Sunday, April 24, 2011

Elimination diet

Since my last writing, I got results back from my blood, saliva, and urine tests. Turns out that I'm allergic to 16 (yes, sixteen) foods, and have some thyroid, hormone, and neurotransmitter problems. It's no wonder I felt awful all the time! My body was literally attacking most everything I love to eat, and causing my immune system to be in overdrive so it couldn't deal with infections anymore.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've started an elimination diet and some new supplements to support my immune system, thyroid, vitamin deficiencies, hormones, and neurotransmission. I stocked up on some great cookbooks for people with food allergies, including ones that are completely gluten, egg, and dairy free. It's a challenge to learn how to cook in a new way and eat new foods, but I can definitely tell a difference in the stomach issues I was having.

I'm taking some time off from work to get used to it all and reduce stress, which was a huge contributor to this whole thing. I'm still sleeping a lot more than normal, but my energy level is slightly better and isolating myself from the outside world as much as possible is good to keep me from catching any other colds or flu until my immune system can recover.

I'm so thankful for the ability to do this so that I can get back to living my life again. L. has been a great support, as have my family and friends. I have a couple of friends who are gluten free, so they have been sending me great info and sharing books to help me understand what I'm up against here. It's pretty fascinating.

I'm just so glad that I finally got some answers instead of just treating symptoms, especially since that wasn't really helping any longer. This approach is much more holistic and will help me to be able to exist without a bunch of medications or continuing to have lowered immunity and exhaustion. I'm very blessed to have this knowledge now.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alternative medicine

I know it's been awhile since I last blogged, but I just haven't been feeling up to it. Since last fall, I kept getting sick with the flu or a cold over and over again, and just couldn't shake things. Over time, I had less and less energy, and basically spent the majority of my free time sleeping so that I could keep up with my new job.

Earlier this month, I had enough. After six months of things just going further and further downhill, and little support from my doctor to figure out the root cause, I started seeing a naturopath. My only regret is that I didn't go to her sooner. I'm constantly blown away by how different it is than traditional medicine.

As a comparison, my regular doctor would spend ~10 minutes with me and by the end of the appointment, would give me a prescription to treat my symptoms. Only after a lot of prodding did she order a couple of tests that uncovered that I'm not only deficient in vitamin D, but even after almost a year of high-level supplements, my vitamin D count went down. However, for whatever reason that didn't seem alarming to her to figure out why it had gone down. Instead she just wanted me to take more supplements. This is among a lot of other problems that she didn't want to figure out the root cause.

Compare that to the naturopath, who spent 1-1/2 hours with me on my first visit, and at least 30-60 minutes with me for each appointment thereafter. She really listened to everything I had to say, all the symptoms I've been having, and asked a ton of questions about my lifestyle, workload, stress level, etc. I've started tests for regular annual physical stuff (cholesterol and the like), blood tests for food allergies, and urine and saliva tests for hormones and neurotransmitters. I should mention that out of all the tests, the only ones my regular doctor ever ordered were at annual physical time.

In the meantime while we wait for the results, they've started me on injections of vitamin B + vitamin C + magnesium to help my immune system, since I seem to have trouble absorbing vitamins. I take daily supplements to boost my immunity and she has switched me to a liquid vitamin D supplement, which is better for absorbtion. I already feel a difference, even though I'm not out of the woods by any means. In fact, I overdid it a bit this weekend after celebrating my birthday. I'm not used to being out on the weekends much anymore, so even just being with friends and family was tiring for me. I now look forward to Fridays when I get my vitamin injection because I get a real noticable boost of energy for a few days afterwards. It's amazing.

For the first time, I have real hope that I can get better and stay better. And one of the best parts is that by figuring out the root causes, it will help my health overall, including my weight and everything else. It seems that a lot of my recent weight gain was tied to a borderline underactive thyroid, which causes a lot of things including fatigue, exhaustion, weight gain, etc. My naturopath also confirmed that my trying to exercise each time after getting a bit better was backfiring, since I don't have enough energy right now to sustain much physical activity. Hopefully through figuring out all of the root causes and addressing those, I'll be able to add back in physical activity without feeling like passing out afterward anymore.

I know that I'll have a road ahead of me to adjust my lifestyle to whatever comes out of these test results, but I'm so ready to start feeling better again and get back to my normal self. Turns out that all the stress I was enduring over the last few years was really dangerous for me, and now I just need time to let myself recover. Here's hoping that this is a year of getting my health back in order so that I can feel like me again and not sleep my life away. I know that this will mean a lot to me, as well as to my husband, and family, and friends. I've been missing in action, but I don't want to hide any longer.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and welcome to 2011

Happy New Year everyone! Hope that 2010 treated everyone better than 2009 and that 2011 is even better than 2010. I have many things to be thankful for, which is sometimes hard to remember when things are rough, but it's good to have holidays to remind us of the things we do have going our way. Wishing everyone blessings and good tidings for 2011!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Recently my dad came over with several boxes of "stuff" that he shipped back from Illinois after my grandma passed away last year. I've had it sitting on the table this last week since I was sick and didn't have much energy to open them up to see what was inside.

Tonight, I finally felt like starting to dig through the things and found all kinds of memories and treasures. There are tons of old photographs of my dad, grandparents, great grandparents, and even great great grandparents. Also, we found several years of farming journals from the 1940s that account for all of the activities, costs, income, etc. from their farming business. My grandma kept a yearly diary, so we have several years of those from the 40s on as well. Her contributions were famous in the family - she was meticulous about tracking the weather, her daily goings-on, what was going on with everyone in the family, details of phone calls, etc. It's pretty fascinating to look back through those and see what her days were filled with. I found a journal from my great grandmother that details her life story, and a journal she kept with all of her income and expenses.

One of the boxes is filled with slides and when you hold them to the light you can still make out what the pictures are. It appears that some are from Japan, so I'm thinking that they're from when my dad was based in Japan during the Vietnam war, though they look more like something you'd order from a place like National Geographic than personal pictures. So, I'll have to figure out the story on those.

It's interesting to look through these boxes and get reacquainted with family members who have gone long before. In a time where nearly everything I do has a digital edge, it's nice to open these journals with real handwriting and the smell of decades of storage, and to look at photos that were so formal and must have cost a small fortune to take in those years. So different from now when we can immediately look at a screen to figure out whether we like the photo and delete it if we want to try again.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Well, we're all going to die in 2012, right? know, if that whole Mayan calendar thing turns out to be true. So, I guess let the republicans have the house. Now when it comes to the next election and things aren't done, people can swing back to the democrats. I really can't understand swing voters at all, and this tea bagger obsession is ridiculous. What a bunch of idiots.

Oh well. Like I said earlier today, if you're a woman and you voted, thank progressives for fighting for that right for you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Life is good

The past several days I have felt so good. Incredibly good. Just full of goodness inside. I can't really explain why, and I don't know that there's anything in particular that has made me feel this way. I guess there are just many things at play right now that feel good.

Last weekend, L. and I celebrated our second anniversary by going downtown for the evening and having a nice night out together. I'm so thankful that we have good jobs and can afford to do nice things like that with one another. I'm so thankful that he's in my life. I'm so thankful for the things we have and where we are in life. I'm so thankful that we get the opportunity to volunteer at the radio station and enjoy sharing music with one another. I'm thankful for our puppy. Thankful for our house. Thankful for it all.

A couple of my friends have moved back to the Seattle area, and I've made some new friends over these last several months that I just love to hang out with. Plus, I've got my good regular friends around to do things with. It's just nice to have a mix of old and new people in my life.

I've got my new job, and it has a lot of challenges but really good challenges. I'm sure that there will be some things I'm not crazy about, but I feel like a huge weight is gone from my shoulders.

I've got my new car on order, and I'm really excited about it. I can't wait until it gets here and I can finally drive it!

The holidays are right around the corner, and that means lots of gatherings with family and friends for the next couple of months.

I guess I just feel like things are busy right now, but in a good way and not so crazy like last year. It's nice to have this time where I feel more settled and I'm really enjoying things, instead of just working all day and night. I hope that this feeling continues and that there are more good things to come.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letting go

Today I finally let go of the hurt and anger that had built up from a situation with a friend earlier this year. At the time the situation happened, I was devastated and ever since then there's been something hanging out, making pressure build up inside of me.

Today, this person emailed me with a question, and they were very respectful about the situation that happened and approached the conversation in a good way. When I read it, I decided that I could go on being angry and hurt, or I could let go and heal. I still feel that the situation was upsetting so it's not like those were unjustified feelings. But in the end, it was just bringing me down and not doing any good. It felt pretty remarkable, really. I don't have any grand ideas about being great friends with this person again, but they're part of my network and it just won't do to try and keep relationships with everyone else while licking my wounds over this one thing with this one person.

In the grand scheme of things, there are people whom I have hurt or angered, and I haven't always been given the chance to make things up to those people. Sometimes we just don't get that chance. But other times, it's pretty hard to avoid something altogether and really go on unless you make a conscious decision to forgive and forget.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Car nostalgia

The purchase of my new car has got me a bit nostalgic about past cars I’ve owned, going back now about 16 years. Prior to my 16th birthday, my parents enrolled me in a defensive driving school near our house, and made sure that I knew the rules of the road. I spent time practicing with my mom, my step dad, and my older sister.

My mom was adamant that I learn how to drive a manual transmission, despite the fact that nearly everyone we knew drove automatics and even the driving school taught with automatic cars. She was convinced that one day I would end up at someone’s house who was convulsing and dying, and I’d have to rescue them in the only car available, which would (of course due to murphy’s law) be a manual transmission. At first, she thought it would be a good idea for me to learn on her brand new Honda Accord, so we drove it to the parking lot of my high school on a deserted weekend afternoon, and she had me take the wheel. The thing they don’t really tell you when you’re starting out driving, is that new cars with new manual transmissions are very tricky. Finding the sweet spot for shifting is a bit of an art, if not an attempt to drive you insane. After grinding the gears on my mom’s car for the 20th time and becoming pissed at her need to grip the door handles and interior like I was taking a sledge hammer to her car, I told her that the jig was up. There was no need for me to drive a manual transmission. We could just go home in peace, and never speak of this again. My mom was never one to let me out of anything easily, even if my every attempt to shift made a small part of her die inside, so she responded that I was going to learn how to drive her car or else. So, I did what any unbalanced 16 year old girl would do by shoving it into first and flooring it. I never drove her car again, and it’s just as well.

Ultimately, the driving lessons continued with my step dad’s and my sister’s vehicles, where I could safely grind gears without instilling a heart attack in my passengers. In fact, my sister’s truck was a bit of a broke down Mitsubishi mess, and starting from a stop light in first gear was entirely optional, as it happily started in whatever gear I’d last left it in. My step dad’s truck was a very nicely used model, and I was able to master the driving lessons with it without much fanfare. I’d never pegged my step dad as patient about much of anything before, so it was a nice surprise to learn that he was really great to go out with for driving practice.

As my 16th birthday approached, my mom decided to set some expectations with me about the possibility of a car. Though my two older sisters had gotten cars for their 16th birthdays, it just wasn’t in the cards for me, she hesitatingly told me. They just couldn’t afford it. I was sad, but understood, and she told me that they’d work out a way for me to use my step dad’s truck when I needed it.

The morning of my birthday, I was at Camp Woskowitcz with friends from my German class at school. We’d gone to a weekend German camp event, and were busy dawdling our way back home totally unaware that I had a surprise birthday party waiting for me back home. I got home to find all my friends hanging out and I immediately regretted passing up a shower in the sketchy camp shower in lieu of taking a long bath when I got home. We settled in for the celebration, and when I opened my gifts, my parents card was the last to be brought out. When I opened it, a key fell to the floor and it said that if I wanted to exercise my right to drive, I should go immediately to the door and open it. I expected my step dad’s truck, but what I found outside was a cherry red Chevy Camaro with a huge gold bow on it and my name printed on a banner. Though I don’t remember the exact year any longer, I think it was a mid-80s model and it screamed cool. I literally had a few of my friends crying and moaning that their parents were so lame to not get them such a car. To put it in perspective, my friend, A., was driving around in an ancient avocado green Oldsmobile inherited from her grandma and another friend, N., was driving her mom’s Lincoln (I think) when her mom wasn’t using the car.

It turned out that my step dad thought I was a pretty good kid, got great grades, and caused little trouble, so he decided I should get a great car. He found the Camaro, got a storage unit, and started fixing it up for me without telling my mom about it until three days before my birthday. He didn’t want her to accidently spill the beans.

I quickly dubbed my car Georgio Roman Armani (I know, I know), and as soon as I got my license I looked for any excuse to drive. Need milk? I’m on it. Something needs to go the post office? I’m your girl… I started driving to school and taking my friends to and from home, and we had a blast playing mix tapes and singing at the top of our lungs. That car was so much fun to drive, and it was fast. The real problem came when we realized it was a bit of a lemon. I had it in the shop several times for problems that turned out to be repeat offenders. Over time, the babysitting money and my income from the hair salon dwindled and my college fund was getting pretty depleted. I was loathe to admit it, but I needed a new car before I was broke, so I talked to my dad about it and asked whether we could trade it in for a reliable little Honda or something. At that point, I didn’t even care what it was as long as it wasn’t breaking down and costing me a small fortune.

One day, he took the keys to the Georgio and said he’d take it to get it checked out. When he got home, he tossed my key ring at me, but there was a strange new key on it. I bolted upright and ran to the door to find a red and black Eagle Talon. I ran around in joy. It was about 6 years old, but in overall really great condition and it had a Turbo button. You can bet I had a blast with that car, too. I never named the Talon, in part because Georgio and my friend’s car, Penelope, seemed to have so many problems that we thought naming might be bad juju.

The Talon lasted me through college and the first year out of school and in the real world. I was working as a teaching assistant at a local community college, and my new husband was trying to make ends meet before he started graduate school. Due to increasing maintenance costs, we decided to bite the bullet and get a new car. I found the Toyota ECHO in 2001, and bought it after one test drive. The only option on it is air conditioning, but it’s been the best little car for economy, room, and reliability. Maintenance is cheap. I literally get the oil changed a few times a year at ~$30 a pop, and have had the major services done as needed. It goes forever on one tank of gas. We got the four-door ECHO, since we thought we might have a family at some point and having the back doors would be handy. Of course, we all know that story never panned out, but I love the ECHO anyway since it was the first car I was ever able to buy for myself. It’s been through a lot of moves, and seen a few dings, but it was well worth the $14K I spent on it and then some, even if it’s not the most gutsy thing I’ve ever owned.

Which brings us to my 2011 MINI Cooper S Clubman. That is going to be one heck of a fun car. I feel like it kind of marries two sides of my personality: the side that is practical and responds to function, and the side that just wants to have a good, fun, fast ride and appreciates great design.