Saturday, October 10, 2015

New Regime!

Since I last posted, things went downhill again (love fibro!), but it then got even worse than my normal low.  The symptoms that overlap with hypothyroid were intensifying- by the way, a good percentage of people with fibromyalgia have hypothyroid.  Coincidence?  I think not!  So, the most prominent symptoms for me were: weight gain, concentration/logic issues, paranoia/anxiety, pain and stiffness, fatigue, and I broke out like never before- acne all over my face and it wouldn't heal for months, which has never happened.  I got really concerned.  Now what?!

In July, a friend of mine from high school just got diagnosed with fibro, too.  She lives in Riverton, Utah, and heard about a miracle lady who treats fibro.  I called and made an appointment for me and my daughter for the end of September, which was the earliest they could get us in- I took that as a good sign.  Apparently, people come from all over, out of state even, to see her.  Her name is Marcy Rowley.  She is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse who specializes in chronic illness, especially fibro!

So, she spent a lot of time with us.  She ordered an extensive blood panel, but then asked a lot of questions about how we function.  Her theory on fibro (and please realize that everything I'm telling you from this point on is second-hand, so I hope I don't mess any of this up) is that it is caused by physical or emotional trauma, which causes the blood vessels to constrict.  With the blood flow limited, lactic acid and cortisol build up in the system, so our muscles essentially don't ever relax.  I had not heard this theory, so it made me very hopeful.

The two main solutions she offered were
1. An alkaline diet.
This is very similar to the diet I have on this website, but there are some differences, mainly almost all dairy, beef, pork, and seafood is acidic, so it should be avoided most of the time.  But potatoes and sweet potatoes are good.  Woot!
Gluten and sugar are still big culprits of pain.  The worst acidic food you can consume?  Soda. The examples below are just two versions of the diet- there is some differing thoughts on a handful of foods on whether they fall in the acidic or alkaline categories. Also, some lists have foods on them that others don't have on the list at all- just because they didn't happen to list that food, so I found it good to look at several versions to get a better idea of what to eat.   Also, she said it is okay to eat some acidic food if we keep to the alkaline side 70% of the time.

2. Cesium Chloride/Potassium
The cesium opens the blood vessels back up- can't remember how.  It does deplete potassium, though, so I take one in the morning and one at night.  They can't be taken at the same time for some reason.

I have been following doing both of these for a week and a half.  So far:
-My pain level has lowered.  I haven't taken any pain pills all week, although I could have used an ibuprofen yesterday.  So, it hasn't taken it all away, but usually my hands are always cramped and on fire, and now they feel like that low-level burn when you skin your palms after you trip on the sidewalk.
-The spot in my lower back that has hurt my whole life (I have a pinch there from scoliosis), is barely noticeable.
-I have almost full range of motion and no pain in my neck that has given me constant grief since a car accident 19 years ago.  It still has stiffness, but nothing like before.
-My mind is clearing up.
-My acne is finally healing!
-I'm pretty sure I lost some weight, but I was so discouraged about it, I didn't get a starting weight, so I haven't weighed in yet.
-But the one thing that surprised me the most is my feet!  I have plantar fasciitis, so when I wake up, I literally hobble to the bathroom because the  bottom of my feet are so tight.  Lately, it's gotten to the point where it stopped loosening during the day, so that my feet constantly hurt, occasionally preventing me from going to sleep.  About two days ago, I noticed that first thing in the morning, my feet were loose!  Again, not perfect, but I could walk almost normally first thing!

It feels like all these years my muscles have been wound like a phone cord  (or like my daughter called it when she was little, a "curly phone," and now I'm starting to unwind.  It's an amazing feeling!

There are some other things she's having us take.  Again, I'm not recommending you do this without seeing a professional first who can take your blood and monitor how you're doing.  I'm just keeping you in the loop.

1. Armour Thyroid- I was already on this, but my daughter wasn't.
2. She kept each of us on our anti-depressant.
3. Tangy Tangerine- for energy
...or she said we could stay on Thrive, that we've both been taking for a while already.   Honestly, Tangy Tangerine smells horrible, but you can't taste it in orange juice.  However, as someone who gags at the mention of pills, I started taking Thrive again instead, because I know the Tangy Tangerine is in there, so it's hard for me to swallow- I am a baby when it comes to medicine, even though I've been on different things since I was very young.  Keep in mind, they do make some pill/tablet versions of Tangy Tangerine, though.
4. Co-Q 10- for energy and vascular support
5. Multivitamin (although that's already mixed in with the Thrive for us)
6. Immunoplex Glanders- Immune system support
Two we haven't started yet:
7. Resvertral- for blood sugar and other things.  It's an anti-oxidant.
8.  L-arginine- for vascular health as well immune system strength and kidney function, and many other things.  It's an amino acid.

1. Progesterone- both of our levels were low.  It looks like a tiny paint ball- I get a kick out of that.
2. Taurine- lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is what regulates sleep patterns and stress, and in people with fibro, it essentially screws up when it is released in the system, thus the weird sleep schedule we all have and the state of constant stress, as there's typically too much in the system, like a constant allergic reaction.  I can already tell I'm doing better in the mornings and getting tired at 10 pm  instead of 1 am.
3.  Diflucan- drops cortisol levels and fights yeast, which most of us with fibro have too much of in our systems- think candida.
4. Magnesium- Helps with inflammation and other things.
5. She kept each of us on our night meds to get to sleep, but I don't think we'll need them much longer.

She also recommended down the line that we add EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing treatments and said we had something like metabolic dysfunction and some other things I can't remember.  I'll talk about EMDR and metabolic stuff another day.

Overall, she said it will take a year to essentially be healed of all this.  But we are both very optimistic!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Losing Weight... Again

So, if you saw my before and after photos, they're pretty impressive, huh?  Shortly after that, my thyroid started to malfunction, and I gained all the weight back, despite my diet and exercise.  At that point, honestly, I felt so lousy, though, that I stopped taking care of myself for a while.  It's taken about 3 years to stabilize.

By stabilize I mean feel healthier more of the time than I feel cruddy.  Between the my hypothyroidism and fibro, I thought I'd never feel stable again.  But, I seem to be in some sort of remission at the moment.. for over a month straight, really.  I still have sleep-it-off days, but most of my week is good.  Today I wasn't tired all day- surreal!

So, I have gone back on the strict diet and joined a weight-loss competition with some relatives and friends.  We've done 4/8 weeks so far.  I'm down 5.69% body weight and 11.8 pounds so far since Jan 1.  I actually lost about 7 more pounds during the fall. I still have quite a bit to go, but I know I'll get there if I don't lose hope.  I'm actually 6/26th in the contest, so that's not terrible.  I'd love to win some of the money, but that's not the main goal here (only because I only have so much control over whether I win or not!)

Here's a chart of the year so far (yeah, I know you can tell my weight- and that's okay):

I realize that keeping my numbers in my head causes discouragement for me.  I always think I'm doing more poorly than I really am, so then I want to give up.  I also think about my ideal weight, which at 5'0" is somewhere between 120-130, but it's not smart to focus on the final goal, just today's goal.  I find that using helps me a lot; that is where I got the chart.  They have a free website and app which keeps track of weight, inches, calories, and exercise.  I don't do the calorie part, because I'm on the strict diet, so I feel that's sufficient for me.   Friday morning is weigh-in.  So I then eat something I want that's not on the diet after that.  And then I behave the rest of the week.

I've also been able to exercise fairly consistently.  You'll notice in the following chart, there's a week of nothing- that's because once a month I spend most of my time in the fetal position watching Netflix.  But I've been able to walk to work many days (I live 5 blocks from work) and I'm doing yoga, water aerobics, and belly dance (I'm in a troupe here) pretty regularly.

With my health being inconsistent, I realize that this won't always be the norm.  I've found that there are times when I realized, "it's not time to lose weight right now," which, yes, is discouraging, but it's just a fact with chronic illnesses. And that's okay.  No point dwelling on it too much.  Stress makes symptoms worse, after all.  

One more thought.  This summer I was up to 193 or more pounds.  That's ridiculously high for me!  And I have an eating disorder mentality about my own weight and how I look in public- usually, this means voices in my head telling me I shouldn't go out in public at that weight.  I absolutely don't feel this way about anyone else, and I know it's wrong.  So, to counter this, I performed with my troupe for the first time this summer, at that weight.  I'm not the belly-baring type, so I wore a tank underneath, but I will do that no matter my weight.  That's just me.  But, I didn't let my weight stop me from doing something I wanted to do.  If you're struggling with yours, don't let it stop you.  
Me and my daughter at Renaissance Faire, summer 2014

I will add some recipes in a couple of days.  To be honest, my hands hurt from the rain, and I just want to cuddle with the dog and watch Criminal Minds for the rest of the night.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Artificial Sweeteners, Sugar, or None of the Above?

A couple of years ago I mentioned briefly that I was reading up on artificial sweeteners and that I didn't want to give up Diet Coke.  But, the more I read, the more I realized I really needed to.  Here are a few facts that swayed me:

-Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Splenda, which are legal in the US, are banned in Europe.
-The can actual make cravings for sweets worse.
-Studies are showing a connection between these sweeteners with cancer.
-They're also linked with weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.
-It can cause symptoms like fibromyalgia.  Huh.

There are many places I've looked for this information.  I'm not going to source them all, only because I haven't kept all of sites I've looked at.  Here is a video from Dr. Oz if you're interested:

The bottom line is, I couldn't conscientiously consume these anymore, and I wanted my daughter to decide not to, too.  I'm the one who introduced her to diet sodas, and I wish I hadn't!  Fortunately, she did decide to get off these types of sweeteners.

So now what?
Because we both have low blood sugar issues, I didn't just want to start eating sugar.  I do have some, but it's usually in something like ice cream so it has the protein to counteract it.  I certainly wasn't going to start drinking regular sodas.  I admit I went through a mourning period, much like the one I had for my ex-husband- I lost something I thought I had, even though it wasn't real in the end (TMI?)

I decided to give stevia another chance. It's a plant that you can grow in your yard; the leaves are naturally sweet.  I usually buy packets of it, but I hate the bitter aftertaste, though, so I started reading up on it, and it turns out that it is only bitter when too much of it is added.  So I now put very little and add a bit at a time until it's where I want it to be.  I never just dump a whole packet in.  Side note with stevia- the newest "versions" of it are mixed with artificial sweeteners, so read the label!  I don't get mine from the regular grocery store, only the health food store, and even there I check the label to make sure there is nothing added.

It doesn't really help me with soda- I've just given it up (except for every once in a great while, I'll have a small amount of regular Dr. Pepper).

But, as I got off of the diet drinks, etc., it felt like my ability to breathe oxygen improved... I know it sounds weird, but my capacity to breathe without getting winded increased.  That's a little freaky, right?  And I did take a sip of some a few months after I quit, and it tasted horrible!  I couldn't drink it anymore; it was so chemical-tasting.

So that's my sweetener story.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hey, I'm Back!!!

Well, that was a bigger hiatus than I expected!  Right after my last post, I got suddenly really sick.  I was so exhausted, I though I was having a bout of Epstein Barr, which I've had twice before- it lasts for months.  But no, there's more!  I couldn't think straight for more than 15 seconds at a time.  I began to get super paranoid about stupid things.  My depression hit hard during this time. All my regular physical symptoms were magnified and I gained all the weight back.  It was awful.  Finally, we figure out that it's my thyroid malfunctioning. If you ever get it tested, make sure they check your T3 and T4.  They usually only check one.

My theory on hypothyroidism is two-fold.  One, I think people have it a lot longer than the tests show, so we have to wait until the numbers are right before doctors can do anything.  If they give medication without the matching numbers, it can cause a heart attack, so I really can't blame them, but it still stinks.  I was on Synthroid for quite a while, but I didn't feel better enough on it, so I asked if I could switch to Armour Thyroid, which is awesome!  I'm a little disappointed that I didn't automatically feel like a normal person, but I'll take what I can get.  Two, I've read some theories that fibromyalgia may be related to the malfunctioning thyroid, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that turned out to be true.  The symptoms are so similar, it's scary when they're coming from all fronts and becoming completely unmanageable.

It's been a year or so now that I started to feel like I was getting back to my normal level of chronically sick- life is all relative, isn't is?- but my energy has been very inconsistent.  I could walk to work quite often, but I'd been too dead to go to an exercise class the whole semester!  I was so irritated.  Fingers crossed I can have a little more smooth sailing this semester- if I haven't mentioned it before, I'm a professor, so I only think in semesters.

So, I'm back and very motivated by so many new followers suddenly.  I hope I can help when you don't have the energy to think.  After all, that is my purpose for this blog.  I sure wish I had had something like this when I was beginning my foggy journey.

Here's a smoothie recipe that I am drinking right now. Mmmm-mmm-mmm.

Strawberry- Coconut Smoothie
1/2-3/4 cup of cream
1 cup of water
8 strawberries
1 T of chia seeds
1 cup coconut flakes- fresh ones from the health-food store. Grocery stores only have sugared.
I packet of raw stevia- be careful about the kind in the regular grocery stores; they are something tinged with other sweetners (which I am off of, finally, but that's a story for another day).

Blend.  Drink.  Happiness.