me lots to think about and talk to Jeremy about. We ended up talking for probably 2+ hours but I think it ended in a really positive place. Not a fully happy place, but positive.

The not happy part is because of where our health is right now. Quite frankly I’m rather worried about us. We seem to have suddenly had a rather large downturn these last several weeks and we always are so dang close to that point of life being more than we can keep up with, that any downhill motion is very worrisome.

But we figured a few more things out and hopefully will have some stuff improve in the next few months from it.

Its hard coming right out and saying stuff like this, you know? Hard to admit just how low we end up sometimes. We really need more help but I don’t think there is any where to get it from. Most of the type of help we need is beyond what Jeremy’s dad can do and we are simply too broke to afford to pay someone for work.

We need to be indoors. Life is so very much hard outside like this. :/ It tears me up to see Ron’s place every day just off through the woods about 200ft and know he has a spare bedroom we could use with very little notice. But figure there’s no point to it because we get ill just being downwind of his open door/windows on sunny days so I really doubt we could live there.

You know what occurred to me yesterday? Summer 2004 was likely the last time I might possibly have been inside a house, but only for a visit. Might even have been 2003. I know 2003 was the last time we cooked inside a real kitchen and that was while sleeping in a friend’s yard and using their house one night when they were out of town, though we just cooked and watched some tv before going back outside. Was a nice and low toxic place, unfortunately they sold it and moved about a year later.

Fall 2002 was the last time I lived or slept indoors. December 13, 2002 was the date we left all that and have been in a tent since. That’s a long friggin’ time.

But aside from the length of time, its our health. We need to be indoors. I don’t know if I’m going to find a way to make that happen and the worse our health gets, the less options we have.

I’m not sure what happened, we had been doing well with the diet change for a while. But we’ve been getting weaker and more easily injured the last maybe two months. Its a real problem, we don’t have much to loose. I’m actually thinking about paying Robb Wolf for some consultation time in another month or two if we can’t swing things around ourselves. Just don’t know what to do and I think part of it might be diet. Its like – all of a sudden we just stopped getting the nutrition we need from what we eat. Will see our normal doc first and see what he suggests, but talking to Robb in a nutritionist type capacity might not be a bad thing. Might be well worth the money and at least this way we would know its a person who has some knowledge of diets like this.

Honestly, it really feels like somethings gotta change in the next few months. We’ll do pretty much anything to find that change because things stopped working right for us and in a big/bad way. I am very hopeful still that Jeremy being off his candida med will be that change, but it may have pushed our already taxed bodies too far. I’m a bit scared to be honest. Hard to admit, but I am.

We’ll find a way, we have to. I just would feel a lot better if I had an inkling of what that might be.

I know you’ve said that you pray for us sometimes. I really don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone to pray for me before, but think you could toss in an extra good word or two for us?

heh, here I had intended on making sure to write something that wouldn’t worry you and I’ve a strong suspicion that I failed on that point. I am sorry for the worry, I just really needed to tell someone these things. Well, someone besides Jeremy. 🙂 I just hadn’t wanted to add to your load and I do most certainly apologize for it. 🙂

So yeah, had a good long talk with Jeremy tonight about all this and more. Started some fresh action that should help towards putting things right for us with just a bit of luck.

Alrighty, Jeremy’s done and its very late here. I got longer winded here than planned and now he’s been waiting for me. lol I’m going to head off to bed and hopefully a good night’s sleep. 🙂 Big hugs, Lisa


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.


Busy Bees

It feels like a bit of forever since I last wrote here. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me during this slow time. There have been so many comforting and encouraging thoughts sent our way, thank you.

I am very happy to be able to say that allergy season has mostly ended for the year! We are planning a small celebration for sometime this weekend to mark its passing.

This year the allergy month was easier than it has been for the last few years. Though there is no way to know all the factors that contributed to it being less intensive, I am very thankful for the lack of sleepless nights and pain that until now had been my curse.

Now the morning air fills with the sweet aroma of huckleberry flowers in bloom, the sound of bees making up for the lost winter months of gathering, and a warmth has entered the woods as the sunshine is briefly allowed in prior to the maple trees leafing out. This is certainly one of my favorite times of year and it always comes with a happy energy filling my soul with the awakening of a new year full of hope.

A small patch of Trillium near our tent where a young deer sleeps most nights.

A small patch of Trillium near our tent where a young deer sleeps most nights.

I find myself a little torn each sunny day as I want only to go play in my garden yet there is so much needing to be done in camp that has been waiting several months. We have had a very tiring road since last summer’s crash which left us with the lowest our health has been so far. A lot gets left to the side to be done at a later date when life turns to mere survival.

Survival is where we have been for many months now. Through the paleo diet and the tweaking of our supplements by our talented doctor, I think we are beginning to pull out of survival mode and starting to find life again.

My body feels frail after this long road but I can tell that with the extra nutrition of the paleo diet I am slowly regaining muscle strength. It feels good to pick up an object and not feel weakness but strength. Still though, I must be ever mindful of not overdoing life in my enthusiasm to catch up the months passed and still leave enough to rejoice in the spring weather.

I will talk more about our progress in a paleo lifestyle very soon. We are at the end of three months this week and the beginning of a lifetime.


Me Jane, you Tarzan.

I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to write this blog entry for the last few days. Though I know I will be tiring myself out greatly, I just can’t wait any longer – it is just too exciting!

Today has been day six of what I hope to be a major victory in our search for better health. Over the last month, Jeremy and I have been slowly implementing a massive dietary change. Based on some of the test findings at our last doctor appointment in October, we found out several things that could use changing in what we were eating on a daily basis. Various foods that changed our hormone and vitamin balance, promoted fatigue, spikes in blood sugar with later crashes, and were contributing to Jeremy’s large Candida yeast problem in his gut.

After a lot of research largely on how to cure the Candida outbreak that Jeremy has, my path led me to what is known as the Paleo diet. Long story short, it is the diet our ancient human ancestors used to eat prior to refined grains and legumes being cultivated. Sounds like a fad diet right? True, I was skeptical as well when I first came across it. I had only read further about it because most of it was formed around the same sort of foods of a typical diet to help with Candida problems but sounded a little better balanced for nutrition.

Lascaux, France cave painting
Cave painting at Lascaux, France

Thing is, there is just something about this diet that grabbed the little scientific researcher that still thrives in me and made it take notice. Another long story short, there is lots of solid research to show that grains and legumes have low levels of toxins designed to do various things for the seeds but that are not healthy to be ingested by humans. It is not as much of a concern for an average person, but for me and Jeremy who have very sluggish toxin removal systems as one of our dominant health problems, those minor amounts of toxins just add to the overall body burden.

The basis of this diet is that you eat a phenomenal amount of vegetables and a bit of fruit, about a matching amount of lean animal sourced protein, and then fill in the gaps with healthy oils and fats. Nothing made from grains, dairy, legumes, or potatoes is eaten. It is not one of those protein only diets, the vegetables and fruit are a huge portion of what is eaten in a day and provide ample carbohydrates. Preferably everything is organic produce or range and grass fed animal products.

The general idea is that we evolved burning fats and proteins for fuel instead of starchy carbohydrates like pasta and bread. People who have made the change to the Paleo diet, or some variation thereof which they can do on a regular basis, have reported huge increases in energy and feeling considerably healthier.

Not trusting to anything that might be a fad diet, we have spent the last month slowly trying to ingrate it into our lives with the intention of for sure staying on it till Jeremy’s Candida problem was cleared up and then seeing how we felt after that. But even during this last month when we were only eating about half paleo we were noticing some substantial increases in energy and stamina. Then Christmas came and with it too many goodies to eat. The change in how we felt after a couple of days less paleo and more average western diet was extremely noticeable and we felt awful!

Six days ago we woke up and decided it was the day to begin the Paleo diet 100%, while the Christmas goodies hangover from the carbohydrates was still lurking to help with motivation.

Nat Geo baobob tree
A brighter day on the way.

I will write more tomorrow (hopefully) on what will then have been the first week on this new diet. It is a very interesting process our bodies are going through while relearning how to be more like our caveman ancestors. As this process of adjustment is going on, I have wanted to write about these changes and many of the things we are learning to help ourselves adjust.

I do know one thing for sure and this is where all my excitement is coming from. Over the last six days there have been brief bits of time when suddenly everything just clicked right for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. Despite some intense brain fog that has plagued me since day two of this change, during these moments I would feel incredibly better than at almost any other time in the last several years.

It is these moments that have spurred me to write this long article tonight, knowing with a certainty that can’t be explained that these brief moments of improved health will not be the only ones this diet change brings. I want to be able to write about this amazing process as it occurs because it might, just might, prove to be something very huge and beneficial in our lives.


Snowy Updates

It has been a three days since the cold front finally broke. When it did we got a couple inches of snow, not really all that much for around here. I expect a couple more snow storms before winter is done. This one only lasted a day this time which was very nice. Luckily behind the snow was a warm front and now it’s a balmy 50 degrees today, though it does come with the price of heavy rain showers. Such a huge change from our well below freezing temperatures less than a week ago, feels almost like spring! Here are a few pictures I took of the snow:

View from under our tarps.
View from under our tarps.

Jeremy getting jars for us to stay warm.
Jeremy having to keep dry while getting hot canning jars for us to stay warm.

The beauty of the snow.
The beauty of the snow.

The rest of this is just a quick update to my previous blog articles.

For almost the entire month of November both Jeremy and I had a really difficult time around here. I wrote about the crash in “Tides of the Storm” and “Ex nihilo”. It was probably one of the hardest months we have had since moving into this tent and very possibly the hardest in the last 2.5 years. November ended with me having one of the worst flu bugs I can ever remember having and Jeremy having a tooth extracted that had been abscessing for the last several weeks at least. But with the first week of December we both started feeling slowly better and getting our feet back under us solidly. We decided that a rest was much needed and are taking a month off of all detox inducing supplements so our bodies can heal and be ready for the next round.

I have written a few times of the animals we have around here in “A More Simplistic Life” and “Squirrels!” We still see our little Winter Wren friend and he has become much braver in the last couple months. Just a week ago he was hopping around and looking for a tasty bug to eat when he got some crazy notion in his head that the pill Jeremy was handing me must have been for him. Right as I grasped the capsule I suddenly see this little form dart from the corner of the tent and do a quick swoop past my hand. As he went by I felt his little feet grab my finger nearest the capsule and quickly let go as his momentum carried him onwards. What he was thinking, we will never know but it did provide for a nice bit of comedy.

Our squirrel friends (or annoyances as was the case for several months) have been quieting down as the winter progresses. Surprisingly we saw one just behind the tents digging in the snow on Sunday, looking for some maple seeds. I wouldn’t have expected to see them out on the one day of snow, but can’t argue instinct with something who’s vary life depends on it. Luckily they have been much quieter in the mornings and so we get to finally sleep as our circadian rhythms need. I think this is certainly one of the big things that is helping us to recover from our crash in late October and all of November.

Also, an update on our progress after the big doctor visit we had early October and written about in “Back from the Wizard”. We have been taking our b12 shots every three days, using the hormones as prescribed, and taking all the additional vitamins suggested (vit D, more C, more Selenium, and more CoQ10). I have changed several of the brands we used for our vitamins. Where monetarily possible we are now on food based vitamins which feel a lot better to be taking. I wasn’t sure if there was a real difference between food based and something developed fully in a lab. However, when I had the nasty stomach flu a few weeks ago I quickly felt the difference between the two types as the fully lab manufactured ones were not even able to be tolerated by my stomach for five days, while the food based ones caused no stomach trouble.

That affected a lot of my decisions when it came time to buy our vitamins the following week and I think I have us on substantially better vitamins now because of it. I also was disturbed to find a possible source of mercury ingestion in our fish oil, apparently at some point it changed from “free of mercury” to “lower than industry allowable limits.” Ack!!! We now take krill oil and it is worth every extra penny to know it will not be adding to the abundance of mercury we must deal with.

In small ways we are seeing the benefits of these changes. It is very likely that the crash we just went through was brought about by some of the readjusting going on in our bodies to the new therapies. Certainly the vitamin b12 shots (administered at home) would be a huge catalyst for change even if nothing else was. I have noticed some good changes in Jeremy as his hormone levels are going back to normal and some positive things as mine do as well.

Within two days of our doctor trip we also stopped eating all soy products, though I did just find a couple supplements that had some soy still in them. These are now gone too. We have stopped being vegetarians, something which was hard from me as I had been one for 12.5 years, but can feel a lot of benefit happening from now eating animal sources for protein. I think this is also responsible for some of the good changes taking place in us. Currently we are working towards a large change in diet and are excited to see what might happen once we have fully made the change. We feel better in small ways every meal we eat differently now, I have high hopes for what may occur when all meals are changed.

As for our house… well nothing seems to have come of all my efforts to find help finishing it and described in “To dream of a Home” and “Fate’s Quirky Sense of Timing.” One woman at the NW EcoBuilding Guild did seem receptive to talking about my situation but after hearing how bad things are she completely disappeared. It is unfortunate she couldn’t at least have been kind enough to say she couldn’t help, but to act as though we do not exist anymore is pretty ridiculous.

I also spoke with the president of the guild who upon learning that we were not paying members she immediately became very aloof and wanted nothing to do with us either. I had tried to explain that being almost completely housebound, on a fixed income with high out of pocket medical costs, and scrimping every cent we could to finishing building our house that it just hadn’t made much sense to pay monthly membership dues for meetings we would never be able to attend.

But it did not matter at all. Unless we had been paying for services we were too disabled to use even once in the four years we have been trying to build, she wanted nothing to do with us. If it were me, I would have looked at an opportunity to get us as new members and make a statement that it is an organization not just about recycling building products but about the people who live in the world we are claiming to want to save. I have to wonder who they are trying to save the planet for if not for the people who are in their community.

There are a few other exciting bits of life that have been going on around here but I will save those for later as they develop more fully. I am starting to finally feel like there is some progress being made from all the hard work we have been putting into life for the last four months since starting the climb back up out of the hole this summer’s crash left us in.

Ok, maybe this wasn’t such a quick update after all. Surprising to see how much has been happening when most of the last few months I often felt as though very little was going on. Small things have a way of adding up over time to much bigger things.


Back from the Wizard

I have been taking a couple days to recuperate from the lengthy trip to see our doctor last Thursday. It was a very exciting day and also very exhausting because of all the excitement.

Timing in life really is very interesting to me. Here I am traveling most of Thursday, spending about an hour and a half at the doctor’s office and then traveling home. Meanwhile out in the world, a wildfire is spreading of information about a new connection between the retrovirus XMRV and CFS. It is all very interesting research on the retrovirus and wonderful that someone might have some answers for millions of us soon.

But closer to home, I have some answers of my own that I also received on Thursday. All those tests showed some important things for us. Once again, Jeremy and I had almost mirrored test results with only a one major difference and one minor difference. What is the most interesting to me is that for every test where we did have mirrored results, his were always a little worse than mine.

We both tested low for thyroid, Vitamin D, Selenium, and our respective hormones (progesterone/testosterone). These will all be supplemented; most we have already begun to work on as of today. Together we’ll be taking enzymes at main meals to help digest our food because our bodies are unable to produce enough enzymes on their own. We will also be giving each other vitamin b12 shots (hydroxocobalamin) a couple times a week here at home.

Where we differed majorly is he has a moderately severe Candida infection and will be on an antifungal for a few months, while I luckily do not have one. The minor difference was in each of us needing more of one type of antioxidant that the other was fine on.

While at the doctor’s office, we were shown how to do the b12 injections on each other – by the nurse giving us an injection right then and there.

I have to say that injection felt like a little bit of heaven once it started getting into me. About an hour after having it, soon enough that my butt still felt sore, suddenly I noticed that I felt good. Really good.

I felt better than I can remember having felt since this dark cloud of illness descended upon me eight years ago.

Jeremy also felt the same. We will be receiving our own supply of this miracle vitamin sometime next week. I know the wondrous sensation of health and wholeness I experienced the first time will likely not ever occur like that again, but it does give a tremendous amount of hope that this may be one of piece of the puzzle that has been missing for so very long.

With all the promise the trip to the doctor held, I can’t help but feel that promise was well met. To finally have solutions to some of the health issues plaguing us, it will be a very interesting next few months while each thing is slowly being righted after years of neglect and damage. Perhaps there will be XMRV answers and treatments by the time these current marvels of mine have run their course and I am in need of a new pair of ruby slippers to get me the rest of the way back home.