Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tuberphobia- The Fear of Potatoes.

Look at that evil smirk...starches are always plotting something!

I doubt they even knew what hit them, or why they were being assaulted; that there was an enemy within their midst and all around them. We don’t often think about the ecosystem within each of us but it’s there and we depend on it as much as it depends on us.

I’m talking about the bacteria that live in your gut and help to break down food into parts small enough for the body to build you and keep you running everyday. Every since H-pylori moved into the neighborhood things had gone to pot. Real estate values plummeted and no one wanted to invest fully in the bad part of town. But H-pylori wasn’t going without all out warfare, and there were bound to be some casualties.

The good news is that we won. It took the equivalent of a nuclear bomb being dropped on Milwaukee, but H-pylori has finally gone to that great gastrointestinal paradise in the sky. The world it left behind is as scorched and sparse as one might expect in such a situation. There are few survivors, a mostly skeleton crew of scavengers brought in through the probiotics I’ve been taking. They don’t have the numbers or know the lay of the land well enough yet, and this explains some of my odder symptoms in the last few weeks.

There was the rather sudden realization that potato chips tear up my insides. Being starchy and hard to digest, and me lacking the bacteria to break them down, they just sort of scraped through the place taking paint off the walls like hooligans as they went.

Have you ever been afraid of a Ruffle? I actually Googled to see if there was a term for fear of potatoes and so far as I can find there is not. I propose calling it Tuberphobia, if only because latin names always sound so much more official.

I’ve been put on prebiotics, food for my probiotics to encourage them to multiply and establish life in the aftermath of destruction. Or perhaps to make them hallucinate that this is a good place to set up residency…either way works for me. I like to think of prebiotics as fish food for my bacteria. One thing is for sure, they seem to like it, I noticed an immediate spike in my energy level after only two dosages.

I’ve also been sucking down the aloe vera juice like it is the Nectar of the Gods. Sweet Ambrosia. Did you know that Lily of the Valley has an organic aloe vera with no preservatives in it! It makes me very happy, especially when I snack on something hard to digest, like cashews...haven't been brave enough to try potatoes again just yet...gotta work up to that one.

The plan is to get my bacteria count up to a place where I can start to digest things again, as of right now I’m even having trouble with my Glutagenics, which I refer to as powdered stomach since it has the spackle needed to fill the holes H-pylori left when it was unceremoniously evicted. The damage far outweighed the security deposit on this one I can assure you!

For those who may be reading this and have H-pylori, or an ulcer (which is H-pylori), I found out about a tea called Matula that, when taken for 30 days twice a day, supposedly gets rid of it, and I also found this blog detailing how Amy got rid of hers by switching her diet.

I can’t vouch personally for these things, but just know that alternatives do exist to the nuclear (antibiotic) method and have worked for others. It was too little too late to save my original population, devastated as they already were, but hey the cycle of bloodshed has to end somewhere right? Maybe with you?

Lots of Love and good wishes if you are dealing with this nasty invader.

Don’t give in, you can have your life back!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tetracycline Haiku

I take all of these several times per day. Most are good. Tetracycline is the Devil.

Napalm in my stomach.
The bombs have dropped.
Eradication.


One of the more insidious things that gluten causes is an imbalance in the flora and fauna of your gut. That’s right, things depend on you to provide for them just like we depend on the Earth, and they are living inside of you as I type this. Most likely your guys are on life support just like mine are. This, combined with a weak immune system from battling gluten, results in the ideal environment for opportunistic bacteria and invaders.

Talk about a decline in property values… The only way to get some of them to leave is to scorch the Earth completely. Everybody dies regardless of guilt or association. I am sad to say that I have currently forsaken my residents.

But I hope they understand that it is for the greater good.

In December, shortly after discovering the freeloaders Helicobacter-pylori and Vibrio, I began an Antibiotic regiment to get rid of them. H-pylori affects s up to 50% of the population, and is the cause of Ulcers. So if you know anyone with an Ulcer, you know someone with an H-pylori problem. H-pylori is a Class 1 Carcinogen and corkscrews itself into your gut, essentially drilling holes everywhere it sets up shop. After decades of eating away at your gastrointestinal system it will lead to stomach cancer. Not a good guy to keep around, I don’t care how cool his car is or how many times he tells you that you were meant to be together.

Vibrio is a bad bacteria that causes stomach flu like symptoms in some and can throw off the bodies response to sugar. As it turns out, it is not “normal” to get "peel me off the ceiling" high from a Lil’ Debbie snack cake. I got off with mild nausea from Vibrio but it did make me crave salt like it was going out of style. This I found the most freaky part of all of this. Here I had been laboring under the delusion that I had free will when I was just a slave to my bacteria! O_o

So I cut the salt, took the Prev Pac antibiotics, and successfully evicted Vibrio. H-pylori on the other hand, well he decided he wasn’t going anywhere and shrugged the assault off like it was a bad hangover. Then, to add insult to injury, he invites his bum friend Blastocystis (a parasite who causes sugar cravings and made me a bit itchy) to move in while I was at the health spa for the day. Now they are both squatting and eating up all my food while shooting holes in the roof and I’m left to wonder, when did my stomach become Waushara County?

I’m over a week into this latest regiment which consists of:
Prilosec- 2 times a day
Tetracycline- 4 times a day
Tindamax- 3 times a day
Amphotericin- 2 times a day
Pepto Bismol- 2 tablets 5 times a day.

This is all in addition to all of the supplements I am on still trying to heal. Pills have become another food group at this point and it isn’t in that sweet Jetsons kind of way. Less then a minute after I swallow it, Tetracycline is like a spray of napalm on my stomach, followed by seven rabid ninjas with razorblade pinwheels simultaneously spinning about like they are auditioning for Black Swan.

I’m sure its all very beautiful in its own way, but these antibiotics are by far the worst thing to hit my stomach since gluten. Wednesday is my last day on them and I really hope these freeloaders get the hint. I really don’t want to send out for nukes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gluten Connection Part 2: Into the Badger’s Den.


Thinking too much gives you wrinkles...


When my cousin Michelle first told me about gluten causing strange symptoms in people I blew her off in my mind. It was so out there and crazy…I mean…wheat is good for us right? It’s the staff of life, the basis of the food pyramid, and most importantly the main ingredient in my favorite beverage; Guinness. But…I knew she was smart and I trusted that she had done her homework on this. She’d never led me astray before.

I think she sensed my apprehension...that asking me to give up Guinness would be like asking me to coat myself in honey and walk into a badger’s den. So she offered a less invasive means of testing. Pizza, brownies, and beer were three of the worst glutenous offenders. The Pillsbury Dough Boy’s Deadly Posse so to speak. The challenge was to pay attention to how I felt for the next day or two after ingesting any one of them. Was I more lethargic than usual? If so I might want to consider cutting gluten out for a bit to see how I feel.

That Saturday I had the trifecta. Pan pizza, gooey brownies, and of course my weekly date with Guinness. I hadn’t planned on having all three but it seems the Fates thought it would be comical. They’re always in the mood for a good cosmic joke, They’ve more trickster in Them then most people give them credit for. The next day I felt like someone had turned up the gravity on the planet. As I dragged myself through the day Michelle’s voice was ever present in my thoughts. I very likely had an issue with gluten.

Damn it.

I sat my husband Brian down shortly before bed and told him that I’d like to try cutting out gluten for a month to see if my back rash got better. It was, not coincidentally, the same type of back rash he had; only his was much more severe. He was in full support of the idea and even went a step further, deciding to join me for the trial without my even having to breach the subject. Such is the awesomeness of Brian. If you read my blog long enough you will see that this is a reoccurring theme.

Having kicked his 20 year Mountain Dew habit earlier in the year he had been dropping weight steadily and feeling better overall. So he figured why not see if there was anything to this gluten thing?

We would both give the Gluten Free diet one month and see what happened. It wasn’t until sometime later that I realized this was the standard trial time; one to three months. Most people see results in the first few weeks and we were no exception. By week three my rash was gone and Brian’s was noticeably reduced. I figured that I would just cut back on gluten and deal with beer and pizza giving me a rash now and again.
The Fates, laughing all the while, had other ideas.

You see later that week, as I finished out my one month trial, I accidentally had something with gluten in it and my throat and thyroid gland both swelled up within half an hour. They had been swollen my whole life and had gone down so gradually over the three weeks I hadn’t even noticed. When I checked the ingredients on what I had been eating I found a hidden form of gluten that had been missed. Inside the hour I was exhausted, brain fogged and my itchy rash had returned.

Now, having an ugly rash is one thing, I can always wear a sweater, but my thyroid…that was a sore spot for me in more than just the literal sense (See my post below). What the heck did gluten have to do with my poor sickly little butterfly? As I held my swollen neck Brian and I just looked at each other in disbelief.

What had we stumbled on to?

For the next couple of months I went through the kind of arduous research that would have made Holmes proud. Twelve to sixteen hours a day on forums, medical sites, You Tube, health journals, and radio shows in pursuit of answers. I devoured every bit of information on gluten and the thyroid that happened into my interweb. In the process a bigger picture began to come into focus. I learned about other disorders both auto-immune and psychological being linked to gluten, including Depression which I had suffered from for 17 years…

And so it was that I came to a hard truth. My much loved relationship with the dark side, with Guinness, was toxic. I had to leave, or one day I knew it would kill me.

My brain made a very important distinction from that point forward. Wheat, rye, and barley…these things aren’t food, anymore than drywall or plastic or Roundy’s Quality Brand Barbecue Flavored Chips are.

Chairman Bob approved or not.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Gluten Connection Part 1: How Chairman Bob Saved My Bacon.


When did they change the definition of delicious to rancid, vomit inducing, and foul?


One day I should like to meet Chairman Bob. You know, that lovable little Corporate Raider who gives what passes as food at stores around the country the “Roundy’s Quality Seal of Approval.” But rather than punch him in the groin, which is what he deserves, I’d like to shake his hand instead.

You see, if it wasn’t for his disgusting food type product, known in Science Labs as Roundy’s Barbecue Chips, I might never have found out about Gluten.

Please allow me to explain. In July 2009 my husband and I decided to experiment with our food, seeing just how cheaply we could stand to eat. That week Roundy’s Quality Brand Barbeque Flavored Chip’s were on sale 3 for $2 or some such and so three bags of the toxic sludge made their way into our cart.

For the next few days I could eat little else. Despite the fact that they tasted like something a dog had “aged” in the backyard since last April. But what they lacked in basic decency they made up for in addictiveness. I would eat them until I had no more room, wait a half hour for space to open up, and continue in the shoveling. In between I’d pop a pizza in the microwave and take my vitamin pill so I didn’t just fall over dead right there on the spot.

In short, I was firmly on the SAD. Standard American Diet.

Three days and two bags later I felt like a giant, greasy MSG laden spud. And for all intents and purposes I was. Mustering the strength and the fortitude to look at the ingredient label on those rancid chips it read more like a chemistry experiment then anything a living creature should be consuming. I’m not even sure that potatoes were the first ingredient?

Through my starchy haze something in me finally snapped and I decided then and there that if I couldn’t pronounce it, it had no business going into my body. I had a known addiction to refined sugar and resolved to kick that habit as well. It helped that earlier in the week I had found it more than a little screwed up that I wouldn’t feed my peanut butter to the dog because it had sugar in it…but it was ok for me to eat…

And then a funny and strange and wonderful thing happened…I stuck to my resolve. From that day forward I switched my diet to more whole foods, organic when possible, and no refined sugar. I was just sick and tired of food controlling my life. Not off gluten yet, as I was still eating my “healthy” wheat bread, but certainly greatly reduced.

I should note that for ease of my sanity there were two exceptions made to my vow. Beer and pizza. After all…I was only mortal and I only had these things on occasion as it was.

For three days after giving up the junk I gained a new appreciation for what heroine addicts must go through. There were times when I was literally in the fetal position and shivering for hours as my body detoxed. Thankfully I had done the research and knew what to expect or I might have thought my shakes were a result of being low in Butylated Hydroxytoluene.

Over the next 6 months the weight came steadily off me at ½ a pound a week, though for the first time in my life weight loss wasn’t the goal, and my energy level became...well...existent! I felt on top of the world and the world could see me way up there, what’s more is they took the time to shout hello and tell me how glowing I was with no provocation whatsoever. Inevitably they wanted to know WHY cutting out sugar had done this to me. And I didn’t rightly know myself. But I’m a smart little biped and I could learn.

If you have 90 minutes and like Scientific lectures you can check out some of what I found out in Sugar: The Bitter Truth. It fills in part of the dietary picture as to what is at the heart of the obesity epidemic. If 90 minutes is too long you can opt for the 11 minute Underground Wellness recap.


 

Sugar: The Bitter Truth (90 min)



 
Sugar: The Bitter Recap (11 min) 

In my internet wanderings I came across a link between low magnesium levels and Migraines. My cousin Michelle, who is like a Sister to me and one of my very best friends, had been suffering from this flaming pencil in your eye type pain for decades. Pills did little to nothing and the frequency/severity just kept getting worse. I suggested she try eating some almonds every day and damned if they didn’t get a little better.

A small bit of relief after a decade of torment. She had made the connection. Food influences how we feel. Such a simple truth that has gotten buried beneath a mountain of cream filling, topped with an artificially flavored cherry drop. Michelle did her own internet wanderings and in the process stumbled on something bigger than all of us.

Gluten.

Three days was all it took for her to find relief that no doctor could give her for decades, simply by cutting wheat, barley, and rye from the menu she found respite from her migraines. To go from wearing sunglasses inside because the 60 watt bulb in the corner hurts to be around to…well…normalcy in such a short time…was nothing short of miraculous. As her gluten free trial week went on she began to notice strange, seemingly unrelated things begin to clear up. Her balance was better, sleep less disturbed, and those weird little itchy red bumps on her arms and shoulders began fading away.

Weird little itchy bumps that were a lot like the ones I had on my back…

I don’t know…

There just might be a connection…

Continued in Part 2:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Priority Number One: Getting Off Of My Thyroid Meds.

Prescription For Modern Medicine: Take this pill, once a day, for the rest of your life.      



At 17 years old my doctor handed me a prescription for synthroid and told me I would need to take one pill a day for the rest of my life. I had Hypo-thyroidism, or more specifically Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, that was the reason for my heart palpitations and for all the lethargy I was experiencing. When I asked why my thyroid was malfunctioning my doctor shrugged and said simply, “It’s genetic.” Then she scrambled out the door for her next five minute $500 consultation.

I never did like that answer, though all the females on each side of my family have it, and not a day has gone by that I haven’t resented that little pill of synthroid, or levoxyl, or levothyroxine every single time I had to take it. The lethargy improved, though I still was sleeping 16 hours a day when given the chance, I could at least move my arms without becoming winded, but the palpitations persisted.

Over the years I did my own research on the thyroid, even going so far as to write a 20 page essay for my environmental nursing class on the subject in 2005. Though I was knee deep in medical journals and textbooks I never did find an answer to my question. Why am I malfunctioning?

Or more specifically why had my body decided that my thyroid was public enemy number one? Had it really been that bad? Did it commit murder? Rob a bank? Jay walk?

No. It simply was a case of mistaken identity.

You see gliadin, the protein found in Wheat, Barley, and Rye, looks an awful lot like our protein structure. Once gliadin enters the blood stream (through a leaky gut) the body, resourceful as it is, makes anti-bodies to attack and take care of the foreign invader. Only this invader speaks our language, dresses just like us, and confuses the anti-bodies until they turn paranoid and begin attacking everything in sight. In this case my thyroid gland.

I went gluten free in June 2010, on the advice of my cousin, to see if that annoying back/chest rash would go away. It did, but what I found was so much more and opened up a whole new life for me. Thank goodness for vanity is all I have to say on that subject. Three weeks into the gluten free diet I accidentally ate something with gluten in it. Not thirty minutes later my thyroid and throat had swollen up by 50%. Both had gone down so gradually over the previous weeks that I hadn’t noticed the change until it came back in force.

That led me to wonder if there was a gluten/thyroid connection and begin many months of arduous research. The conclusion. Yes. The two are very, very closely linked. In this video Dr. Vikki Petersen explains.



Over the next few months I watched as my thyroid meds were lowered from .150 mg to .100 mg and now back up to .125 mg. (I got massively exposed to gluten at one point and had to increase the dose). I had been steadily increasing my meds over the years and so to see them go in the other direction was a real eye opener for me.

The doctor’s at Health Now have had success with getting people off of their thyroid meds and, though I know it isn’t a guarantee because it depends on how bad off my thyroid is, I have hope for the first time since I was 17. And being only 30 my doctors are very optimistic that my body will heal itself given time and the proper support.

I will keep this blog updated with my progress. Please do wish me luck! <3

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life Without Guinness?


Life without Guinness? Is such a thing possible? And if it is, is it any life I’d want to live?

I’ve given up Gluten. It was a whirlwind of a romance but ultimately, as is often the case with such things, it proved to be toxic. More things have cleared up, gone away, or improved then I ever realized were wrong with me. You truly don’t know how sick you are until you have a different baseline to see from. A healthy baseline.

Eight months now and I don’t miss it. It helps that there are gluten free alternatives. New Grist is local (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and a favorite of mine. I have yet to find a GF beer that I don’t like. Greens makes a smooth dark beer that reminds me of Guinness without the stomach upset afterwards. It isn’t precisely the same, as it is a dark ale, but I’m confident that one day I’ll have a GF stout or porter in my hand and all will again be right with the world.

Not that it isn’t already. Saying goodbye to Guinness, and wheat bread and just about all processed foods has given me a new lease on life.

In the eight months that I have been Gluten Free I have seen the following:

  • Lowering of Hypo-thyroid meds, from .150 mg to .125 mg.
  • Swollen thyroid, or goiter, is now gone.
  • Swollen throat has improved significantly overall, by 75%.
  • Brain fog has lifted, along with the Depression I suffered from for 17 years (I'm 30). No more little black cloud. :)
  • Colors seem more vibrant.
  • Heart palpitations have subsided.
  • The strange sometimes itchy sometimes zit like Rash on my back and chest went away. 
  • Acne on face has cleared significantly.
  • No more upset stomach after every meal (I often explained it away as stress or too much butter or sugar or spice.)
  • Numbness in my hands and feet and overall circulation has greatly improved.
  • Menstrual Cramps are ¼ as bad as they used to be, and they used to be really bad even on Ortho.
  • Teeth grinding and pain have receded. No more prescription sensitive toothpaste needed. No more TMJ.
  • Night Sweats have become a thing of the past.
  • Insomnia has gone away completely. It used to take me an hour to fall asleep. It now takes me 5 minutes.
  • Restless Legs are nonexistent.
  • Random stabbing pains throughout my body are gone.
  • Less sensitive to bright lights and sudden or loud noises.
  • Fatigue has improved.
  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks no longer occur and I am generally a much calmer person.
  • Libido has skyrocketed.  ^_-


Cutting out dairy as well has resulted in improved allergies. I can now breath without nasal sprays and my nasal polyps are shrinking.

I have, for a while now, been wanting to document what is happening with me in the hopes that what I have learned and the improvements I have seen/will see can be helpful to someone else out there in internet land. Giving back to the collective if you will.

My recent trip to California and the Healthnow Medical Clinic has given me the boost I needed to start writing. I want to share my experience with them as well since there were not a whole lot of step by step reviews of them on the web when I was first looking into them.

I intend for this blog to be sometimes silly, sometimes serious, and all the time educational. It is one woman’s account of life without Gluten; life without Guinness.